If you're planning a trip to the great outdoors, there are a few things you need to know about open fire cooking. Preparing your meals over an open fire can seem like a daunting task, especially when compared to the convenience and familiarity of a camping stove, but you'll quickly find that the method will give your camping meals a unique charm. Plan meals before you go so that you'll have everything you need, as you won't have access if you forget something.
To get the fire burning, you'll need dry, seasoned wood to create a hot enough fire for cooking. Certain woods, such as wood from fruit trees or hardwood trees work best. Bring your own wood to the campsite if the campsite doesn't offer firewood for sale. You'll also need a few pieces of kindling and newspaper to start the fire, along with a lighter.
You'll also need a few pans or utensils for cooking. Of course, these depend on the type of foods you plan to make. Cast iron can easily stand the heat, so consider a cast iron fry pan and Dutch oven. With just these two pieces, you'll be able to make most any food. Aluminum foil is also handy to have around, especially if you want to "bake" foods. Skewers (either metal or wood) can help you to cook certain foods.
It's smart to bring along a metal grill that you can lay on top of the fire. This allows you to either grill meats and vegetables or have a sturdy place to put your pans.
If possible, you should set up your campfire in an already-established location. Most campsites have a campfire area at each site. This might not be an option if you're truly roughing it. In that case, you'll want to create a contained space with large rocks and lay smaller rocks in the middle to put the fire on top. Once you get the fire going, you can lay the grill down. The grill should not be immersed in the flames, but rather sit on top for best results.
If you're using a fry pan or pan, your cooking methods are much the same as if you were using your own stove. Simply add the ingredients to your pan and allow to cook, checking frequently for doneness, as cooking over an open flame may decrease your cooking time.
To grill items, you would place them on the grill over the open fire as you would when using your grill. Alternatively, you can use long skewers and have everyone hold their own food over the fire, which allows everyone to participate.
Another effective way to cook items is to wrap them in aluminum foil and set them into the coals. This will bake or roast the items.
As food drips into the fire, flames can leap up, especially if you are cooking with any type of fat. It's smart to have a small spray bottle to quickly put these small fires out. A fire extinguisher is an extra safety precaution, but if you do need to use it, you can potentially ruin your meal.
Before leaving your campsite, take care that the fire is fully out. If there wasn't a layer of rocks on the bottom, the fire may have gone deep into the ground.