Tips for Building a Campfire and Cooking Campfire Meals
How To Build A Campfire
For campfire cooking to be at its best, a good supply of coals is essential. Here's how to create them...
1. In the tradition of a good boy-scout, place twigs, small dead branches, or slivers of wood (kindling) in a tee-pee fashion over a few screwed-up pieces of newspaper.
2. Light fire.
3. As the kindling 'takes', place increasingly larger branches/logs on the fire. Place as many as possible on the fire, without 'smothering' it or restricting oxygen flow.
After half an hour or so of fierce burning, you will not only have a great campfire to enjoy, but a good supply of coals for your campfire cooking.
- Only use seasoned, dry wood. Anything damp or green will result in a smoky, poorly burning fire.
- The collecting of firewood is not allowed at many campgrounds, or if it is allowed, wood may be in short supply due to previous campers. If this is likely at your chosen destination, plan ahead and take your own. (Perhaps collecting some en route).
- Plan your fire location carefully:
- Well away from flammable materials - tents, bushes etc.
- Be aware of wind direction and where the smoke will blow!
- Re-use an established fireplace if possible.
Campfire Cooking Equipment
Camp Oven (Dutch Oven)
A camp oven is a metal pot with a heavy lid used for baking over an open fire.
It is made from cast iron or heavy guage spun carbon steel, and is therefore quite heavy. Although we call them camp ovens in Australia, they are more commonly known as Dutch Ovens elsewhere in the world.
TIP: If buying a camp oven, the oven lid should have a raised lip. This prevents ash from falling into the pot. (Cooking in a camp oven often entails placing a shovelful of coals on the lid to ensure an even heat all round).
Also a metal pot used for baking over an open fire. Looks like a camp oven, but is much lighter as it is made from spun steel.
We choose to use a Bedourie because:
- It is much lighter to carry around the country than a camp oven.
- It doesn't retain heat for as long as a camp oven. Therefore it can be packed away soon after use. (Ideal if being used at breakfast time before packing up camp.
- Cast iron camp ovens can break if dropped. The Bedourie won't break.
- Anything that you cook in a camp oven can be cooked in the Bedourie.
- The lid fits down over the oven so there is no chance of ashes accidently making their way into your dinner!
- The lid doubles as a frying pan when you turn it over.
- The main disadvantage of the Bedourie is that you can't just "set and forget". Food can burn more readily then in a camp oven, so requires more checking and stirring. This downside can be overcome to some extent by using a 'trivet' with more delicate foods like breads and cakes.
- A trivet is a mesh disc that you place in the bottom of the camp oven / Bedourie to stop food from burning and sticking to the base.
- It gives you better convection airflow for efficient cooking.
- Allows fat to run off, giving you healthier food.
Cooking in a Bedourie
Dig a hole about half as deep as the bedourie and wider by about 10cm.
Place a generous bed of coals in hole and allow it to burn for 5-10 minutes to heat the surrounding ground.
At this point, remove some coals if there is too much heat, or replenish with fresh ones, if needed. (Experience will guide you here).
Place Bedourie in hole.
Spread a small amount of coals in hole around Bedourie and a small shovelful on the lid.
To check meal, use handle to remove Bedourie. Using welding gloves or similar, scrape coals from lid and remove lid.
Re-instate Bedourie by using method above, replenishing coals as necessary.
Cooking in a Camp Oven (Dutch Oven)
Due to its heavy base, the method of cooking in a camp oven can be much more flexible.
Your choices are:
A. Suspend the oven over the coals using a campfire cooking tripod; OR
B. Place the camp oven directly onto the coals (no need to bury); OR
C. Use the Bedourie method described above.
Are you looking for some delicious and easy campfire recipes?
Go to Camping Recipes from Campfire Cooking.
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