The Difference Between a Dutch Oven & A Camp Dutch Oven
We were in central Pennsylvania for the annual Apple Butter Day at our friend LaRue's home a couple of weekends ago. We stand around all day stirring a giant copper pot filled with fresh apple cider and bushels and bushels of peeled, cored, and chopped local apples.
After 10 hours of cooking, you end up with thick, smokey, delicious apple butter. Everyone brings various-sized canning jars with self-sealing lids, and we all go home with enough apple butter for the year.
There's also a lot of food prepared and brought to the event by friends and neighbors, much of it in crock pots. Our friend LaRue, a real outdoors-man who knows a lot about camping, canoeing, sharpening knives, wilderness survival - do I need to go on - made Monkey Bread using the hot wood coals from the fire to heat up what he calls an authentic "Dutch Oven."
OK, that got my attention, so I asked him, "What's a real Dutch Oven?"
He said, "It should have a flat lid with a lip around it to hold hot coals from the fire, a flat bottom, and three legs to elevate the pot from coals underneath."
With this style, the primary heat source comes from the top of the pot rather than the bottom, and it is better for baking bread.
The more familiar Dutch Oven has a rounded top, flat bottom, and no legs, so the pot sits right on the coals. This is a great pot when making stews, braises, and chili.
What Does Lodge Manufacturing Company Call Them?
Lodge is the largest manufacturer of Dutch Ovens, and their website is filled with handy information about cast iron pots, like how to season and take care of them.
I visited their website to see what they call these two styles of Dutch Ovens: the one without legs, a Dutch Oven, and those with a flat lid and legs, a Camp Dutch Oven. I'll have to get back to LaRue and see if he mixed up the names.
Did you know that Lodge Manufacturing Company, started in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, in 1896, was initially named the Blacklock Foundry after Joseph Lodge's friend and minister? Then in 1910, the foundry burned down, and the company was rebuilt as Lodge Manufacturing Company.
Today, the CEO and the Chairman of the Board are great-grandsons of founder Joseph Lodge. They have kept the business in the family, continue growing their product line, and improve manufacturing methods.
A Little Dutch Oven History
Where the name "Dutch Oven" comes from is not known. There are numerous theories, including:
An Englishman named Abraham Darby learned about the casting process while visiting Holland in 1704 and then returned to England to create his own casting process. He used this process to manufacture pots that may have been some of the first "Dutch Ovens" using the process he learned in Holland.
Some say the name started with the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers who cooked with cast iron pots, later called Dutch Ovens.
And then some think the name comes from early Dutch traders who sold this kind of cast iron pot, later Dutch Ovens.
These cast iron pots are called Casserole Dishes in English-speaking countries other than the United States. The word casserole is French for pot.
The French company, Le Creuset, started making their own version of Dutch ovens in the early 1920s. However, it used a "non-porous interior enamel allowing for easy cleaning and eliminating the need to season the cast iron."
I have a few different-sized Le Creusets and love them for their design and beauty. They are perfect for many of my stews and braises and look great on the table when serving.
Some Interesting Dutch Oven Tidbits
Did you know Dutch Ovens were essential for cooking purposes and valued enough to be part of owners' wills back in the colonial period? George Washington's mom left her "iron kitchen furniture" collection to her grandson and granddaughters.
With its enameled interior coating, the French Le Creuset oven does not have to be seasoned and is easier to clean with soap and water, something you do not want to do with all cast iron ovens.
The enameled coated Le Creuset is not as resistant to high heat as all cast iron, so they are not as suitable for sticking in a fire while camping. You also must be careful to cover the lid handle with aluminum foil when using it in a high-temperature oven so it doesn't melt. At least, that's what I do.
Dutch Ovens are back. There was a period after the First World War when Dutch Ovens were considered "old fashioned" and were out of favor. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, they became popular again and haven't lost much ground, even with all the new digital cookware now available.
Did you know that the Dutch Oven is the official state cooking pot of Arkansas, Texas, and Utah?
Other Names For Dutch Oven
We call these cast iron pots Dutch Ovens, but in other parts of the world, they are called something different. For example, in Japan, it's called a tetsunabe. In the Balkans, a sač. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, it's called a chugun.
In South Africa, the Afrikaans call it a potjie. In Australia, it's a bedourie. And in its native Netherlands, it's known as a braadpan.
How to Choose A Dutch Oven Right For You?
Check out my post - How to Choose One That's Right For You, to learn more about buying a Dutch Oven to fit your needs.
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