All new cast iron comes with a protective wax coating. It’s designed to protect against rust while the oven is sitting in a warehouse somewhere.
Note: These days, most Dutch ovens have been pre-seasoned at the factory but since yours has probably been in storage, in the box, for many years, you will need to know this. No seasoning is forever, however, so you will need this even with a new Dutch oven.
Remove the wax by scrubbing with soap and hot water. (This should be the last time you will ever need to use soap on your Dutch oven.) If you think the coating is off, scrub it again. When you’ve really got the coating off, make sure your oven is completely dry.
Next, you will need to cover all edges with vegetable oil. Cast Iron is a porous material and heating it opens the pores. (Your purpose is to fill the pores of the cast iron with some kind of carbonized material.)
Place the oven upside down on the bottom rack in your oven. Place the lid, inside down on the top rack. Set your oven temperature at 400 degrees F
Note: This process will cause smoke, you will need ventilation. It’s best to use an oven with a vent blower or an outdoor barbecue.
About 90 minutes later remove the pot and turn it over. Use gloves for heat protection. Swab oil back onto all surfaces of the oven. Do the same with the lid and replace the pot, and the lid in the oven. 30 minutes later, turn off the oven, and let the cast iron cool gradually.
Now, You have opened the natural pours in the cast iron and filled them up with carbonized material (Oil). Your pot has a semi, non-stick surface and will stay that way if you protect it. Your Dutch oven is ready to use.
If for any reason, the surface is lost, just start over and season again.
To clean, wipe out your oven when possible, and don't use abrasives.
- Don't overheat your oven.
- Don't use too much oil. If your finger leaves a mark when you wipe the surface you used too much oil.
- If the surface is smooth and shinny, you won't need to put oil on it, the seasoning is fine. That being said, you will still need to protect against moisture during storage and a coat of oil for long storage periods is always a good idea.
- If the oven smells rancid due to long storage, heat it to 325 degrees to kill possible food born illness, let it cool, clean it out (for taste) and start cooking. There is no magic when it comes to using Dutch ovens. Just start cooking.
Next time, we’ll talk about tools and heat sources. But if you’re brave, try the attached baked bean recipe. Clean your pot with hot water. Check the seasoning and re-oil if needed. Good luck and good eating.
Easy Baked Beans
By Keith Fisher
12 inch deep Dutch oven (can be made in a shallow)
2 lb. Ground beef (drained)
1 lb. Bacon (Drained)
1 lrg. red bell pepper
1 lrg. green bell pepper
1 lrg. Onion
1 32 oz can pork & Beans
1 16 oz can red kidney beans
1 16 oz can garbanza beans
1 18 oz bottle BBQ sauce
Brown sugar to taste
Brown and drain hamburger, set aside. Brown and drain bacon, set aside. Dice peppers and Onions and sauté in a 12-inch Dutch oven with a little oil until clear. Drain beans and place with meat into the oven and stir. Stir in BBQ sauce and brown sugar to taste. Bake for approximately. 1 hour with 10 coals on the bottom and 15 on top stirring occasionally.