Campfire cooking never fails to get you in the outdoorsy frame of mind. Sure, it’s great setting searching for a suitable clearing to base camp and setting up the tent, but there’s just something about lighting a big fire and rustling up some camping food over it.
Campfire cooking is an art that can take your camping food experience from merely sustenance to a a really enjoyable dining experience with the right camping recipes. Because it is an art, it requires practice and good knowledge of the best practices in order to do it correctly. Whether you’re using a campfire grill, dutch oven or simply some skewers over an open flame, we’ve got some amazing campfire cooking tips that will help to ensure that your perfectly prepared for all eventualities.
Fire It Up
When campfire cooking, it’s extremely important that your campfire is managed well from the start. It needs to be safe, controlled and potent enough to cook any of your suitable camping food items through.
First begin by introducing safety measures in relation to yourself, your campsite and your belongings. The size of your campfire will determine, firstly, where your campfire is positioned. Ideally you need to establish a good distance perimeter between your campfire and your camping belongings, particularly if it’s a larger open flame. We suggest to keep the fire at least 8 feet away from all your things in an area that is clear of dirt and debris that can potentially catch fire and spread.
Build your campfire up – don’t just throw on a bunch of big logs and light up. Start with the smaller logs and angle them correctly so as not to smother the fire. As it begins to really ignite, carefully add more larger logs till you’ve achieved a manageable height. Moreover, big fires tend to burn more quickly than smaller ones, leaving extremely hot coals and no direct flame. This could mean that your fire will distinguish earlier than you may have desired.
Campfire Cooking Method and Equipment
Now that you have your campfire setup, what campfire cooking equipment will you be using to cook your food safely? Will you be using pots and pans? If so, how will you place them over the fire? If not, then how will you cook your camping food over an open flame? These are all questions that you will need to address when campfire cooking. There are several cooking methods to use – from campfire grill and rotisserie, to sticks, skewers and tinfoil cooking.
We’d recommend a Dutch oven however as it offers the most flexibility and the better all-around cooking as the entire pot heats up if you place some hot coals/wood over the lid. However, a dutch oven isn’t a naked flame option and, of course, it’s inclusion is subject to the amount of space you have to pack it amongst your other equipment. If space is tight, then a campfire grill and tripod unit is a lighter, more compact alternative that acts as a makeshift BBQ grill. This method allows you to cook whilst keeping your food and yourself an adequate distance from the lofty flames.
Cooking utensils, much like the cookware you’re using to whip up your food, must not have any burnable material in their structure and must be fire retardant. This means that equipment that utilises plastic or rubber could potentially lead to problems. And, in many cases, it’s smart to wear heavy-duty leather gloves and close-toed shoes that will keep your appendages protected when in close proximity to the flame.
Preparing your Camping Food
Knowing what camping recipes work in campfire cooking is not just about omitting what might be laborious to prepare; it’s also about making sure that you’re as practical with your food choices as possible. This means that any campfire cooking has to think about hygiene and, again, safety.
Be careful when taking along foods that need to be preserved in cold temperatures such as poultry and other raw meats. If the food is not kept to a very low temperature (no higher than 40 degrees), then the meat runs the risk of spoiling and producing dangerous pathogens and bacteria. To preserve the meat, keep the food packed in ice right up to the time of cooking. Never leave camping food out in the open for more one or two hours.
If you have products that are prone to drippy fat deposits, try to avoid cooking them as they can potentially lead to dangerous fire flares.
Keep It Clean
One your campfire cooking is all done and completed you need to make sure that you clean up both your utensils and the wider campsite. Leftover or uncleaned food is a both a breeding ground for germs and an attractive quarry for the wildlife around. Make sure that pots, pans and cutlery are completely washed and all leftover food is locked up in sealable bags and latched containers. If possible, place a heavy object on top of your container to dissuade some of the larger animals.
As for securing the fire: you should always have water and sand to hand to ensure that the fire is completely extinguished before going to bed. Continue to stir the ashes and pouring water on the dying embers repeatedly till they are entirely wet and cold. Take no chances here as the smallest bit of ember can reignite and a hazardous chain reaction.