While some inventions evolve and change over time, other products reach perfection at inception. What is now known as the dutch oven can be traced back to around the 17th-century. Read on to learn more about.
What is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven sometimes called a dutch pot has a simple but highly effective design. Generally, a classic dutch oven is made from seasoned cast iron; however, some can also be made from cast aluminum or ceramic.
The Dutch Oven is usually accompanied by a large, cast iron lid that creates a tight seal. This basic construction allowed for multi-directional radiant heat to permeate the food, keeping moisture, nutrients and flavors recirculating in the pot.
Where are Dutch ovens used?
The term “Dutch” oven refers more to the techniques used when casting iron pots using molds of clay and sand; which was pioneered by the Dutch around 1710 as a cheaper option than Brass.
Cast iron pots, however, have historical significance and are used for cultural dishes all over the world, including:
- The Caribbean
- South America
- Eastern Europe
- Southeast Asia and more
From thick, rich curries, to slow-cooked vegetables and roasts, the cast iron pot, or Dutch oven has made its mark all over the world.
Modern Dutch Pots
So are Dutch pots still being made the same way? Aside from utilizing modern smelting and casting techniques, the Dutch oven is the same today as it was in the 17th century, with the possible addition of ceramic or enamel coatings to create non-stick surfaces by some high-end brands.
Even though you can pay a hefty price for top-end cast iron cookware, you don’t have to break the bank to find a good quality one. So what are the benefits of cooking in a dutch pot?
Dutch Pot benefits
No matter if your dutch oven is bare cast iron, or has an enamel coating, it shares the same main property; cast iron is a great conductor of heat. This means not only can your cast iron dutch oven withstand high temperatures without degradation; it also means it distributes heat evenly. Even heat distribution avoids hot spots and uneven cooking across the base of the pot.
The most significant difference you will find between bare and enamel-coated Dutch pots is when it’s time to clean up. Well cared for ceramic coated pots should be a breeze to wash and wipe off after use; your bare iron pot may need a little extra elbow grease and care.
What is best to cook in a Dutch Pot?
For such a basic design, the dutch oven is incredibly versatile. The heat retention that naturally occurs in a cast iron pot allows for a wide variety of tasty cuisines.
Soups and stews
Chunky winter soups and thick delicious stews and are often the first things that come to mind when people think of dutch oven, and with good reason.
The deep heat retention of a cast iron pot, sealed in with the heavy iron lid traps in all the moisture and flavor, fusing everything together into a delicious healthy concoction.
The robust design of cast iron dutch ovens means they can be placed directly onto heat, or placed inside an oven. The heat retained by the iron allows for deep, even roasting of proteins and vegetables.
When you get proficient at controlling the heating of the dutch pot, you will also find it makes the perfect slow cooker, allowing for deep penetration and fusing of flavors.
Cast iron’s even heat distribution is also perfect for frying; allowing for even cooking across the base, avoiding hot spots that burn food in one area of the pan while under-cooking in others.
There are, however, some enamel-coated dutch pots that should not be used with such high temperatures. Consult your manual, or search online if you are unsure about your dutch ovens manufacturer recommendations.
The name Dutch ovens isn’t just slang. Your cast iron pot can also be used as a mini oven for things like delicious sourdough bread. The radiant heat can also act like a stone hearth or pizza stone.
Baking in a dutch oven can take some trial and error but is worth the effort once mastered. There are endless recipes online for delicious dutch pot bread and even crispy pie crusts.
Health benefits of bare Dutch Pots
There is another bonus when cooking with a Dutch oven, especially bare iron pots. Not only does the long slow simmer of an iron pan retain moisture and nutrients from your proteins and vegetables; it can also add a significant amount of iron to your diet.
The world health organisation (WHO) puts iron deficiency at one of the top nutritional disorders globally, with research suggesting as much as 80% of people around the world are not getting enough iron in their diets.
Iron deficiency can put people at risk of several significant health risks, including:
- Heart disease
Iron is essential in the production of healthy red blood cells that transport vital oxygen all around the body. The best way to find out if your iron is low is with a simple blood test from your doctor.