What is a Dutch oven? Why is it called the world’s greatest pot?
Indeed, when someone talks about them, people often think of a mini-cooking cauldron. Dutch ovens are very popular in today’s kitchens.
But did you really know what a Dutch oven is?
- What is a Dutch oven?
- History of Dutch oven
- How did they make Dutch ovens?
What is a Dutch oven?
Dutch oven is an extremely convenient kitchen tool for your kitchen. It is designed with sturdy materials such as cast iron, ceramic with a lid. People often use this pot to simmer meat, cook soup, cook noodles,… On the surface, it is quite similar to stockpots, but it has many more uses:
- It keeps heat well and helps food cook evenly, thanks to the thick wall and wide bottom. Very convenient for parties when there are dishes that need to wait a long time before being served.
- Compared to the handles of the pans, the 2 handles of this pot are much more convenient in moving food into the oven.
- Currently, the pot has many models with beautiful and elegant colors, so it can also be used to decorate the dining table.
History of Dutch oven
Since the 17th century, metal has been crafted and used for cooking utensils. Brass materials are skillfully crafted by the Dutch and put into mass production to serve the market demand in countries like the UK. However, due to difficulties in mining, the price of this material is quite high.
The first Dutch oven is said to have been produced around 1769. To achieve perfect quality, this cooker has undergone a long process of improvement.
An Englishman named Abraham Darby visited the Netherlands to study the methods of brass making, casting copper pots in the factories here. Darby is considered one of the key players in the first industrial revolution in Europe.
Unlike other manufacturing plants in the world, in the Netherlands, people use sand molds instead of clay. This helps to create a good protective layer on the brass.
After several years of researching how to replace brass with cheaper metals like iron, Darby, along with his collaborators, succeeded in making iron cookware and obtained a patent – the process of casting iron in the sand in 1710. It is possible that the term “Dutch oven” was coined during this time, although its creator was an Englishman.
Initially, the pot looked like a cast iron pan with legs and a lid, with a compartment for grilling meat and a compartment for baking.
History of improvement
During the colonial period, the Americans contributed to changing the appearance of the Dutch ovens.
They make pots with shallower bottoms, higher bases (for cooking on coals), and added ridges on the lids to place the coals on. This innovative pot is very suitable for soldiers and people who use the pot for many cooking purposes, such as boiling, grilling, stewing, and roasting.
In the 18th century, it was so valuable that it could appear in the wills of families, including the royal family. This is truly a cultural historical import.
Dutch ovens were also present in the baggage of people who migrated to the West in the 18th and 19th centuries.
How do Dutch people use Dutch oven?
It is difficult to find detailed information on the history of Dutch ovens in the Netherlands. Maybe mainly because people here don’t call it that, but Braadpan, which literally means roasting pan; or called sudderpan (boiling pot). Basically, the function of this type of pot is similar to the feature of the Dutch ovens.
Dutch company BK was the first to contribute to the development of the Dutch oven in the late 19th century. They introduced it with a round bottom design, made of enameled steel, usually dark blue in color. Steel material is light, durable, and cheaper than cast iron, so it is well received and very popular in the Netherlands.
By the middle of the 20th century, cooking methods using electric and gas stoves appeared, leading to the development of aluminum Dutch ovens.
Over the years, until the 21st century today, it is still popular with people in European countries.
How did they make Dutch ovens?
From molten cast iron, traditional Dutch ovens have been produced for hundreds of years. Various methods have been tested through the years to improve the original molten cast iron mixture.
The slagging process is undertaken to remove impurities while bonding agents are being added to the molten cast iron. This step is to remove any impurities left in the molten metal. After being set, the iron mixture is poured into the mold. They then transfer the sand debris by conveyor belt and filter it out.
After having finished cast iron, the workers continue to perfect the process by shaping, honing, polishing, cleaning, drying, and seasoning.
What is the difference between a Dutch oven and a French oven?
Many people think that the French oven is the Dutch oven, just a different way of naming it by region. When introduced to France, the pot was slightly changed in design and added an enamel layer to make it easy to distinguish.
Now there are those who think that both types can be called Dutch ovens. The Enameled Dutch oven and French oven are the same. In fact, the French think that the French oven should be called the French oven – as a more advanced version of the Dutch pot. However, they are completely interchangeable because the intended use is the same.
What is a Dutch oven for bread?
The pot’s cast iron is great for baking bread, so it for bread can be considered “a pot for bread”.
Now, people have designed a Dutch oven specifically for baking, called The Challenger Bread Pan. It has a shallow base and retains heat very well. When choosing to buy, you should pay attention to choose a pot with a thick wall, heavy, weighing at least 10 pounds, with a handle, with a heat-resistant knob, and resistant to high temperatures of 400 degrees F or more.
What is the best material to make a Dutch oven?
There are 6 common types of materials for making Dutch ovens: Ceramic, cast iron, aluminum, cast aluminum, glass, and stainless steel. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages to suit the needs of each user.
Basically, the two most common types today are cast iron and iron. Cast iron model can withstand very high heat, good cooking application, suitable for camping. However, cleaning this type of oven is a bit troublesome, and needs regular maintenance to prolong its life.
The core has many types of materials: ceramic, cast iron, aluminum… . You should choose a high-end pot with a super durable enamel and good heat conductor.
What is the size of a Dutch oven?
Most of the manufacturers now make it in a variety of sizes from small to super large. A standard product usually weighs around 13-15 pounds.
The smallest is 1 liter, used for 1-2 people to eat, the largest can be up to 13 ¼ liters, serving about a dozen people. Usually, people will take the medium-sized ones, 5-6 liters enough for a family of 5-6 people. If you cook for a party or go camping, a large pot is a good choice.
How to take care of a Dutch oven?
The pot made of cast iron that needs to be seasoned by hand instead of enamel requires extra care because they are very susceptible to rust. People often season the Dutch oven with cooking oil/lard and heat it at 400-500 degrees. It will have a natural film to protect the cast iron material from rusting. Note that you should do this in the oven (which is already preheated) rather than on the stovetop.
It is very suitable for kitchen utensils with wood, silicone, or nylon materials. They help protect the pot from scratches when cooking.
It can be cleaned with safe detergents such as Bar Keepers Friend, soap, and water.
What is the price of a Dutch oven?
There are many types of Dutch ovens with prices ranging from $50 to $380. The more expensive the model, the easier it is to use, and more durable than the cheaper one.
When buying a model, you can refer to online reviews in advance to choose the most suitable and affordable oven. You can refer to this website to know more about the quality of each type of pot at each price point: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dutch-ovens-difference-cheap-expensive-options_l_5e3c5bd8c5b6f1f57f0d59e8
What can I use as a substitute for a Dutch oven?
In case you don’t own this pot, you can substitute it with other types of pots such as covered metal pot, soup pot, stockpot, slow cooker, oven, or crock-pot. A deep oven-proof skillet is also a good idea. Of course, the above tools may not be as ideal as a Dutch oven, but as an alternative, they should still be enough to serve your needs.
You can read the details of how to use these replacement pots here: https://www.mashed.com/162644/the-best-substitute-for-a-dutch-oven/
The above is the author’s personal summary of the definition and origin of this pot as well as related questions. Hopefully, through this article, you have understood “what is a Dutch oven” as well as distinguishing common types of products, and care for them.
After getting used to it, this will definitely be one of the indispensable kitchen tools in your home.