Seasoning your Dutch Oven
The hey to successful Dutch Oven cooking is to properly 'season' it. A new Dutch Oven has a waxy coating on it to protect it so when you get a new one it is necessary to wash it thoroughly in mild soapy water.
Seasoning is done as follows:
1) Rinse well and dry immediately, other wise it will start to rust.
2) Use a thin coat of vegetable oil, Crisco, or lard using a cotton cloth. Coat all surfaces inside and out. Do not use butter, margarine or salad oil.
3) After coating all surfaces, put your Dutch Oven in your home oven for one hour at 350 degrees. You may experience an unpleasent odor and or some smoking. Remove the Dutch Oven, and when cooled, wipe it out.
4) Dutch Oven enthusiasts find that 5 'seasonings' makes the cooking surface just about perfect.
5) Over time, your Dutch Oven will take on a patina or black surface. The blacker the better.
6) Whenever you use your Dutch Oven, it is advisable to coat with a thin layer of vegetable oil to enhance and prolong the seasoning.
7)When cleaning your Dutch Oven, use plain water or a mild soapy water. Do not use pot scrubbers such as Brillo.
Keys to Controlling the Heat
1) You can use natural coals such as from a campfire or you can use charcoal briquettes. Use good quality briquettes, such as Kingsford, placed underneath and on top of the oven.
2) To determine hom many to use, take the diameter of the Dutch Oven and subtract three briquettes for the number to use on the bottom and add three briquettes for the number to use on the top. For example, a 10" oven would use 7 briquettes on the bottom and 13 on top. This is the starting point for a 325-350 degree oven.
3) You can raise the temperature 25 degrees by adding 2 briquettes.
4) The number of briquettes will vary some based on the type of food, wind conditions, and air temperature.
5) Keep in mind that hotter is not better. To avoid burning your food, consider cooking longer. As you gain experience, you will eventually get the feel for temperature requirements.