How to clean a Dutch oven that is rusted?
Dutch oven cooking is steeped in tradition. No doubt you have a favorite family recipe passed down from generations with secret ingredients only your clan know about that go into that famous beef casserole you prepare. The one that friends and family look forward to you serving up every fall. So too it appears, there are plenty of traditions around how best to clean the well-loved cookware itself, especially when it comes to removing rust.
A Dutch oven deserves to be respected and well maintained. There are die-hard Dutch oven lovers who will never let their pan anywhere near a drop of water, never mind the dishwasher or soap detergent. In some circles, allowing your Dutch oven to physically rust is an unpardonable sin! Tantamount to disrespecting thy kin! Assuming, however, that you are but human and don’t have the time or inclination to season every time you use your favorite cookware, then you may have managed to accumulate a bit of rust by this point.
It’s probably what has brought you to our site today as we are the leading authority on all things Dutch oven related! So welcome and don’t worry, we’re going to be taking a look today at how to clean a Dutch oven that is rusted.
How to restore a rusty Dutch oven
No matter how bad the extent of rust, the good news is that it can be saved, and throwing it away isn’t the immediate answer, although a bit of elbow grease might very much be required. There are plenty of tried and tested techniques that you can implement to try and get your Dutch oven looking good as new. You may see the term “season” come up in reference to Dutch ovens and that is the process of rust proofing your oven proof dish to ensure that severe cases of rust are prevented from ever happening.
If you really have sorely neglected your poor old oven and it is in a complete state, try taking it to a machine shop to have it sandblasted which will restore the raw cast iron. Then, make sure you get into the very good habit of seasoning it regularly going forward. For less extreme cases, we have the following tips.
Removing profile rusting
One of the most common causes of rusting is what is known as “profile rusting,” and it’s developed through the formation of moisture that has been neglected. Removing this kind of localized rust is a simple enough task, and you will need the following props as well as your oven!
- Steel wool
- Scouring pad or sponge
- Soap or detergent
- Paper towels
- Cooking oil (vegetable is fine or whatever you have at hand)
- Aluminum foil
Our step by step tips to removing surface rust
First, switch your conventional oven on and get it up to a temperature of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you prepare your Dutch oven. You’re going to be physically cooking the pot today and not any food so make sure the family doesn’t get too excited thinking there’s going to be one of your delicious freshly prepared artisan loaves on the table for supper!
Make sure you have all the props from the list above on hand, and you’ve cleared a good workable space on your kitchen top. First up you need to remove as much of the visible rust as possible so to do that, grab your steel wool and scour the affected areas until you reveal the raw cast iron. Wash and thoroughly rinse your Dutch oven now before moving on to the next stages. We recommend you grab a mild soapy detergent and a gentle scouring brush if you still have a lot of rust, otherwise, a sponge should do it, and clean the oven with water.
Once you’ve scoured and cleaned you need to dry your pan thoroughly. It’s probably moisture that has been your enemy all along so don’t neglect this part of the process. Plenty of paper towel should do the job so dry it out thoroughly now, so you are ready to move onto the next part of the rust removing and seasoning process.
Oiling your Dutch oven, or what’s technically known as seasoning
We mentioned that term a couple of times already, and seasoning isn’t just the process of adding condiments and herbs and spices to your casserole dishes. It’s also the technique you should be using to protect and care for your Dutch oven. It refers to the process of coating your oven in oil. Any oil will do but a vegetable oil is perfectly acceptable.
You need to cover the entire pan, top, and bottom, inside and out, as well as the handle too, to be sure that you are adequately rust proofing. This stage can get a bit messy so don’t overdo it the with oil and make sure you’ve given yourself plenty of space. A thin coating is fine as long as you’ve not missed any spots.
Next up, transfer your Dutch oven to your conventional, preheated oven.
That’s right! It’s time to pop your oven, in the oven so to speak! We recommend that you place your vessel upside down on the top rack and make sure that you have pre-lined with plenty of aluminum foil so that you can cleanly catch the oil drips. You are going to leave your Dutch oven baking (seasoning) now for a full hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your alarm, grab a cup of tea and catch up on the weekly news or start preparing ahead for tonight’s family dinner.
Now remove the pan and leave it to cool down.
Your pan is going to be hot so remove it carefully from the oven and put it safely to one side. Turn the heat off and let the Dutch oven cool down thoroughly before you inspect your handiwork. If you’ve already planned tonight’s casserole and have all the ingredients prepared and chopped ready on the side, as soon as your Dutch oven has cooled down you are ready to get back cooking in it, with totally rust proof results!
By regularly ensuring you complete this seasoning routine, your investment will look after you for years and years to come. There’s a reason why families pass down their Dutch ovens and their favorite recipes through the generations and maintaining their stove, seasoning it regularly, and ensuring that you remove the rust is most definitely one of them.