Brick outdoor ovens require curing before use. This is to protect your oven against cracks and ensure it lasts for a long period of time. We don’t recommend you miss or rush this step, as cracks in an outdoor oven can affect airflow which will negate your cooking efforts.
Why cure an outdoor oven?
When you build with bricks you mix water into the concrete and this can leave a lot of excess moisture. You will need to essentially dry out your oven before use, otherwise the high temperatures from cooking inside your oven will cause cracks in the foundations. If the oven gets too hot water will try to escape and you will notice holes in the dome. This will affect cooking as heat will escape. It is important to cure your oven properly before use to ensure the oven lasts for a long period of time. Some lines may still appear on your oven after curing and that is normal, as long as you’ve cured your oven properly they shouldn’t increase. Hairline cracks are normal but holes or gaps are not, if you are unsure however always seek advice.
How long does it take to cure an oven?
It is usually recommended you build your oven temperatures over at least five days. If you ramp up the temperature too soon, the oven is likely to crack. New ovens that have just been cast need to be cured properly before cooking to ensure they get rid of any excess moisture. Some people choose to cure their oven a couple of times before use but once is all you really need, as long as you steadily build up the temperature. If you haven’t used your oven for a while, it may be a good idea to do a smaller version of the original oven curing. Light a gentle fire the day before you want to cook in your oven to get rid of any moisture that it may have soaked up while being out of use. Likewise, if the weather has been poor and your oven has been subject to a particular amount of rain, you should also consider curing your oven before use.
To prevent any excess moisture getting into your outdoor oven you should consider purchasing a cover to sit on top of the brick.
After curing, how long before I can cook in my oven?
After you have completed the curing process you can start cooking in your oven immediately. On the fifth day as you’re lighting your oven you could build up the fuel ready to start cooking.
How to cure your outdoor oven
There are two ways to cure your outdoor oven. You can either build a fire in your oven or you can build a fire elsewhere and place the hot coals from that fire into your oven. The latter would only be advisable as an option for the first day of your curing process as you will need to build up temperature and get your oven used to that environment before use. If you have built your own brick oven you will also need to leave some time in between finishing your construct and curing. We normally recommend about a week to let the bricks settle. You can see slight lines on the dome as they settle but this is normal and safe.
If you wanted to light a fire elsewhere, for example your fire pit, you could shovel the hot coals from the fire into your oven. This is a steady introduction to heat for your oven but realistically if you want to get your oven used to cooking, it is better recommended you light a fire within your oven. We have a guide on how to light your oven properly if you’re unsure but for curing you would normally create a fire in the centre of the dome. This will allow the flames to spread evenly throughout the dome and it won’t be too close to the foundations to cause any issues. You also want to leave the door slightly ajar on your oven for extra ventilation. You don’t want things to hot up too much inside as this will cause cracks. Use a temperature gauge to monitor the fire but ideally on day one of the curing process you don’t want to reach higher than 300°F. Aim to let the fire burn for around six hours. Curing does require some attention because you do have to monitor the temperature to make sure it doesn’t exceed 300° in this period. It can be quite time consuming but it is better to do this now and avoid any issue later.
Day Two of curing involves much of the same process. You light a fire in the middle of your oven and burn it for several hours. The temperature does increase on day two of curing however, you should raise the heat to 350°F. When checking the temperature of the oven you should monitor that pf the dome. You will see from our oven cooking guide that it can take a while for the oven floor to heat in particular so that may give you cooler readings leading you to increasing the flames. This may then cause the top of the oven to get too hot and crack. It is always better to be cooler on the first two days that our recommended temperatures than too hot so bear this in mind.If your fire does get too hot, don’t extinguish simply add more logs on to the fire. We only recommend you cure your oven with logs of wood or wood chips because charcoal and gasoline will excel the fire beyond the temperatures we are trying to achieve, and it is easy to lose control of fires using stronger fuels. After you have finished burning your fire, sweep the ashes out of your oven and close the door. This will keep it dry overnight. While curing your oven you should use a rain cover in case of bad weather.
On day three we start to raise the temperature again of the oven. We recommend raising temperatures by 50° extra day during curing so day three you should aim to reach 400°F. There should be less smoke when curing now and if possible it would be better if you could burn for slightly longer than six hours.
Raise the fire temperature to 450°F. You repeat the same process each day during curing simply raising the temperature per day. You may also want to burn for longer durations as the days increase.
Today’s fire should be 500°F and this is the final day. Once you’ve burned for at least six hours your oven should be ready to use, if you time curing well on this day you could build the fire to your desired temperature and cook dinner for the first time in your oven.
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Outdoor Ovens FAQs
To help you choose the right oven for you, we have put together a list of our most frequently asked questions from other customers. From assembly to painting advice, we have a varied list of questions that will hopefully answer all your queries.
How To Cure Your Outdoor Oven
Brick outdoor ovens require curing before use. This is to protect your oven against cracks and ensure it lasts for a long period of time. Check out our helpful guide to ensure you're doing it right.