Sacre Bleu! I killed my Le Cruset dutch oven!

This was my cooking experience on my solo camping trip. Please forgive me! To all of those foodies out there who know how to cook while they are camping – it wasn’t my fault! I did not intend to cook my pork tenderloin with potatoes onions and carrots in my 4 quart Le Cruset dutch oven in an open fire. First I didn’t know that you shouldn’t put pots on a direct flame. Problem was that the grate was too heavy to move over the wood and I didn’t have a choice. Second, I never cooked over an open fire before and had no idea about the heat. I found out later that I should have waited for the fire to burn down and use the wood coals to cook. #1 lesson learned. Third, I thought that the foil would keep the flames away from the pot. It didn’t and stuck to the pot.

OK, it was a disgusting mess. Determined to bring my dutch oven back from the dead, I bought all of the tools needed after researching on how to clean fire damaged cast iron. Armed with water, baking soda and vinegar, I made my first attempt to revive my pot. I boiled the water and added vinegar and baking soda and boiled for 1/2 hour at a time. After 3 tries, I was able to see the color on the outside and the inside looked promising.

At one point, I took a razor and tried to scrape the soot and burnt bits off, then I tried to sand the soot on the outside with my Dremel moto tool, but scratched the surface and stopped. OK, back to hot water and scrubbing. I also read that citric acid and a heavy duty green sponge would work but you have to be careful not to damage the pot. Me and Ed at work looked up citric acid online because there wasn’t any in the lab. What do you know, this stuff is used for canning tomatoes and was available at Target and it was only $3.00!
Hah! There’s light at the end of the tunnel. More boiling water, baking soda and now the citric acid in the pot. There was foam bubbling at the top of the water and I had to watch pretty closely to avoid it boiling over. After 2 more nights of 1/2 hour scrubbing, the pot began to be recognizable. Still, the outside was a mess and I looked for more options.

Voila! One more option that really worked – Bar Keepers Friend! Woo Hoo! I had the liquid for of this brand and found a green heavy duty sponge. The scrubbing started again, and finally, the inside of the pot was like new and the outside was looking much better. I can now use the pot and lid, which wasn’t too damaged, and will buy more BKF and scrub the outside until it’s back to it’s original condition. After several nights of scrubbing, I feel much better with the transformation and I found new muscles in my arms. YAY!
Note: I cooked on my propane stove after this experience. I will buy a grate if I decide to cook on a fire again.

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