Cooking outdoors is the pits. But that’s a good thing!



cooking outdoors

Picture this scenario: after a long hike in the woods, you and your fellow hikers settle down to make camp for the night only to discover that you have no cooking equipment! Sure you have plenty of food, but no pots or pans! Luckily there’s a solution, and while it takes a bit of work, you’ll soon be enjoying a hearty feast cooked with nothing but your wits. Let’s take a good look at this marvel of wilderness cooking: the pit oven!

  1. Start Diggin’
    1. No rocket science here! Using a spade, a sharp rock, or even your bare hands in a pinch, dig a hole 2 feet long X 1 foot wide X 1 foot deep. Exact measurements aren’t really necessary, but it helps keep things organized.
  2. Get Ready to Rock!
    1. Next gather a collection of rocks and line the bottom of the hole. Smooth, heavy stones with no pitting or cracks are best, as these are less likely to split or pop from the heat. If you can find any flat stones nearby, it’s a good idea to line the hole with them so as to absorb and reflect the heat in the next stage.
  3. Fire it Up!
    1. Build a campfire over top of the rock-filled hole using plenty of kindling and larger pieces. The fire doesn’t have to be very sustainable, but avoid using too much brush or other materials that create a great deal of ash without generating much heat. So long as the fire can burn for two hours or so at high heat, you’re in the clear. Alternatively you can heat the rocks separately in the fire before placing them in the hole, but it can be hard to move them from the coals to the pit when hot.
  4. Dress in Layers
    1. Depending on what you’re cooking the preparation may be different, but it’s important to cover your food in protective layers to keep ash and other debris from contaminating it during the cooking process. Large wet leaves work best, but if you’re less about authenticity/survival and more about novelty, aluminum foil is a good substitute.
  5. Ashes to Ashes
    1. Once the fire burns itself out, scrape the ashes away from the rocks as best as possible until the rocks themselves are cleanly exposed. Cover the rocks with an inch of damp earth, then add handfuls of wet leaves, green pine boughs or other vegetation to add another inches of moisture-filled materials to the pit.
  6. Bury the Treasure
    1. Put your wrapped food in the pit and…bury it! Yep, you heard right: bury the food with dirt and level it off, clearly marking it for later. The heat from the rocks radiates up from the stones while the dirt and leaves insulate and cook the food. For fish, about an hour and a half is a good cooking time. Steak, pork, or fowl is usually 2 and a half hours as it is typically thicker and takes longer to cook through.
  7. Unearth your bounty
    1. After the allotted time as passed, gently dig up your food and enjoy! The dirt and surrounding materials will still be hot, as will the stones, so use caution. Don’t dig too eagerly and pierce the wrappings or you could risk getting dirt on your meal.
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