Selecting and Buying a Dutch oven
A camp Dutch oven is made of cast iron. It is a pot with a flat bottom with legs and the lid has a flange around the outside of it which helps hold coals while cooking. Because it is made out of cast iron it will heat evenly with very little heat and hold that heat for a long time.
In the early pioneer days, the families considered their Dutch oven as one of their most valuable possessions. The same was true for the mountain men. You will find this a valuable tool for cooking in your yard or in the hills. As a valuable tool you should take some care in selecting the oven because they will last for many generations if properly taken care of.
When you shop for a new Dutch oven, you should be aware that all ovens are not the same. There are ovens ranging in size from eight inches in diameter to 22 inches in diameter. And there are various depths available. Most average families start out with 12 or 14-inch ovens and then add ovens to meet their particular needs.
A few of the things to watch out for follow: I would check the fit well. The lid, during cooking will make a seal and turn the oven into a form of low pressure cooker, so the fit is very important. Check the oven finish and be sure that it is smooth, not uneven. The walls should be the same thickness all the way around. There are some new imported ovens on the market where the walls are not even. I would avoid any oven that doesn’t look even and of good quality. It may break and surely will not heat evenly. The surface should be an even gray color and should not show too many signs of grinding where they have had to fix imperfections. Remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” This holds true with Dutch ovens and other cast iron in the same way it does for many other products.
You will notice that the bail or handle sets different on one side of the oven from the other. When you are cooking with the oven you should try to keep the bail in the position which holds it up above the level of the lid. When you are storing the oven put the handle in the lower position. You want the handle in the upper position while cooking to keep it away from the fire so it won’t overheat the bail causing it to bend and so that it is easier to grab a hold of to adjust position and remove it from the fire.