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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
A Jamaican kitchen is simply incomplete without a good old Dutch (dutchie) pot. It is a must-have in every household, and I for one, can’t even imagine cooking some of my favourite Jamaican dishes without one.
If you were to check the Dutch pot of most Jamaicans, it is an extremely high possibility that you will find them permanently darkened because of constant use, or probably with a cracked or broken handle. If you visit a friend’s home in Jamaica and their Dutch pot is nice and shiny it's a good possibility that they either don’t cook many Jamaican foods or the pots are new.
The Jamaican Dutchie or Dutch pot is a heavy iron pot that is used to prepare many traditional Jamaican dishes. While Dutch pots come in many different sizes, they are typically made in only a few specific shapes. The most common ones are short Dutch pots with semi-circular bottoms. The Dutch pot got its name because it was first imported to Jamaica by Dutch traders in the Netherlands.
Dutch pots are made by heavy cast irons. Cast iron, which was developed by the Chinese are made by combining molten iron and sand that is then formed into the desired shape.
This Jamaican pot is used for cooking and baking almost everything. The semi-circular Dutch pots are specially used for frying dumplings, stewing meats or stir-frying veggies. Other Dutch pots are used for boiling tea, cooking ground provisions or soups. Making ackee and saltfish, brown stew chicken or stewed beef is just not the same if it isn’t done in a Dutch pot.
Yes! The Jamaican Dutch pot can be used in an oven but remember Dutch pots are typically heavy so if you are going to use one in the oven ensure that you are resting it on a sturdy grill or tray inside the oven and its best to use a Dutch pot with a flat round bottom than those with the semi-circular shape.
As a matter of fact, the Dutch pots have always been used for baking, even before we had the use of gas ovens. Although this isn't as common anymore, it is a method that is still used by many older folks, especially those residing in rural areas. It is most commonly used for baking sweet potato or cornmeal puddings.
The very popular Jamaican saying “hell a top, hell a bottom, hallelujah inna di middle” perfectly describes the baking method commonly used when using a Dutch pot. The pot is placed on what we call a coal pot and a metal tray or piece of zinc roofing filled with hot coals is used to cover the pot, allowing the pudding to cook from both top and bottom at the same time. And of course, the sweet pudding itself is the hallelujah in that phrase.
However, Dutch pots are not just about food. They are a critical part of a Jamaican celebration. During major events like Olympics Jamaicans gather the lids of their Dutch pots. Whenever a race is won by one of our fellow Jamaicans you can hear the cheerful shouts accompanied by the Dutch pot covers clanging together from miles away as the win is celebrated in Jamaican fashion.
Yes. you absolutely can but bear in mind electric stoves cook much slower than gas stoves and because of the thickness of Dutch pots, they take much longer to heat up. So if you are looking to make a quick meal, a Dutch pot on an electric stove is definitely not your best option.
It is an old school requirement for new dutchies, to be seasoned (cured) before it is used. The first thing you will need to do is wash the pot with hot soapy water. Once that is done heat the pot on the stove with the cover on then.
Once the pot has gotten to a scorching heat get some mitten on your hands and rub some oil, butter or lard on the inside and outside of both the pot and its cover. Set aside and let it cool down to room temperature before using.
While many persons have switched to modern-day pots, like non-stick aluminum pots, the Jamaican Dutch pot is simply an irreplaceable culinary tool for every Jamaican household.
And where can you get one, yes the same good ole Jamaican dutch pot?
Truth is they are really hard to get these days but if you visit a local market in Jamaica you'll likely find one!
If you are outside of Jamaica, good news! We currently supply it on the My-Island-Jamaica e-store in all shapes and sizes. Be sure to stop by and check them out
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