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Tips on cleaning a crusty Dutch oven?

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I ruined my Dutch oven on our final camping trip last summer (peach/berry cobbler gone horribly wrong), and am ready to try it out again.

But first I have to removed the carbonized chunks now fused to the iron, and I don't have a self-cleaning oven, (recommended by the International Dutch Oven Society) or a blowtorch (tip found on a random Boy Scout blog).

Any other ideas?

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  1. Oven Cleaner or Dawn Power Disolver. Heat it up a bit before spraying with either. BTW My new iron's sole plate got gunked up with starch. While it was still warm I sprayed it with Dawn Power Disolver and let is sit for about 10 minutes. It wiped right off, no scrubbing, no scratches and i did not have to buy Rowenta's "special" cleaner at an infated price.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Candy
      j
      JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

      I'm not sure that oven cleaner would be a good idea on a Dutch oven, it may strip the seasoning clean off. My first idea is to build a big roaring fire and toss the dutch oven on top of it.

      My vote is with the blowtorch- you can pick up one for not too much from Home Despot, and it comes in handy for caramelizing things such as creme brulee. If you're a bit off-kilter, it's much fun to do the big torch tableside to cap off a fancy dinner party.

      1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

        Well of course, it will strip the seasoning, but thats what you want. When cast iron is that damaged you want to strip it all and reseason it. Thats the beauty of it, you can just start over. I would have it sandblasted. Works great.
        -Becca

        1. re: Becca Porter

          Just for the record, the several high-end cast-ironware dealers I've talked to at antique shows have all said they use oven cleaner. A completely stripped older pan is a lot easier to season than either a brand-new one or one that's been imperfectly cleaned.

          Hey, this stuff is not what you'd call fragile - it's CAST IRON, for pete's sake! I'm using (and sometimes abusing) pans that're older than I am every day, and that's...well, that's old ;-)

          1. re: Will Owen

            Actually it can be more fragile than you think. It is brittle and if droped can break.

            1. re: Candy

              I knew that, honest. You can also damage it structurally if you get very hot skillet and a lot of cold water together. What I meant was that stripping it of its seasoning is not necessarily permanent. I've seen hideously rusted, been-buried-in-the-dirt-for-years specimens revived into fine, shiny pieces (with $60 price tags!).

              1. re: Will Owen

                I've done it. Gotten a horribly crusty old thing, really gross and put it through the self cleaning cycyle on my oven. It is now one of my favorites!

    2. I assume that you are referring to a cast iron Dutch oven? We have two Dutch ovens, one is cast iron, the other is stainless steel.

      Build a fire in your charcoal grill. When the charcoal is good and hot, stick your cast iron Dutch oven in the coals, and allow the heat do its thing. The stuck on gunk should be converted in ash.

      If that doesn't work, go to the following website...

      http://www.lodgemfg.com/usecare2.asp?...

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChiliDude

        Upon looking up the definition of Dutch oven, I found that only the cast iron pot is thus defined. I am mistaken in thinking that any pot that has a capacity of 5 quarts or more is a Dutch oven. The stainless steel pot alluded to in my previous reply is in reality a stock pot.

        Mea culpa!

      2. a
        Alexandra Eisler

        Last night we grilled steaks (one rib eye, one Porterhouse, both Niman Ranch, but I digress), and after the meat was off the grill, I piled the still-hot coals into the Dutch oven, just to see if heat alone might work. Lo, it mostly did.

        I dumped out the ashes this morning and scraped a bit to remove the residual chunks. Using hot water, my plastic scrubby thing and a morsel of soap, I rinsed out the remaining ashes and am now starting the re-seasoning process.

        Thank you everyone for your help! Now to actually COOK with the thing...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Alexandra Eisler

          Thanks for updating us. It always helps to know if given advice was of value. Glad to hear that you had success cleaning up the Dutch oven.