the Dutch oven is a powerhouse kitchen tool.
Taking care of such a helpful and versatile (and potentially expensive) cooking and baking tool is paramount to lengthening its useful life.
And keeping it clean can be difficult! All sorts of foods, spills, and different temperatures will contribute to easily heavy staining an enameled Dutch oven.
Did you know?
All Dutch ovens are cast iron! Enameled Dutch ovens have an enamel interior and exterior allowing for different colors and a non-stick surface.
don’t do this to clean a Dutch oven!
Before we get into how to clean a Dutch oven, it’s important to know what not to do up front!
Enameled Dutch ovens are basically non-stick and need to be dealt with differently from cast iron Dutch ovens.
avoid steel brushes or any abrasive utensil that could crack or chip the enamel
Cracking or chipping the enamel can cause pieces to fall into your food when cooking and eventually lead to the total breakdown of the Dutch oven.
avoid putting off deep cleaning your dutch oven
I am so guilty of this.
I get in a hurry, do a cursory cleaning, and pack the Dutch oven away for next time. Don’t do this!
It’s much easier and less time-consuming in the long-run to deep clean the Dutch oven as soon as your done with it. Build-up of stains make for a much more difficult job down the line. And some stains may actually never be lifted.
don’t miss out on the opportunity to inspect your dutch oven
When’s the last time you inspected your Dutch oven? It’s probably when your first brought it home or had it delivered to make sure a return to the store wasn’t necessary. Been there, done that.
But to maintain the long life of the Dutch oven, and to avoid chips in your food, check for cracks or chips when deep cleaning. If they’re extensive, you may want to consider a replacement before it eventually breaks apart while cooking or baking.
Or you can continue using the Dutch oven, but you will need to season the cast iron underneath beforehand. Be wary of rust and dry the oven thoroughly before storing.
how to avoid cracking and chipping a Dutch oven
- Avoid sudden temperature changes so don’t move a Dutch oven from the fridge to a preheated oven and vice versa.
- Allow the Dutch oven to cool completely before washing it in cold or hot water.
- Avoid empty heating if at all possible on the stovetop. I do empty heating when preheating a Dutch oven for breadmaking in an oven but this is a slower heating over a longer period of time than a burner on the stovetop.
- Avoid metal utensils.
- Check the maximum and minimum temperatures for you Dutch oven per the manufacturer.
- Avoid cheap brands. This is another rule I break as I use cheaper brand Dutch ovens as compared to Le Creueset Dutch ovens.
when baking, don’t put the dough directly on the bottom of the Dutch oven
Whenever using your Dutch oven, it’s helpful to protect the enamel as much as possible. One way to do this is when baking bread (and this makes breadmaking easier!).
Use parchment paper (not wax paper!) or silicone mats to protect the Dutch oven from scorching itself and the bread. I like to use these round silicone baking mats for baking bread.
How does this grow sovereignty?
The ability to maintain any type of equipment or tool lowers our reliance on the stressed supply chains (that may not always be available to us) and helps to save money for rainy days.
how to properly deep clean your Dutch oven
The ability to clean your Dutch oven comes down to hot water, a good brush, baking soda, and elbow grease.
if food is stuck in the Dutch oven
If there are chunks of food stuck inside the Dutch oven, start with a boiling baking soda bath.
- Pour 2 cups of water into your Dutch oven and bring to a boil
- Once a rolling boil is reached, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda (it will bubble up like you’re a witch brewing a potion on a cauldron, so don’t be alarmed!)
- Stir with a wooden spoon and gently scrape the food bits
- Over 5 minutes, the stuck food will release from the Dutch oven
- Pour out the boiling water and rinse
- (Optional) Repeat if necessary
If 2 cups of water doesn’t fill your oven (because it’s large), then scale the ratio of water to baking soda as needed.
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if your Dutch oven is stained
- Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the oven
- Add 1 teaspoon of water
- Use a kitchen sponge to scrub! It may take a good bit of force to remove but you will find the stains begin to lift.
- (Optional) Add more baking soda and water as needed.
This method also works for the lids and the outside of the Dutch oven for those spillover stains.
deep cleaning is never fun but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming
check out these easy wins when deep cleaning your home
if stubborn stains are STILL sticking around
Well now you really need to roll-up your sleeves and break out the vinegar.
- Create a white vinegar and baking soda paste
- Dab and layer it onto the stains and leave for 20 minutes
- Rinse the Dutch oven
- (Optional) Repeat if necessary
If stains are remain after these steps, the Dutch oven is absolutely clean albeit a little bit less aesthetically pleasing. That’s okay! It’ll still serve you well in the kitchen just as well as a new one will.
Just remember to tackle those stains right after cooking or baking so that your Dutch oven can last you a lifetime.
But really, who besides the chef actually sees the bottom of your Dutch oven? Consider your secret safe with me.
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Here are some of the supplies that I use in my kitchen.