In order to understand why a particular Dutch oven is good for the outdoors over an open campfire, you need to know what features it has that make it different from a piece of indoor cookware. The most common and important variations between the two types of cooking pots are the lid, fit, legs and size, each of which provide a specific function.
To start, the lid has a lip around it, which serves to hold burning coals, as you need to heat the top and bottom of the oven in order to bake your food. Additionally, this lip prevents the coals and ashes from burning you or falling into the food when you lift the lid to check, stir or serve your meal.
The fit of the lid is also important, as it is more secure on an outdoor oven than on those used for indoor cooking. However, despite the perfect fit, the lid is still loose enough to prevent the build up of pressure so liquids do not overflow.
An indoor Dutch oven, like the Stansport Gourmet Castware Dutch Oven, does not have legs because it sits flat on the cooking rack in your oven.
An outdoor oven needs legs because it stands over a bed of hot coals. The three or four legs on this piece of outdoor cookware prevent the oven from sitting on and crushing the coals while also allowing the coals to receive the air they need to stay hot. This is an important feature because the size of an outdoor cast-iron pot is quite larger than one used for indoors, as their main function, aside from cooking, is to hold more food.
This cast-iron Dutch oven is almost exactly how this type of outdoor cookware should be, as the lid fits tightly and has the extra lip mentioned for coals. It is large enough to hold food for at least ten people and offers you easy access to a thermometer.
The one caveat of this outdoor pot is that it does not work alone, which is the reason it has no legs. The design of this outdoor oven is for it to work with the Volcano II Collapsible Stove, which does have legs and holes for ventilation. By combining the two, you have a full kitchen set-up, as you now have an oven and a stove with which you can do all your emergency or camping cooking.
Since the purpose of this Dutch cast-iron oven is more for emergency use, many retailers only carry limited quantities. The fact it has a stove top means you can sterilize utensils and flatware, as well as wounds, by safely boiling water. This method of cooking also retains more nutrients because you are baking as opposed to using water then straining or frying with heavy oils. By getting more of the sustenance your body needs, you can eat less and conserve food.
The Volcano oven alone has a retail value of approximately $60 while the stove portion is close to $100. Consumers who purchased this product seem to think it was worth the investment though, as it has a five star rating.
However, if you do not want a stove or prefer to spend less, Lodge Logic has an eight-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with legs and a lid that doubles as a grill when flipped upside down for around $55. You can also use this customer-rated, five star oven over a fire instead of coal.
A Dutch oven is probably the best piece of cookware you can have when it comes to an emergency or camping. For a reasonable cost, you can have nutritious food, clean drinking water and sterilize wounds. You might even like your new oven so much that you take up camping in your yard.