A huge part of the fun of camping comes with cooking and eating outdoors. The campfire can provide your facility for cooking or you can choose one of the many camping stoves or BBQs that are on the market.
Cooking on the Campfire
Heavy duty Camp Grills can be used over your campfire. Usually a steel construction with a mesh top and fold away legs which sits over the open flames and provides a grill top for your kettle, frying pans and cooking pots.
Designed to be compact and lightweight so as able to pack down into the pocket of a backpack. These stoves comprise of a small fuel cartridge beneath a single burner. Although small they can have a high heat output and are ideal for cooking small amounts and quick water boiling.
Single, Double or Triple Burner Stove
Whether you are camping in a couple, with a group of with the family there are different sizes and styles of multi burner stoves available. Single Burner stoves, larger than the backpacking style are ideal if you know your cooking load will be small. If you prefer the freedom of being able to cook with several pans at once or know you have a lot of people to cook for then a two or three burner stove would be a better choice.
The styles of camping stove can differ hugely between the different makes and models but there are a few general points to think about
- The gas cylinder may not be supplied, ensure you purchase a compatible model.
- Many stoves come with detachable legs; these can be very useful to keep the stove at a convenient level, especially if you don’t have a table.
- An attached wind guard can be beneficial, especially if cooking in bad weather conditions
Camp ovens are an age old method of cooking outdoors. They can be a great option if you want to prepare meals in advance and leave them to cook slowly in the coals. A camp oven, often known as a Dutch oven is a cast iron or sometimes aluminium pot with short legs to enable it to stand in the coals and have air circulating below; a tight fitting lid to prevent ash entering and a handle for allowing you to hang it above the fire.
A camp oven can be a versatile way of cooking as you can stew, boil, steam, bake, roast and fry food. They come in a selection of different sizes and styles and you can use several ovens at once stacked for cooking your whole meal.
Keeping food cold
It is difficult sometimes whilst camping to keep food cold, especially if you are in warmer temperatures. It is worth investing in a good quality cooler to keep all perishable foods well chilled. Keeping coolers in the shade will conserve the ice and block ice will last longer then cubed or crushed ice. Check ice regularly and keep food in watertight bags so that they are not damaged as ice melts. It is a good idea to keep a separate cooler for drinks so that the food one does not need to opened so regularly. Freezing drinks and food before leaving home can help to keep them cool for longer and pre prepared meals can save time as once defrosted you can heat and eat straight away.
Dry food storage
There are not the same precautions with dry foods as they are less likely to be affected by the heat or cold. It is however important to keep them securely stored away. Measuring out the amounts you are likely to need is a good idea as it saves space when packing and time when preparing meals. Sealable bags and plastic containers are useful and keeping all your food and cooking utensils in a large plastic box with a tight fitting lid is useful for keeping it off the floor and out of reach of any birds, animals and bugs.
Ensure food waste is out of reach of animals and pests also, clean all cooking utensils if leaving them in the open and keep your rubbish bags sealed and off the floor.
If you use water from a natural water source when camping, then it is advisable to purify it to kill any micro organisms which can lead to an upset stomach or further health problems.
There are several ways in which to purify water
- Boil water vigorously for 5-10 minutes
- Add 8 drops of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water or 16 drops if the water is cloudy and let stand for 30 minutes
- Using a 2% tincture of Iodine, add 20 drops per gallon of water, 40 drops if the water is cloudy and let stand for 30 minutes
- Use water purification tablets available at chemists and some outdoors shops; follow directions on the label
- Use a commercial water filter that removes bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and chemicals
After purifying the water, to improve the taste, aerate it by pouring it back and forth between two clean containers. Also, adding a pinch of salt may sweeten the taste. Store purified water in clean, sanitary containers.
Always dispose of your cooking and dish water considerately. If you are camping near a natural water source ensure you dump it 200 feet away and if using soap for washing, use biodegradable and ensure it does not pollute the water source.