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Dutch Oven Cooking with Food Storage

Have you ever wondered how you would cook your food storage when there is no gas or electricity for any length of time? There is a real possibility that this could happen. For instance, ice storms that take out power lines for weeks, tornadoes that do the same, earthquakes breaking natural gas and electrical lines, or a virus in the computer system of the power company. Any of these emergencies could happen to us today. Think about it. There’s not always sun to use your solar oven, the barbeque doesn’t bake bread very well, and that camp stove is going to run out of fuel if you have to use it for very long.  So, what do you use for long-term cooking? Easy, get “back to basics”.  Use what the cooks on those cattle drives, the pioneers crossing the plains, and Lewis and Clark used, the good olde Dutch Oven! And what about fuel? Wood, buffalo chips, etc. are okay, but modern day charcoal briquettes are the best.  And, they are easy to store,not dangerous in any way, and if they get wet you just dry them out and use them.

OK, if the stores are out of food and everything in there refrigerator and freezer is eaten up or spoiled, what will you eat? Hopefully you have food stored and you know how to fix it. You will have to use your #10 cans of dried or freeze-dried foods if you have some, and those cans or jars of tomatoes, peaches, soup, etc. you have stored in the pantry, basement or garage. Are there any recipes using just this type of food?  Yes there are. There is a book, “Don’t be afraid of your food storage…just Dutch it!” and all the recipes in it are made from food storage and cooked in a Dutch oven. In the following pages I will share with you a sampling of some of those delicious recipes so you can make great tasting meals and learn how to cook them in Dutch ovens. But first let me tell you about Dutch ovens.


Buying and caring for a Dutch oven

You need to have a “camp” type Dutch oven. This is not the oven you find in your cooking magazines, but the kind you take camping and use for outdoor cooking.  It is made out of cast iron (there are also aluminum ones,) has a flat bottom, and three short legs.  These legs allow you to move briquettes in and out from under them, regulating the oven temperature.  The lid has a raised rim around the edge so coals will stay on top while cooking.

Now the big question…..what size do I need and how many ovens should I have? This is something you need to think about. If you start out with a 12” oven you will be at a good starting point.  I also like a 14” and a 10”. With three ovens you can cook your meals very easily.  This could change depending on how many people you are cooking for.  Also you can take advantage of stack cooking.  This maximizes your charcoal.  Your top charcoal becomes the bottom for the one stacked on top.  You may want to look at how deep they are as well.  You may want to have deep ovens for soups etc.

Below is a picture of 4 ovens of different sizes stacked up to show sizes and stack cooking technique.  Of course to cook you will need to add hot charcoal briquettes. The ovens are 14”, 12”, 10”, and 5”.

Dutch ovens and a charcoal chimney starter             32 gallon garbage can filled with charcoal,

(don’t cook next to your picnic table)                      then put on tight fitting lid. 1-2 months of fuel.

Wash your new Dutch oven (or the one you might have picked up at a yard sale) in hot soapy water and scrub off the protective wax or oil put on by the manufacturer (unless told otherwise per instructions with oven), then dry quickly. To do this use a stiff brush or green scrubbing pad. Dutch ovens are iron and will rust if not kept dry, even for a short time. This will be the only time you should need to use soap on your oven.

Now you need to “season” the oven.  While still warm from washing, wipe dry oven and lid all over with a lightly oiled paper towel or cotton cloth.  Use regular vegetable oil.  Don’t pour oil into oven, pour oil onto cloth, then wipe. After oiling Dutch oven, place it in your kitchen oven on the bottom rack at 350 degrees with lid ajar. Bake one hour.  You may get strange smelling fumes so open a few windows. Once the Dutch oven has cooled down, remove it, oil it, and bake it again.  Leave it in the kitchen oven until warm, remove it, then oil it lightly one more time.  Your Dutch oven is ready to use.  You will notice it has turned a golden color. But after continued use it will have a black shine.  This is what we want. If it does rust, just repeat the above process.

After cooking in it, scrape it out with a spatula. After it has cooled slightly, put an inch or so of water in it (Do Not Put Cold Water In A Hot Dutch Oven, You Could Crack It!) and return to the coals to boil and steam out the stuck on food.  After several minutes remove and when not too hot lightly scrub with a brush or cleaning pad.  Dry and lightly coat with oil.

You need to make sure it is clean and dry.  Be sure it is lightly coated with regular oil and wipe off excess.  I always store my ovens with a small wad of aluminum foil under the rim of the lid. It is also recommended to place a piece of paper towel or cotton cloth in the Dutch oven to absorb any moisture.  If you don’t crack the lid with foil or something I have found it very hard to get the lid off after it has been stored for along period of time.  Make sure you store it in a dry place.

Cooking in the Dutch Oven

There are several tools you will need to have:

*  Lid lifter and/or long handled tongue and groove pliers

*  Gloves

*  16” or longer tongs

*  Charcoal chimney starter (optional but almost a must have)

*  Newspaper and/or lighter fluid

*  Matches

*  Long handled spoon

*  Charcoal

*  Vegetable oil and applying clothes or paper towels

*  Bricks for lid cooking

When cooking in your Dutch oven it must be on a flat surface clear of dried weeds, grass, etc.  This is where a Dutch oven table is nice but not necessary. An inexpensive item to cook on is a 12” square concrete stepping stone. Get two so you have one for the charcoal chimney. After the briquettes are hot, then what?  You will need to place the hot coals (they are ready to use when they have a white ash on part of them) evenly spaced around in a circle the size of the Dutch oven. Place the top coals evenly spaced on the lid.  Use the tongs to do this.

Each recipe tells you how many briquettes to use. The basic rule is:  If it is a 10” oven, use 20 coals, 12” oven use 24 coals,etc.  Just double the diameter of your oven and that is the amount of coals you will need to cook with.  This equals about 350 degrees.  For a cooler oven (like with granola) useless, for a hotter oven (like with rolls) use more.  When baking you need twice as many coals on the top as you have on the bottom.  This is because heat rises, therefore more heat is needed on the top.

With your Dutch oven you can fry, bake, boil, or use the lid as a griddle.  Anything you cook in your kitchen oven or on the stove top, you can cook with a Dutch oven!


I would like to share our story about how we came up with recipes using only food storage items. My husband Archie decided we needed to write a book about cooking food storage in Dutch ovens. We had cooked many different foods in Dutch ovens: biscuits and gravy, upside-down cakes, cobblers, chicken with rice, beef stew, rolls, and even Chicken Cordon Blue.  But we didn’t have any recipes using just dried and canned food, since that is what we had stored. In an emergency there would probably be no fresh meats, no fresh vegetables or fruit, no fresh milk products, and no frozen microwave meals if the power was out and we could not get food from the store.


Archie cooking food storage on                  Dinner Rolls and Pineapple Up-side Down

a metal table in the backyard                            Cake cooked on camping trip

We were pretty good at Dutch oven cooking, but I had never used just food storage items to cook with, and had never even thought of cooking food storage in Dutch ovens.

That is when I got to work.  I wanted to have recipes that we were used to, so I got out some of my favorite recipes and modified them to use only food storage items.

Dinner Rolls

10” or larger Dutch oven, 4 round or square cake pans; makes 32 rolls

24 briquettes: 8 on bottom, 16 on top (more if using a larger oven)


1 Tbsp. yeast

¼ cup warm water

¾ cup warm milk (reconstituted powdered milk)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup oil

3 – 4 cups fine whole wheat flour


Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in milk,sugar, salt, egg (if using it), oil or shortening and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth, mix in remaining flour.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 5 -10 minutes. Grease medium size bowl, place dough in bowl then turn dough over so greased side is up.  Cover with towel and let rise in warm (not hot) place until double in size, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Dough is ready if finger impression remains.  Punch down dough and form into your favorite type of rolls.  For our example you will make pan rolls.

Grease pans that will fit into your Dutch oven. You can bake directly in your oven so use foil to line it, then grease foil.  The only down fall of this method is you can’t pre-heat the oven.  I use 9 inch round cake pans or 8 inch square pans.  This recipe will make 4 pans of rolls, 8 – 9 rolls in each pan. Divide dough into 4 equal parts.  For round pans, form 8 balls of dough out of each divided part of dough.  If using square pans, form 9 balls of dough for each pan. Place balls of dough equal distance apart in pans.  Cover and rise 20 – 30 minutes.  To pre-heat, place Dutch ovens over coals (don’t forget the top too) 10 minutes before baking rolls.  Place one pan in each oven, being sure tossed rolls of flattened foil underneath pans. You may have to cook several batches of rolls, or you can stack ovens to conserve charcoal.  Bake 15 minutes,then lift lid to check rolls.  They should be golden brown when done.  Bake longer if necessary.  If you were cooking in a kitchen oven you would be baking at 400 degrees.


Add 1 egg (fresh or dried)


Replace oil with butter or butter flavored shortening

Replace whole wheat flour with white flour

Note:  If you are using a square pan, you must use at least a 12” Dutch oven. These rolls are really easy and taste great.


The kids will get pretty grouchy if they don’t have some dessert once in a while that they really like.  This chocolate cake is really good; quick and easy too.

Chocolate Cake

10” or larger Dutch oven, 8 or 9 inch round or square pan; serves 9

24 – 26 briquettes;10 on bottom, 14- 16 on top; pre-heat 5 minutes; bake 30 minutes


1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. vinegar (white or apple cider)

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup water

1/3 cup oil


Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Mix the vinegar, vanilla and water together and then add to the dry ingredients. Add the oil and mix well until smooth and creamy, about one minute.Grease and flour pan, pour batter in pan. Place pan on foil ring and cook around 30 minutes. (check after 20minutes). Cake is done when it has pulled away from sides of pan.


Use white flour in place of whole wheat


Use melted butter in place of oil

Dust top of cooked cake with powdered sugar

Note:  Do the kids love chocolate cake?  Well you better have plenty of cocoa and vinegar stored because this cake is a favorite with children.

I really like apple cake and banana bread.  I made those recipes out of dried fruit with no eggs.

Banana Bread

12” or larger Dutch oven; 1 loaf

24 briquettes: 8 on bottom, 16 on top; cook 1 hour


1 cup sugar

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

1 cup dried bananas, broken into very small pieces, soaked until tender, and drained

½ cup oil

¼ cup reconstituted powdered milk

1 tsp. vanilla


Lightly grease loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients (first 5) together.  Cream together remaining ingredients, then add wet ingredients to dry.  Mix well.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake on foil ring for 1 hour.  Check for done-ness.  Cook until done (bread has pulled slightly away from sides). Do not add more briquets.


Replace whole wheat flour with white flour


Replace oil with butter or butter flavored shortening

Replace ½ of sugar with brown sugar

Add walnuts

Note:  You might say, “Banana Bread out of dried bananas?”  Yes, this works really well. It is better the next day too, since the banana flavor has had time to permeate the whole loaf.  Enjoy this one!

I really like pie, so I made whole wheat pie with dried apricots and raisins; here is apple pie made from dried apples.

Dried Fruit Apple Pie

12” Dutch oven, 10”oven or a pot to cook filling; serves 8-10

24 briquettes: 18 to cook filling, then 8 on bottom and 16 on top; pre-heat for 5 minutes; bake 40 minutes


1 – Unbaked 9” pie shell, trimmed to edge,and 1 – rolled pie crust for top

3 cups dried fruit: Apricots,apples, raisins, peaches, etc. or combination

2-3 cups water for soaking (soaking fruit 30 minutes will save on cooking time) drain,

reserving liquid

1 3/4 cup fruit liquid

¾ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. corn starch or ¼ cup flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

1 Tbsp. shortening or oil

Dash of salt


Make pastry. Soak fruit 30 minutes.  Drain,reserving liquid. Put fruit and 1 3/4 cup of reserved liquid into Dutch oven or pot on bed of coals and bring to boil, stirring constantly. If using separate pot, support on bricks so pot is not directly on coals. Mix spices with sugar and cornstarch or flour and add to fruit. Stir until dissolved and bubbling. Add fat and salt.  Fruit should have thickened.  It will thicken more as the baked pie cools. Pour hot mixture into pie shell. Moisten pie around edge with a little water so top will stick better.  Cover with top and trim top crust 1 inch from rim of pan. Tuck top crust under bottom crust around edge.  Flute edge or use fork to seal edge together. Cut slits in top crust with sharp knife (4-6 slits, 1 inch long).  Dampen top crust with a little water and sprinkle on a little sugar if desired.  Place pie into clean Dutch oven (pre-heated for 5 minutes) on rods or rolled foil so pie is not directly on bottom of oven. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes. Check after 30 minutes.  If top is getting too brown, cover with foil or remove some coals from top of oven. Cook until juices bubble inside slits.  Remove and cool.


Use butter flavored shortening or margarine for fat


Use real butter for fat

Use fresh fruit and reduce liquid to1 cup

Note:  This fruit pie will blow you away.  After you serve it to your family they’ll think you bought it at some fancy pastry shop. The texture and flavor is out of this world.  No one will believe you made it in a Dutch oven.  After you make your first one, try some different fruits.  We made apple and also a raisin/apricot.  They were both really good!  This crust, even though it’s made with whole wheat, is wonderful.  Have fun with this one.  It’s one of the best surprises in this whole book.

Pie Crust Pastry

12” Dutch oven;serves 8

24 briquettes: 10 on bottom, 14 on top; cook 5 – 10 minutes

For two-crust pie:

2 cups whole wheat or white flour plus extra for rolling

¾ tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)

¾ cup shortening, oil, or lard (use2/3 cup if using oil or lard)

5-6 Tbsp. cold water, 8-9” pie pan


Measure flour,salt and sugar into bowl. Cut in shortening, using two knives or pastry cutter. Sprinkle in water a little at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and dough mostly sticks together (don’t make sticky wet). You may need to add 1-2 teaspoons of additional water. Divide in half. Put one half on lightly floured surface and gently flatten, shaping into flattened round.  Roll out to two inches larger than inverted pie pan, gently turning and flouring underneath, being sure it does not stick to surface.  When large enough fold in half and place in pie pan. Shape crust down into pie pan, then trim overhanging edge of pastry to ½ inch from rim of pan. Roll out top crust.  Put filling into pie pan, moisten pastry edge around rim with water, then center top crust on pie. Trim top crust to one inch from rim. Tuck top crust under rim edge of bottom crust and flute or seal with fork marks around edge. Make 4-6 slits in top with sharp knife so steam can escape. Bake as directed in recipe. For baked pie shell, trim bottom crust 1 inch from rim, turn under and flute edge. Poke holes in crust with a fork evenly all over sides and bottom.  Bake in hot oven 5-10 minutes until golden. Be sure it is baked off of the bottom of oven.

Note:  Use some of your instant pudding in a baked pie shell for a special treat.


One of my favorites on a cold day is Chicken Noodle soup.  Here is my version:


Chicken Noodle Soup

10”or larger Dutch oven; serves 6

20-25 briquettes, all on bottom; cook 30 – 40 minutes


5 cups water

2 cups egg noodles

½ tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. dried onion

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1-3 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper


Bring 5 cups of water to boil over all the briquets in your Dutch oven.  Add all ingredients, making sure chicken is broken up into pieces.  When soup boils again remove half of coals and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until noodles are tender.


Add 1 tsp. celery powder or 1 Tbsp. dried celery

1 Tbsp. dried carrots


1 can chicken, liquid too

Note:  This soup has lots of noodles.  If you like more broth, just cut back on the noodles or add more water and bouillon. Enjoy this with a slice of whole wheat bread.

I like Au Gratin potatoes and came up with the following recipe:

AuGratin Potatoes

12” Dutch oven with 9” glass, 2 qt. casserole dish. You can also use 10” oven without dish.

24 briquettes: 8bottom, 16 top; serves 8


5 cups dried potato slices

½ tsp. salt

1 – 2 Tbsp. dried onion

2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour

1cup powdered milk in 4 cups water

Salt and pepper

½ – 1cup cheese powder

1 cup crumbled bread crumbs


Soak potatoes and salt for 1 hour.  Drain (save water for mixing with milk). Grease casserole or line Dutch oven in foil and layer ½ of potatoes in bottom. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and ½ of onion and ½ of cheese powder.   Layer remaining potatoes, then salt and pepper, onion, and remaining cheese powder.  Mix reconstituted milk and whisk in flour. Pour over potatoes. Bake in oven, checking every 15 minutes.  On the 3rd checking, sprinkle bread crumbs over potatoes. Cover and bake 15 more minutes. Be sure bottom does not burn.  It would be best to make a foil ring* to set casserole dish on. Cook 1 hour, checking every 15 minutes.


Use white flour in place of whole wheat

Replace powdered milk with evaporated milk and water.


Use 1 cup grated freeze dried cheddar cheese to replace cheese powder

Note: When I first made these I wasn’t sure how good they would be, but after making my first batch, I am sold.  You will need to increase the amount of dried potatoes you have in your storage, along with the cheese powder (store this in freezer for a longer shelf life).

*To make a foil ring take an 8” sheet of foil, roll up like a snake, shape into a coil, flatten slightly, and you have a baking rack to use in your Dutch oven.

Au Gratin Potatoes

Let’s not forget something for Breakfast.  Here is a great recipe for Granola:



12”- 14” Dutch oven;makes 3 ½ cups

18 briquettes, 6 on bottom, 12 on top; cook 40 minutes


3 cups rolled oats (Quick or old fashioned. For a higher protein cereal, substitute 1 cup plain TVP for 1 cup oats)

½ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup honey

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 ½ Tbsp. oil



Lightly coat bottom of oven with oil.  Mix together oats and flour in a bowl. Heath honey, brown sugar, and oil in Dutch oven until brown sugar is dissolved.  Add dry ingredients and mix until all flour is absorbed and everything  is coated with honey mixture.  Put on the lid and cook for 10 minutes.  Removed lid and stir well.  Replace lid, cook 10 more minutes and stir again.  Cook another 10 minutes, then remove from heat and stir again and leave lid off.  After granola is cooled, store in air tight container.


Add some type of seeds or nuts such as walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds.


Add raisins, dried coconut, etc. after cooking

Note:  When the cold cereal is gone and you are tired of cooked cereal, granola is a welcome alternative.



In making these recipes and many others, I discovered that you need to have lots of oil stored along with plenty of water.  You also need to have a little oil for maintaining your Dutch ovens. When I first made rice pudding it wasn’t very good, so the next time I added oil to the recipe and it was to DIE for.

Besides storing plenty of oil, you need lots of seasonings: spices, dried onions, bouillon cubes, vinegar, etc.  These and other condiments can be added to your storage to make your cooking more flavorful.

Have fun learning how to cook just your food storage in a Dutch oven, so you will Be Prepared for any Emergency.  I’m really glad that I am.



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