A Dutch oven is a large cooking pot, usually made of cast iron, enameled steel, or ceramic. It is mainly used for recipes that cook slowly for a long period of time, like soups and stews, but almost any dish that is baked in a conventional oven can be made in a Dutch oven. It’s a staple of any kitchen, and some cooks have more than one since there are several sizes and styles of choose from. The following are some things to consider when choosing a Dutch oven.
First of all, the pots are available in different materials, and each has some advantages and disadvantages. Cast iron is preferred by most cooks because it retains heat better than other materials, and it cooks food very evenly. It’s also relatively inexpensive, and it will last forever. However, a cast iron pot is very heavy and requires seasoning, which means coating it with a thin layer of oil and heating it until the oil becomes polymerized and bonded to the metal. An enameled metal or ceramic pot, on the other hand, requires no seasoning, and it is corrosion-resistant, unlike cast iron. Enameled steel and ceramic are all lighter-weight materials as well, but both are likely to be considerably more expensive than cast iron.
Another thing to consider is capacity. Dutch ovens come in many sizes, from a miniature 2-quart model to more than 20 quarts. For cooking family meals, most people prefer a capacity of 6 quarts or larger. But a very large pot, especially if it’s made of cast iron, may be too heavy for the cook to lift. In addition, people who like to bake bread in a Dutch oven should look for a model with an extra-high lid, giving a loaf of bread plenty of room to rise.
Although appearance isn’t the most important factor in choosing a Dutch oven, most people prefer to have kitchen things that look good and blend with their overall kitchen decor. Many people prefer the traditional look of a solid black cast iron pot, but some prefer a smooth enamel finish in an attractive color like deep blue or red. To learn more about differences among brands of Dutch ovens, read this article.