While there is an element of nostalgia that comes with using the Dutch oven, or French oven, which is enhanced by the retro colors that have become such a prominent feature of the modern product – it is the capacity of the Dutch oven to retain heat and cook slowly that captures the imagination of most people who still purchase them.
Who Invented the Dutch Oven? While the answer to this question hinges heavily on what you mean by “invented,” the person who probably has the most substantial claim to inventing the Dutch Oven is British industrialist Abraham Darby.
Why are Dutch ovens so popular? The ease of preparing a meal all in one pot, compactness, sturdiness, and the ability to use this little pot on various heat sources, with care. To name a few.
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Who Invented the Dutch Oven?
Darby is responsible for two critical developments in what has now become the long history of the Dutch oven.
Firstly, in the early 18th century Darby and his business partner James Thomas became the first people to cast iron cookware, through considerable trial and error.
Cast-iron pots have become the most defining feature of the modern Dutch oven, although not all of them are made from cast iron. So, that is the first of the two major developments.
The second of those significant developments has to do with who had the initial rights to carry out this process of molding cast iron for cookware.
The roots of the Dutch oven can be traced back to the Netherlands in the 17th century, well before Darby decided it would be more prudent to Cast iron cookware.
However, the Dutch were using molds made of sand to produce their finely finished cookware products.
Darby, being the industrialist that he was, decided that casting iron would be quicker and cheaper.
So, when he mastered the art of casting iron, Darby then secured a patent for the casting of iron in the sand molds, in 1707. That is the second critical development in the long and colorful history of the Dutch oven – obtaining the patent for the process.
So, while Darby’s process is derived from what the Dutch had been doing for many years before that, the Englishman is, at the very least, a principal player in the development of the modern Dutch oven. Much of the credit belongs to him.
Recipe Dutch Oven Slow-cooked Beef Stew
Why Do People Prefer Dutch Oven Cooking?
We are not sure how much thought Darby or even his Dutch counterparts put into this when they pursued cast-iron cooking, but you will be amazed by the extent of the benefit that comes with using a Dutch oven, especially in the 21st century.
If you have been in a restaurant – or any other eatery for that matter – you probably would have noticed that there is always that one customer who complains about the food not being hot enough. Not only does cold food normally taste disgusting, but it is also a tad detrimental to your digestive processes.
When you cook with a Dutch oven, you can be sure that the food will remain hot when served to friends and family.
The Dutch oven is, therefore, good for maintaining healthy personal relations if and when you have been designated as the resident cook or host. That is because it retains heat well.
When cooking, you also want the heat in the pot you are using to spread evenly. The Dutch oven, by virtue of its design, allows you to do just that and more.
That even spread of heat when cooking is then enhanced by the capacity of the Dutch oven to cook meals slowly. Slow cooking allows you to cook some of the tougher cuts of meat until they are perfectly tender.
The Dutch oven is perfect for those among you who like cooking stews and hearty soups. With the Dutch oven, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to go wrong when cooking, even if you are a beginner.
Nobody talks about the lid of a Dutch oven enough, even though they should. Not only is it able to store coals on it, for those among you who still cook like that, but it also has a heavy tight-fitting lid.
A heavy lid on a pot will ensure that nutrition and flavor are locked into that pot while cooking. That lid also helps with heat retention.
The traditional Dutch oven was a prominent feature among the travel items used by the Voortrekkers in South Africa and the Drovers in Australia. Both groups of people were effectively migrants who spent days, weeks, and months on the road.
Those travels were conducted on horseback and on foot, and overnight stops were inevitable. When traveling, under those circumstances, it does become quite critical that one moves with equipment that is suitable for the journey.
Firstly, Dutch ovens are the most suitable pots for cooking in front of or on an open flame. Invariably, fires would have been the only suitable cooking method for Voortrekkers and Drovers during that period. That is the first factor.
The second factor is durability. Cast-iron cookware is built to last. Look, if there is a long fall, the oven will break.
However, in the main, a Dutch oven has been built to resist cracking and chipping on the outside, while there will be minimal staining on the inside of the pot. So, there is little to no evidence of cooking over a sustained period.
Such is the extent of this durability that Dutch ovens being passed down from generation to generation have become a common practice for families worldwide.
So valued is the cast-iron cookware that it has even featured prominently in wills and testaments. Daughters and granddaughters are usually the ones to benefit from this practice.
When the Dutch Oven first became popular for domestic use, it had been envisaged that the product would be used on and in front of fires. However, the world has moved on since then, as other cooking options have emerged.
Among those cooking options are electricity, induction, gas, and radiation cooking. Then there is also the small matter of cooking in an oven and even on a grill. The modern Dutch Oven with a flat bottom and no little legs can cope with all of that and more.
For example, you can clean the Dutch Oven in the dishwasher. It is a versatile product to have, and that is why so many people who cook choose to purchase Dutch Ovens over any other pot on the market.
Easy Care and Maintenance
The modern Dutch oven is coated with enamel both on the inside and on the outside. Nothing is more frustrating than scrubbing a conventional pot to try and remove burn marks and stains.
The Dutch oven eliminates both problems for you. Cleaning a pot will never be easier for you, regardless of how badly you might have gotten the heat wrong while cooking.
The makers of Dutch ovens are a colorful bunch, and that personality shows in the enamel coatings for the outside of the pots that they make. The products purchased in shops are normally bright and inviting.
The Dutch oven is something to show off to your friends, especially a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, who have come over for dinner, and perhaps even exciting for those children who resist dinner invites.
At some point in our lives, we will all encounter that one child who does not want to eat, especially when in the middle of a TV show or video game. For them, dinner time means war, and the presence of colorful Dutch ovens can bring forth peace at mealtimes.
For some people, it is not just about cooking, but rather it is about making a house a home. What better way than to fill your home with the aromas of freshly cooked food?
Types of Dutch Ovens
The name Dutch oven not only refers to the classic Dutch oven and is limited to bare cast iron. A good Dutch oven can be made of expensive stainless steel, ceramic, clay, or enameled cast iron.
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is made from raw cast iron during the casting process. After it is fired, the molds are broken away, the piece is finished and then coated in layers of enamel that are baked on.
Home cooks love this piece of cookware with its smoother surface that does not require hot coals to cook up a feast yet can withstand high temperatures. The flanged lid has been replaced with a domed lid suitable for baking sourdough bread. The bottom of the Dutch oven is flat and suitable for any stove top and conventional oven use.
Unlike raw cast iron Dutch ovens, this type of cookware does not require seasoning of the cooking surface. It can be washed with warm water, non-acidic dish soap, and a paper towel or soft cloth.
Dutch Oven Greenhorns
Some people might never have used a Dutch oven, not because it is an inferior product or anything like that but instead because they just do not enjoy cooking. Some do not want to try something new to them and continue with their own inherited food preparation methods.
I have three related articles one about why they call it a Dutch oven here two when the Dutch oven was invented here and three a detailed history of the Dutch oven here. Go check them out for yourself.
Final Thoughts: Who Invented the Dutch Oven and Why Are They So Popular?
The Dutch oven is a beautifully designed cooking pot, easy on the eye, and versatile in almost every way imaginable. It is easy to handle, clean, and can literally last for generations if you are intent on having that happen.
Even the modern Dutch oven has a somewhat retro feel, which enhances that feeling of nostalgia when cooking with one.
Cooking and everything associated with cooking should make a person feel good. When you cook with a Dutch oven, you will undoubtedly feel good.
When serving with a Dutch oven, you will feel good, and when packing the Dutch oven away in the kitchen, you will also feel good.
If you have not yet tried Dutch oven cooking and decided to give it a go – I am sure you will fall in love with the luscious dishes you will be serving in no time.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks
Wikipedia – Abraham Darby I,
Merriam Webster – Dutch Oven