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Black Kettle Used For Variety Of Cooking Methods
March 27th, 2017

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As a means of cooking a variety of foods, one of the most popular pieces of cookware during the westward movement was the cast iron black kettle. Usually made of thick and exceptionally heavy cast iron, the kettle was usually equipped with a handle for hanging over an open fire or with legs to hold it above hot coals. Often used to make pots of stew or other types of food, the black kettle was part of nearly every early pioneer's life.

Possibly one of the most often dubious uses of a black kettle is depicted in movies regarding witchcraft as it is shown over a fire with the witch's brew being cooked up inside. There appears to be no basis of fact for the depiction, save the writings of a few imaginative writers. However, available in many sizes the black kettle is still widely used by campers and others in the outdoors to provide hot water and hot meals while cooking in the wild.

Not to be confused with the Cheyenne leader who was killed in 1868 at the battle of Washita River, the term black kettle can be used to describe any size cast iron pot used for cooking. Today, most kettles are made of copper, stainless steel or some other metal, often coated with a non-stick surface.

Seasoning Kettle Helped Lengthen Its Life

Like most cast iron cookware, the black kettle required it to be seasoned with oil prior to its first use and after intense cleaning. When properly seasoned a non-stick surface was created and it helped to protect the iron from oxidation, or rust. The process was simple but took time to make sure that every inside surface of the black kettle was protected.

To begin, the black kettle should be cleaned with light detergent and rinsed completely and should be down to the bare metal. Once cooled, the inside is evenly coated with cooking oil, whichever type preferred by the user and then heated, allowing the oil to evaporate from the surface. Some instructions use the term to "cook off" but that might be interpreted as allowing it to catch fire an burn, but will not result in the desired effect.

Once the oil has been evaporated, it leaves a fine film over the inner surface of black kettle and will remain there after use. To clean, it should be treated as any other type of coated cookware to prevent scratching the oil from the surface.