Before the air frier, there was a simpler period where the Dutch oven was the hottest kitchen item.
More than cooking a perfect stew, it is also often used for storing food. This cookware has improved how households keep their leftovers in the refrigerator overnight.
Yes, it’s true. You can store cooked food in a Dutch oven and prevent its spoilage. But it also depends on the material of the cookware. Generally, it can retain a steady temperature regardless of if it’s hot or cold. Placing it in the fridge protects the food from possible bacterial growth due to consistent cold.
If you’re contemplating purchasing a Dutch oven, then this post is definitely for you.
Learn about what else this piece of kitchenware can do that makes it worth investing in.
What Is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven is a large pot usually made of thick-walled seasoned cast iron with a tight-fitting lid. It allows even heating just like a conventional oven which makes it different from a regular pot.
It has also been around for centuries and is still used for slow cooking.
Despite what the name suggests, the origin of the Dutch oven is universal. Hence, it comes in different names in many countries.
The Japanese call it Tetsunabe. For Spanish, it’s Cazuela. While Australians refer to it as Bedourie oven and Russians, Chavunok.
Over the years, this cooking vessel evolved to become more flexible in the modern kitchen. Their composition is now more varied.
You can purchase Dutch ovens made of the following:
1. Cast Iron
Traditional Dutch ovens are thickened with cast-iron making them hefty and quite heavy. But it is this material that makes the Dutch oven safe to use, especially on an open fire. It is also proven durable. You can buy a Cast iron Dutch oven and it could last even for decades.
2. Enamel Coated
The modern equivalent of a medieval Dutch oven is its enamel-coated counterpart. Enameled Dutch irons can be made of cast iron steel.
The addition of enamel coating allows the use of the Dutch oven from moist-heat cooking to any other cooking style. It’s easier to clean and doesn’t directly affect the flavor of the food.
3. Stainless Steel
Dutch ovens made of stainless-steel heat up faster than cast iron. It’s also more versatile in terms of the fire source. You can put it on gas, electric, and ceramic cooktops.
Ceramic Dutch Ovens are lighter compared to their cousins. It could also be coated with enamel or simply come as plain. The drawback with a ceramic material, however, is it’s more fragile and prone to damage.
A pure clay Dutch oven is advertised as non-toxic and multifunctional. Unlike cast iron, it’s non-reactive to acidic food. But since the material is breakable, proper handling should be exercised consistently.
Dutch ovens made of aluminum are lightweight and heats up quickly. It is also relatively cheaper. Compared to cast iron Dutch ovens, it doesn’t contain heat as long.
Nowadays, when most people hear of the Dutch oven, they immediately think of campfire stew.
Dutch ovens can be classified based on where you are going to use them. Thereby, it is common to encounter indoor and outdoor Dutch ovens as your choice.
The outdoor Dutch ovens or camp Dutch ovens are designed for an open fire or campfire cooking. This is where plain cast-iron Dutch ovens come in handy.
On the other hand, indoor Dutch ovens are meant for kitchen use alone. Enamel-coated Dutch ovens are commonly the first choice when it comes to indoor use.
What is a Dutch Oven best used for?
Cooking stew, soup, and other recipes that are even more appetizing when hot are ideal for Dutch oven use. Its ability to retain heat or cold for a long time is an important feature that made it a household must-have throughout history.
Apart from moist-heat cooking, there are plenty of other ways you can maximize the use of your Dutch oven.
If you want to achieve that “fall-off-the-bone” meat tenderness for any kind of meat recipe, then that’s completely within your reach if you have a Dutch oven nearby. Try the recipes for country-style pork ribs, one-braised lamb shanks, French beef burgundy, and braised oxtails.
Since a Dutch oven has a large volume of food, consider roasting a whole chicken. Prepare your Sunday lunch pot roast and save yourself from the hassle of cleaning the regular oven afterward.
Artisan-style loaves need not be complicated to make. Simply grab your Dutch oven and let the magic happen under the lid. Make sourdough bread or a cinnamon roll with this cooking vessel.
Dutch ovens are generally broiler-safe. But you have the check its specification just to be sure. It is also recommended to cover its handle with aluminum foil to protect yourself from the extreme heat is retained.
Whether it’s fries or crunchy chicken, you can use your Dutch oven to cook it. Deep-frying is a cooking method typically done in this cookware. However, it is best to use an aluminum Dutch oven to hit that crispy spot.
While it is ideal to use a Dutch oven for moist-heat cooking, performing other methods should still be checked based on the features of the model or product you purchased.
Is it Ok to Store Food in a Dutch Oven?
Storing food in a Dutch oven is perfectly fine. Leftovers can sit in the cookware for a long time without losing heat. However, the core material is also an important determinant.
Plain cast-iron Dutch ovens are not likely to be used for food storage. Recipes that include acidic content may interact with the iron of the cookware and turn the flavor off. But if the cast-iron is enameled, then, keeping your food inside is okay.
For enameled Dutch ovens, the main concern is always about ruining the surface material. But most enameled Dutch ovens are impermeable, thereby, you can store both cooked and raw food. You can even marinate meat or vegetables using acidic substances and the material will not be damaged.
Can a Dutch Oven Go in the Fridge?
Yes, you can place your Dutch oven with leftovers in the fridge for preservation. Just make sure that the cookware has cooled down to prevent damage.
Never transfer a Dutch oven immediately from the stove to the refrigerator. All hell will break loose. It won’t only hurt your Dutch oven; it will also ruin your food.
Staining could be a drawback of keeping food for a long time. Thereby, you must choose a Dutch oven that is easy to clean.
While keeping food in the fridge is common, there’s also the question of storing the Dutch oven in the freezer. It is also alright to do so as long as you follow the safety protocol in transferring and cleaning the cookware.
In a Nutshell
A Dutch oven can be a great investment if you know exactly how to use it. It’s versatile, durable, and produces the most scrumptious meal fit for special occasions.
Beyond that, you can use it to keep your leftovers overnight. Reheat it in the morning and you’re good to go.
In choosing the perfect Dutch oven for your kitchen you have to consider its core material, the target frequency of its use, and the storage capacity of your rack.
But even if it means sacrificing a small space in your cabinet, it will still be worth it to have this wonder cookware on your hand.