Items needed for outdoor cooking
Items needed for outdoor cooking
So, you’re planning on cooking some delicious meals over your campfire. You’ll need to have the right supplies on hand. Apart from food, of course, you’ll need some cooking equipment and supplies. You might be tempted to carry all kinds of goodies with you for cooking, but you really want to keep it simple. Keep in mind that fire will blacken your pots and pans, so don’t take your best set. Cast iron is best, but aluminum is much lighter and is better for long treks. Bring along a bag to put the pots into so you don’t smudge everything around it.
Meal Planning Before You Go
It’s essential that you plan out each and every meal and snack before heading out. Why? Because you need to know just how much food to take with you. You’ll also want to know what fresh items to have on hand. While meat and eggs can stay in a cooler for a bit, they won’t last forever, so you should plan to use these up early in your trip. Anything perishable will need to be cooked and eaten within the first few days, with fish, dairy, and meat lasting less than 24 hours, depending on your cooler. Look through the recipes at the end of this book and write out everything you want to make. Be sure to include some nice simple meals, too, like sandwiches. You won’t want to cook all three meals, so it’s a good idea to plan for a cold meal at least once per day, as well as easy to grab snacks. Life will be much simpler if you pack the ingredients you need in bags and write the recipe on the outside. For example, you might put all the ingredients for baked beans into one bag and mix up the ingredients necessary for bannock in another one. This makes it easy to find what you need in a flash.
Cooking Equipment: Just the Basics
There’s no need to pile your pack high with cooking equipment, when you only need a handful of items. Remember that if you’re hiking in to your camping spot, you really won’t want any extra weight. It’s better to use that weight for food or other equipment. So, what do you really need? Let’s take a look:
Cooking Pot: You should have one large pot that can be used to boil water, cook pasta or rice, and make stews. Store your other dishes inside this pot. The actual size will depend on how many people are in your camp. Cast iron is the sturdiest, but it’s also very heavy, so you may want to opt for aluminum.
Dutch Oven: This is not a necessity, but if you want to make some of the best recipes out there, you’ll definitely want one of these. Dutch ovens are best used when you are close to your vehicle, since they are heavy and hard to carry.
Frying Pan: One frying pan will work for a wide range of meals. Get a deeper one that will hold stews and you’ll have another option for cooking meals with liquid in them.
Pancake Flipper: You’ll use this for stirring and flipping. Get a metal one if you want it to last.
Cups/ Mugs: You can use aluminum or tin cups, or opt for plastic or melamine ones. Either way, you should have one for each person in camp. Go ahead and skip the bowls, the mugs will work just as well for soups and stews.
Plates: Look for plates with a rim on them so you won’t spill your food very easily. Melamine works very well for camping as it doesn’t heat up too quickly and doesn’t break easily. It’s also easy to wash.
Utensils: Forks, spoons and knives don’t have to be heavy if you choose tin ones or even plastic options. Don’t forget to bring a large spoon for dipping soup. Tongs are a useful utensil, as well.
Mixing Bowl: You’ll want a good mixing bowl for tossing your ingredients, washing things and making salads. Bring along two if you can. Plastic bowls are just fine and can even fit inside your pot.
Cutting Board: It’s useful to have a cutting board so you can slice vegetables or cut up your meat without worrying about germs on your cutting surface. Silicone sheets are perfect for this and can even roll up for easy storage.
Rack or Grate: It’s tough to balance a pot on coals, so you’ll want to bring along a simple grate. This could even be off your grill. Set it up on a few carefully placed rocks and your campfire instantly turns into a stove top or grill.
You might also want to include a Dutch oven and a pie iron. Though heavier items, they give you a whole new range of food options.
Food to Pack
What kind of food should you pack? Apart from the items in your meal plan, you’ll need a few basics. Even the blandest foods can taste amazing if you have the right condiments. Spices and herbs don’t weigh much at all if you’re taking dried with you, so load up! Here are a few things you’ll want to have on hand.
- – Salt
- – Sugar
- – Cinnamon
- – Oregano
- – Garlic Powder
- – Onion
- – Chili Powder
- – Curry Powder
- – Basil – Parsley
- – Soy Sauce
Add these ingredients (not all together, of course) to any dish that needs a little something and you can instantly spice things up. You might also want to bring your favourite hot sauce, mustard, etc. Handy Snacks It’s always a good idea to have snacks on hand. Even if you don’t end up eating them all, you won’t regret having something quick and easy to munch when you get hungry. If it ends up raining a lot, you may not be able to cook and it’s best to have something on hand. Anything that is relatively light, packs a punch in the energy department and requires no preparation is ideal for a camping snack. You don’t want anything that will require refrigeration either, of course. Trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars and energy bars are all excellent choices for your trip. You can take along fresh fruit, as well, for the first few days. Watermelons, apples and pears are all longer lasting and will do well in a cooler. Snacks should be something you enjoy eating and they should help you out with a nice energy boost. If you go out hiking and exploring, be sure to bring along something to eat in case your trip lasts a little longer than expected.
Ideally, your campsite will be near a water source, but unless it is a campground with safe water, you’ll need to treat the water before drinking it. This can be done by boiling the water at a rolling boil for one minute. If you are more than 2,000 feet above sea level, boil the water for at least three minutes. Alternatively, you can use purification drops, iodine or bleach, following the directions on the bottle. Some people prefer to bring
along a water filter to avoid odd tasting water. A filter can be as simple as a jug you fill and hang from a tree to run the water down to a basin or bottle, or it can be a water bottle with a filter that you suck the water through to clean it. Any river or lake water should be considered contaminated and will need to be boiled before using it, even for cleaning vegetables or fruit that you intend to eat raw. You can also bring along your own water, but water is very heavy and rarely worth the hassle of carrying it very far if there is a better water source. If you can drive to your campsite, then five gallon jugs of water can be brought along easily. Be sure to store your clean water in clean jugs or bottles. Don’t accidentally cross contaminate by pouring purified water into a jug that has just been used to scoop river water! Contaminated water can cause stomach upsets and headaches, which may lead to dehydration and even more serious issues. Always make sure your water is clean.
Since treating water or boiling it can affect the taste, you may want to bring along some drink powder packets to help it taste better. This is particularly useful for children who may refuse to drink. Since it’s easy to get dehydrated when you are outdoors all day, it’s essential that everyone in your party drink enough water to stay hydrated.
Campfire vs. Camp Stove
When it comes to cooking outdoors, you have a couple of options. Campfires are traditional and are often the first thing you’ll learn to cook over. However, there are plenty of choices in camp stoves these days, as well. You can learn to cook with either method, but which
one is best?
Campfires: Pros and Cons
Conjure up an image of going camping as a child and you probably recall the licking flames of a campfire. It’s a quintessential part of sleeping outdoors and most people have had at least one pleasant experience where they enjoyed roasting marshmallows or sausages over an open fire. You really don’t need to carry any special gear with you in order to set up a campfire. If you are in an area where there is dry wood, be it fallen branches or dead trees, you should have plenty of fuel. There’s no worry that you’ll forget to bring a canister, the fuel is everywhere around you. Campfires are enjoyable for a number of reasons. First, a fire creates a social center for your group to rally around. When you’re out camping, everyone sits around the fire. The flames are mesmerizing, whether you are on your own or with a group. In addition to being fun, campfires are also practical. They are very
useful when it comes to staying warm. If you plan things right, you can stay cozy by your fire all night long. The flames also push back the dark and keep wild animals away, if you happen to be staying in an area where there are plenty of critters checking out your camp. The smoke even banishes mosquitoes! Fires tend to be fairly easy to set up, but they do take time to get ready for cooking. You’ll need to light your fire, build it up and then let the coals settle in order to get the best cooking temperatures. If you are making something simple like bannock or sausages or anything that can be cooked on a stick, it is usually best to have a fire. Everyone can gather around and roast their food together, while enjoying chatting and hanging out together. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. Of course, if you want to really cook over an open fire, using pots and pans, it can be a little frustrating until you get the hang of it. Nothing beats a campfire for making s’mores, but if you’re aiming for pasta and sauce, it can be a little more complicated. Fires are not always permitted, either. You may be allowed to take a camp stove to a campsite during a fire ban, but an actual fire will not be allowed, since it can be dangerous. In fact, even when it is relatively wet out, campfires hold more of a possibility of burns because they are unpredictable. This is particularly true if you have children with you. Even a small campfire can burn out of control, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the proper procedures for building a fire.
Speaking of wet, rain will put a damper on your camping trip pretty quickly if you plan to cook over open flames. Wet weather tends to prevent fires from burning well and may put them out entirely. It will also soak your wood supply if you’re not careful. Many people have sentimental reasons for wanting a proper campfire, but they are also quite useful for anyone who enjoys “roughing it” while they are out in the forest.
Camp Stoves: Pros and Cons
While camp stoves are nothing new, they have drastically improved
in recent years and you can find a wide variety of styles to choose from. These vary in fuel types, sizes and how fast you can set them up. If you are taking care not to leave any trace of your presence, you’ll definitely want to look into taking a camp stove with you. They won’t leave ashes and soot around and can be used anywhere you go, even under the overhanding fly of your tent, if you’re careful. While a camp stove won’t warm you like a campfire will, this is actually preferable for summer months, when a fire may be too hot. Since you bring your own fuel with you, there is no need to go stumbling around in the forest to find dry wood, either. For those who have difficulty starting a fire with wood, a stove is a great alternative. Camp stoves can be bulky, however, and awkward to carry. While there are some very small options available, they can take a while to really cook your food, particularly if it is windy. You’ll want to make sure that the burner you have is large enough to heat the food fairly rapidly without wasting fuel.
Another issue with stoves is that they usually only have room for one pot. You can only cook one thing at a time unless you invest in an unwieldy two burner stove or bring along more than one. Either way, if you want to cook gourmet meals, space may be an issue. Camp stoves do give you more control over the temperature that you cook at, which is preferable for some people. It doesn’t’ take long to grasp the method of cooking when it is similar to what you do at home.