If you were stranded without a pot or pan do you know more than one way to cook your food? If not, it is time to expand your skill set.
- Cooking on a spit: When you imagine primitive cooking, this is probably the first image that comes to mind. It’s pretty simple – skewer a whole animal or chunks of meat or veggies on a stick, build a frame of some kind that supports the stick, and rotate the spit once in a while for more even cooking.
- Flat rock griddle: Find a large, reasonably flat stone or rock. Or if you’re in a more urban environment, most types of metal sheet or ceramic tile will work here as well. Rinse off the stone/rock, then let it dry a bit in the sun or near the fire you’re about to build.
Start a fire. Let the fire burn down a bit so that you’re mostly left with glowing hot coals (coals provide more even heat that is easier to control).
Put your flat stone/rock into the coals. Let it heat up a little. That’s it. You effectively have a griddle that you can cook on. This will work with meat or vegetables – cooking on it functionally isn’t all that different from cooking on a big pan. Just be careful that your food doesn’t fall off the flat surface and into the fire.
- Ash cooking: This is pretty similar to what we call tin-foil cooking. The difference is that you’ll use leaves instead of aluminum foil. It is a commonly used method for cooking fish.
First, you need to make a fire slowly let it die while flattening the surface with coals of a fire. The coals should be hot but no longer burning (with flames).
While the coals are getting hot, find some very large leaves ((banana, grape or burdock do really well) that you can use to cook the food in. Remember that the leaves need to be large enough so that they can be wrapped around the food, but they also have to be non-poisonous so that you don’t ingest toxins.
Once the food is wrapped and the coals are hot, place the food onto the coals. Using a stick, move some of the hot coals over top of the food so that it can cook on both sides.
- Rock Boiling: This is a great method if you’re trying to heat some water, or you’re trying to reheat or make some kind of soup or camp stew. Basically, the rock boiling technique works if you’re trying to heat liquids, whether that’s just water or some kind of liquid food.
- Do not use wet rocks! Putting wet rocks directly into a fire can cause them to explode, which is dangerous for everyone.
Start a fire. Find a bunch of rocks or stones that will fit comfortably into whatever vessel you’re using to hold the liquid. Wipe the stones down so they’re clean and free of dirt and debris. Stack them in the fire, trying to position as many of them as possible in a way where ash won’t get on them. Once the rocks are emanating heat, place one into the liquid you want to heat up or cook. That will heat up your liquid, potentially to a boil. Once that starts to fizzle out, remove that rock and put in a new rock to keep the boil going.
This is also a great way to heat up water as a way of making it safer to drink, particularly if you don’t have a vessel that can be placed directly on the fire.
- Pit Cooking: An earth oven, ground oven or cooking pit is one of the simplest and most ancient cooking structures. At its most basic, an earth oven is a pit in the ground used to trap heat and bake, smoke, or steam food.
The size of the pit really depends on the size of the meal you are intending to cook in it. It needs to be large enough to accommodate your food plus rocks and vegetation.
Once the pit has been dug, line the bottom of it with charcoal. Light the coal, again just like you did when ash cooking, and wait for it to get very hot and then die down. Then, place your food wrapped in green leaves over top of the coals. You can add an additional layer of green leaves for more steam if you desire and then cover it with the earth you dug up. Allow it to sit for at least a couple of hours (even small food will take a while to cook this way), and then dig up your dinner. This is a popular method of cooking in Polynesian cultures.
Adding these skills to your arsenal may come in handy someday, or they can just add to the fun of your next camping trip. Bon Appetite!.
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