The day I decided to fill a tote with everything I would need for Dutch oven cooking was a Red Letter Day* It was also a day when I kicked myself and asked, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!”
To have all of my Dutch oven equipment all together in one place is the next best thing to sliced bread. If I’m packing for a camping trip, an outdoor cooking workshop, or just heading to the front porch to test a new recipe, I know everything I need is in the tote and I don’t waste time getting this from here and that from there or risk forgetting something and then kicking myself when I get to camp.
So far, a 25-gallon tote holds just about everything. So, here’s what’s in my Dutch oven cooking equipment box:
Okay, so this doesn’t actually fit in the tote, but it sits next to the tote so I remember to grab it when I’m packing. I keep my charcoal in 5-gallon buckets. It makes it easier to carry and I don’t have to worry about the bag getting damaged while camping in wet weather, which I experience 10 months of the year.
Currently, I have two chimneys, which do a good job of preparing coals for my Dutch ovens. Even if I added another large Dutch oven to my collection, odds are that I would not need coals for all of them at the same time.
I make my own fire starters and keep a supply in the tote in a plastic grocery bag. If you’d like to learn how to make your own fire starters, please see my blog post: “DIY: Making Your Own Fire Starters.”
Dutch Oven Stand
The stand provides a place for the coals and the Dutch oven to sit so that it’s off the cold, damp ground. If I’m teaching in someone’s home, it allows me to cook on a porch or patio. I like the stand because it is so portable. I also have four 13-quart galvanized feed pans that serve the same purpose, but on the ground. They have 4-inch sides, which provide protection for the coals that are underneath the Dutch oven.
Tongs for Handling Coals
Long, strong BBQ tongs work great for reaching deep into the chimney and pulling out coals.
Leather BBQ Gloves
Good quality gloves are a must for handling the Dutch ovens and their lids. Regular oven mitts will not protect your hands from the intense heat of the cast iron. I literally burned through my first three sets of oven mitts until I finally found a good set of leather BBQ gloves.
Choose a lid lifter that will securely lift the lid without it wobbling around or tipping. You don’t want to risk dumping hot coals into whatever you are cooking.
Dutch Oven Domes and Heat Diffuser Plates
I use these for when I want to use a Dutch oven on a camp stove or for insulating the oven in inclement weather.
I use wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil to line my Dutch oven when I don’t want to use a liner. I’ve found over the years, that some recipes just don’t do well with the parchment-style liners and I don’t have the budget to stock the pre-formed aluminum ones. The foil is also necessary if you’re planning to do any foil cooking over coals or the fire.
These are one-size fits all (20-inch diameter) parchment paper liners to use in the Dutch oven to make cleaning up easy and fast. The only brands I know that make them are Lodge and Coleman. If you know of another brand, let me know.
My lid rests are homemade. The rests give my lids a place to sit and keep them off the ground in case they need to go back onto the oven.
I have a clip-on thermometer for meat and candy for when I want to fry something and need oil to be a certain temperature. I also keep a small hand held one for testing the doneness of meats. Two of my Dutch ovens have a thermometer slot that allows you to check internal temperatures without removing the lid but, currently, I only have one thermometer with a probe so that has to pull double duty. It “lives” in my home kitchen and gets added to the camp box when needed.
A trivet sits inside the Dutch oven, providing a small rack to rest a pan on if I want to bake something like a pie or a pizza.
Polycarbonate Scrapers, Scrubbers & Brushes
I use these to clean the Dutch ovens. A good scraper and really hot water is all you need to clean your Dutch ovens.
Unrefined, Organic Flaxseed Oil for Seasoning
After each outing, I apply a thin (really thin) coat with my hands to thoroughly dried cast iron and wipe off any excess with a clean wash cloth. I don’t like to use paper towels because they leave little towel fibers behind. For more information on seasoning cast iron, please see my blog post: “Cast Iron Seasoning.”
Lighters & Matches
I usually pack two lighters; the one I’m currently using and a spare. I pack matches as a back up on the off chance that both my lighters die.
When cleaning my Dutch ovens, I use blistering hot water and that’s a little hot even for my asbestos hands. Wearing the rubber gloves allows me to start scrubbing the pot while the water is hotter.
Small Straw Broom
I use the broom for sweeping coals off the Dutch oven lid and off my stand. It needs to be straw; otherwise, you’ll melt the broom!
You by no means need to have all of these things to cook with a Dutch oven. And some of these could be constructed using materials you could find around the house. The right tools always make any job easier and cooking is no different.
*A red letter day (sometimes hyphenated as red-letter day) is any day of special significance. The term originates from medieval church calendars. Illuminated manuscripts often marked initial capitals and highlighted words in red ink, known as rubrics. The First Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed the saints’ days, feasts and other holy days, which came to be printed on church calendars in red. The term came into wider usage with the appearance in 1549 of the first Book of Common Prayer in which the calendar showed special holy days in red ink. Many current calendars have special dates and holidays such as Sundays, Christmas Day and Midsummer Day rendered in red color instead of black.