Cast Irons Dutch Ovens come in two principle designs. Ones that are designed for Camping and ones that are designed for home use.
In general the inside of the ovens are the same. both have a solid cast iron wall, bottom and lid. The differences are in the shape of the lid, the handle and the legs that the dutch oven sits on.
Camping Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
A camping cast iron dutch oven has several traits that set it apart from the home usage ones. This is regardless of the size of the dutch oven that you get.
The lid on a camping dutch oven has an inset look to it with a lip around the edge. This is to allow you to put coals on top of the dutch oven without them coming off.
On camping dutch ovens there is a metal handle that is shaped in a half circle and hooked onto the side of the dutch oven. This is to allow you to hook the dutch oven with a tool and move it. You can also use this handle to hang the dutch oven over a fire.
The legs on a camping dutch oven are little pegs an inch or two in size. This is designed to allow you to place coals underneath the dutch oven and have the oven resting on the legs and not necessarily on the coals. Resting the oven directly on the coals could cause you to set your oven down in an uneven manner and getting and uneven cook.
Home Use Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
By contrast the home use cast iron dutch oven is designed with a different approach in mind.
The lid on a dutch oven for home use is one of the biggest differences from that of it’s camping counterpart. the lid is rounded at the top and does not have a lip on the sides. This is because the dutch oven for home use is not designed to have things on top of it. Rather the lid is designed to allow moisture and pressure to build up inside the oven. Thus giving your food a better and more even cook.
On the home versions of a dutch oven there is no half circle handle hooked to the sides of the oven. Rather there is a small handle in the middle of the lid of the dutch oven. This small handle can get very hot as it is part of the lid – so be sure to use a mit or glove or something before touching it.
Home dutch ovens also have handles on opposite sides of the oven that are designed for carrying. These handles will also get as hot as the oven is that you are working with – so be sure to use care when touching them.
On the home version of a dutch oven there really are not legs. This is to allow you to place the dutch oven evenly on top of a stove top cooking counter or on an oven rack in your home oven. If it had the legs that were found on the camping version, it would get caught up on the oven racks or damage the stove top cook area.
Which style of dutch oven do you use the most – let us know in the comments below.