The outdoor kitchen – cooking on the camp fire
Preparing your food on the campfire is a completely different and, if done right, a joyful way to cook your food.
A process that goes far beyond mere cutting, cooking, frying and seasoning, because the fire needs to be prepared and you should give it attention and love.
Before you get started, it’s worth cutting everything.
When things get really hot, there is hardly any time to chop!
Also, have your cooking utensils, spices, and water ready.
Tip: Use the extra water if you want to rest your attention more on the fire and the stars without burning your food right away.
Collect enough wood.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with fire cooking or campfires in general, get twice as much wood as originally planned – it will go faster than you think!
If some wood is left after cooking, you can comfortably add a few more logs while eating and rest a bit after 🙂
Light the fire starter (tinder, small branches and grated leaves, ecological grill lighters or natural-colored paper / cardboard) and light a small fire with (preferably) dry sticks, which you then feed with thicker branches.
Once the first larger pieces of wood have been burned to embers and new ones have been put on them, you can start.
How to put the pot on the fire?
3 things are important for successful fire cooking
- You want your food to get heated without ending up in the fire. A stable stand is essential.
- You should be able to keep supplying oxygen and wood
- Have Fun!
Tip: When blowing into the fire … be sure to put a lid on the pot! Or put it away, otherwise you will have ashes in there 😉
Pro tip: Bring the tips of your thumbs and index fingers together so that they form a small diamond (edge length ~ 5mm).
If you blow through there, you channel the airflow and you hardly have to get any closer to your fire!
Depending on the available natural resources, your equipment and the number of stomachs to be filled, there are a number of different ways and variants of cooking in the wild.
The wooden grate
This type of fire cooking only needs some branches as additional material.
Place a base on both sides of the embers – your stone circle may already be suitable for this (hopefully you are making a protective stone circle?) – or you use small tree trunks.
Now you place 2 or 3 thick branches across the embers in front of you, through which flames and air can still rise – air and heat must be able to flow freely.
Place the pot on the wooden rack.
If necessary, you can now put sticks onto the embers to keep the fire going – feed the fire well and it will take care of you too 🙂
Caution: Be careful not to burn the wooden grate through!
If you dump half your food in the fire, remember … it has happened to every ranger 😉
the fire bench
Almost the same technique as the wooden grate.
When you have a “proper” ember, you can also put 2 thin stems over it.
It usually takes them more than half an hour to burn trough.
The wide and long support surface allows you to set up large pans and pots one after the other.
Super practical if you have a large group of nature lovers to feed!
Again, remember to leave space between the embers and the trunks so that you can add more wood and the fire does not suffocate.
Tip: Turn the logs 180° around their longitudinal axis so that the lower, glowing side is now facing up. Like this you can warm up the meal for latecomers or make a tea / coffee.
a great technique – the trench to the fire
There will be pictures .. I promise!!
A simple trench dug before the campfire is lit can help push branches into the embers “under” the pot.
This is a technique you can also use to make underground fires, where you simply place the pot on the ground over a fire hole.
You can use almost any number of trenches dug to the fire hole to supply food in the form of oxygen and wood.
The bigger the pot, the more trenches make sense.
With this method we have already cooked for more than 70 people in 2 huge pots!
The earth warms up and it is actually easier to keep the fire going.
This is also useful if you have a main fire that you do not want to cook on for various reasons (too big & hot, people dance and sing around the fire or it is simply inappropriate).
Then you can transport strong embers into the fire hole and feed them with small sticks, it works great.
This is particularly useful if you are going to camp with a group or want to prepare something that takes a long time to cook (such as lentilsor stews) and you want to use a lower heat.
Just put the pot next to the fire?
This method does not need any preparation except for a little space.
I actually only use it to keep food warm or to reheat it, because you have to stir the contents or turn the pot regularly.
Pot directly on the ember/fire
When the fire has burned down, you can place the pot on the embers.
Tip: If the coal is not that hot anymore, dig a hole corresponding to the size of the pot and scratch the coals around the pot so that it is sunk in them.
Usually this should be enough to bring the water to boil slightly.
In any case, it is hot enough for tea!
If you place the pot directly on your fire, keep in mind that the wood moves when it burns up, and the pot strongly restricts the airflow – I´d not recommend it.
The lonely rock in the middle of the fire
Here, too, pictures will follow!
If you are unsure about the grate made of branches, no trunks can be found (after all, we don’t cut trees especially for cooking!) and the suitable stones are there, then try this technique.
The stone circle around the fire should be about three times the diameter of your pots.
If the embers are really hot, place a rock in the middle of the fireplace and you should be able to place a few pots between the middle and outer stones.
Then there is also this classic picture of cooking on a campfire:
A pot hung on a tripod hovers over the fire.
There are a few other wooden constructions that can be used to hang the pots.
Personally, however, I have little experience with it and have never seen any reason to buy the special equipment.
Of course you can also just loop a wire (you should have it with you, useful for a lot of things …) around your pot and create a hanging option.
I also find it a bit awkward … the pot often floats too high, the suspension can be unreliable, and I feel like it is best to place it directly on the fire and embers, maybe its just habitude 🙂
Just try it out!
With a little practice, it’s a lot of fun and can even ne really quick 🙂
Have you ever cooked on a campfire?
Maybe you have had done this a lot before and want to share your experience with it?
Or have any questions?
Write it in the guestbook!
Thanks for reading and best wishes from the forrest!
by Nicolai Graf