Camping dutch ovens are different from those you normally use on your stove or in your oven at home.
They are usually cast iron all around, not enameled. And they have legs, usually three. This allows them to stand a few inches above coals or charcoal.
They also have a flattish lid with a rim, as opposed to a dome-like round lid on a home dutch oven. The shape of their lids allows charcoal or hot coals to be placed on top.
Witch coals on top and bottom, your dutch oven is actually a little oven, with heat cooking your food from all sides.
My family recently went on a nice camping trip with several other families. I took my Lodge 12" cast iron camping dutch oven and made some delicious peach cobbler around the campfire.
Now, this peach cobbler is pretty much Camping Cobbler 101. I've made it since my old boy scout days. Although simple and easy to make, it never fails to be completely delicious. And if you have a cooler in your car or freezer in your camper and can manage to add a little ice cream at the end, you're in for a real treat.
So I made the cobbler. And it was fantastic. But instead of cleaning my dutch oven, I did what I often do on camping trips: sat around the campfire and drank a lot of beer.
So my oven didn't get cleaned properly that evening.
Then I thought I'd wait until we got home to clean it. When we got home, I got busy with other things and it slipped my mind, and all of a sudden three or four says went by and I had a disgusting burnt-on stuck-on mess.
With a little elbow grease, some hot water, and a brush, I managed to get all the gunk out of my oven. But leaving that mess in there for so long affected my seasoning, and some of it got pulled off. Thankfully I had no rust.
So it was time to re-season it, and since there is a lot of discussion these days about seasoning carbon steel and cast iron skillets and pans, I thought it would be a good idea to post a quick video on how I season my cast iron dutch ovens.
The steps are pretty simple and mostly follow the directions Lodge recommends. This video demonstrates them all or follow the steps below it:
Steps to Season Cast Iron
1. Wash and dry the oven. Since this is a re-seasoning, a little dish soap is fine.
2. Choose your oil. The easiest for me is canola. It's what Lodge uses in its seasoning spray. I just use Crisco. Cheap and ubiquitous. I do not like flaxseed oil. Some people love it, but I have had problems with it and it seems to stink up the whole house. If you are new, start with canola and then, when you have your technique down, if you want to get crazy, branch out to the exotic oils.
3. Put a generous amount of oil in the bottom of the dutch oven. Take paper towels and rub it all over. Rub it in really well.
The cooking surface is the most important part. I do rub some oil on the bottom part and on the lid, but keep in mind that when used for camping, there will be searing hot coals or charcoal below and on top of the oven, so that oil is going to get burned off pretty quickly anyway. And the inside part of the lid never touches the food either. SO focus mainly on the cooking surface and interior of the oven.
4. Take more paper towels and wipe out all excess oil. Wipe it really well. If you have visible oil droplets or you leave too much oil on the oven, it will get sticky during seasoning and you'll have to repeat the whole process.
5. Put some foil on a baking sheet, put this on the bottom rack of your oven, then turn your dutch oven upside down on the rack above it.
6. Bake at 350 F for an hour. I usually put my ovens in without preheating the oven, so I just set the timer to an hour and a half to be safe.
7. When the timer goes off, turn off the oven, but don't open the door. Let the dutch ovens cool down inside over a couple hours.
If everything goes well, you've got a seasoned dutch oven ready to for your next camping trip.
If you don't have a camping dutch oven and want one, check the prices on our affiliate links on Amazon.