Cast Iron or Dutch Oven History
Back to Volcano Stove.
From Author of Log Cabin Cookbooks - Colleen Sloan
The Dutch Oven as it is known, was once called the black pot or cooking cauldron. Early reference to the black pot came to be found in the old testament. Columbus actually brought the black cooking pots with him when he was coming to America. In 1620 the pilgrims cook with them hanging from the beams of the ships. The fires were built in sand pits and used on calm sailing days. This was easier than trying to use stationery pots that would slosh around with the movement of the waves.
For centuries it has been a favorite of the serious cooks. It is now returning to popularity because of the tasty food it produces. An early Oxford dictionary referred to "a pot as the name given to vessel that grows narrower towards the top", and a "kettle as the vessel that grown wider at the top." A pot will except a lid easier than a kettle. Shakespeare in about 1606 referred to boiling kettles and cauldrons in the witches scene of Macbeth.
Until the start of the 18th century, iron was cast in baked loam or clay soil. This made for a rough surface and the mold generally broke while being removed. One casting was about all they got from the mold. For many years, foundries were more advanced in the Holland area, and cast iron was imported to Britain. The early pot were very thick walled and heavy. As people migrated to the New Colonies of the America, they brought the trade with them. In 1704, Abraham Darby traveled to Holland to inspect the foundries. From this trip, the sand molds were perfected, In 1708, he received a patent on the process and soon after began to produce large quantities of cast iron in the furnace at Coalbrookdale. By the mid 18th century, these pots were being shipped to the Americas.
The first American casting was made in Massachusetts in about 1642. Small foundries could be found in most of the colonies after that. Most pots back them were identified by the round mark (a sprue) found where the iron entered the mold. Generally this was on the bottom. The gate or sprue as it was called left a protrusion on the pot or kettle but it made no difference on the hearth pots. Soon as the cooking ranges came to be, it became necessary to build one with a flat bottom for cooking on top of the stove or in the oven of the coal or wood stove.
Two major foundries made Hollow ware, cast iron in the 18th century. Griswald of Erie, Penn. and Wagner of Sidney, Ohio. They both became household names and remain well know today. Even though Griswald is out of business. Griswald remained the cast iron business until 1953. The Griswald and Wagner trademarks were sold to General Housewares. At that item the trademarks were dropped and General Housewares continues to manufacture cast iron pot today.
The Pots were shipped to the Americas and also made here, they were taken to the villages and distributed by salesmen in wagons. When a salesman or trader was seen coming with his pots clanging on the side hangers, people would say here comes the Dutchman with his ovens. So, that is how the name Dutch Oven came about. Some were called dinner pots, Gypsy pots, Bean pots, Stew pots, and Stock pots. Some things have changed with the ovens, but it still makes an excellent baking, browning, boiling and frying pot. The ovens are self basting and allow no food value to escape until it's done. By learning to judge your heats and not lifting the lid, you will maintain more than 80% of the food value. If you lift your lid you will add 15 minutes to the cook time plus let out the nutrients of your food. With cast iron you add iron to your diet.
Can't beat that for a healthy family cooking pot.
It really thrills me to see so many people attending classes and demonstrations of the pots. I have been cooking in them all my life, and the first of my cookbooks called Log Cabin Grub is filled with old time recipes from pioneer heritage. The other 6 all pertain to Dutch Oven cooking or cast iron cooking. I have Log Cabin Dutch Oven, Log Cabin Leftovers,
Log Cabin Holiday's & Traditions, Log Cabin Camp Fire,
Log Cabin Lewis & Clark, and Log Cabin All about Potatoes. You can find these on this site or at www.logcabingrub.com site.
Heating cast iron to evaporate all the moisture is the only way to really dry them so that you do not get rust. Avoiding the use of heavy oils will prevent the rancid taste you sometimes get when you oil them before putting them away. Cleaning the rust out with apple cyder vinegar, and hay makes them easy to maintain. Cast iron is a lifetime investment and if cared for will be a heirloom to your family that you can keep passing down for years. Make it your way of cooking today and carry on the old traditions.
Try your favorite recipe by warming your oven and lightly oiling it, put the food in, place in your oven at 350 degrees and wait for the smell. It will tell you when its done. Like my Grandma said, "Kissin wears out but Cookin Don't." COOK WITH LOVE, it's the only ingredient missing.
|Dutch Oven Checklist|
___ Dutch Ovens
___ Lid Lifter
___ Lid Rest
___ Dutch Oven Trivets
___ Charcoal Briquets (Kingsford)
___ Lighter Fluid, and matches
___ Charcoal Starter
___ Spoons,fork, knife, can opener, cutting board, hot pads, vegetable peeler, and measuring cups and spoons.
___ Aluminum Foil
___ Cook Book
___ Long Tongs
___ Storage Bag
___ Paper Towels
___ Dutch Oven Scraper
___ Spray bottle of vinegar
___ Spray bottle of oil
___ Don't forget the Food!!!