I'm a huge fan of my Dutch oven. I break it out so often in the wintertime for hearty foods like delicious stews and braised meats that by the end of the season it's ready to hibernate! And every once in a while I abuse the poor thing by making something without enough liquid, or leaving it on the stove for so long that I end up with burnt bits everywhere.
While we typically clean the Dutch oven with soap and water after every use, it's not always as vigorously as humanly possible. So after a few months, it gets a bit of a patina — even if it doesn't have burnt-on bits.
Because my Dutch oven is made of enameled cast iron it's super-durable, but a little fragile, too, because it can chip or crack. I know not to use metal utensils while I'm stirring, or to try cleaning the surface with steel wool, which is so abrasive that it can scratch the enamel and ruin it. But sometimes you just need extra scrubbing power! You can try a soak in hot water, or a paste made with baking soda (baking soda is a gentle abrasive), but sometimes you need to call in the big guns.
That's why Bar Keeper's Friend is my Dutch oven's new BFF. Now, I'm a relatively new user of BKF — I had honestly never tried it before researching it for this site last year. Well, let me tell you, I'm a convert now! It has just enough scrubbing power to really get to baked-on debris, without harming the enamel. It's also scrubby enough to easily remove a film of built-up food stains that, say, you might not have noticed on your Dutch oven until you sat down to write an article about how to clean it. Whoopsie.
Buy: Bar Keeper's Friend, $4 for 12 ounces
The process is easy: Just wet the surface of the pot, sprinkle on Bar Keeper's Friend, and start scrubbing. It works just about instantly. Once you're done, thoroughly rinse it and give it another scrub with dish soap and water — just to be safe. You'll be just as amazed as I was by the results!
More on BKF and Cleaning Dutch Ovens
Do you use Bar Keeper's Friend on your Dutch oven? What else do you use it for?