There’s nothing quite like cooking over the blazing flames of a campfire. Whether you’ve roasted marshmallows or charred hot dogs, they seem to taste a bit better when you fire them this way.
This food-preparation method appears to be pretty intuitive — you light a fire, then cook over it. But it’s not always that simple, especially if you plan to prep something more involved than a s’more. So, keep these five tips in mind before your next camping trip to ensure your campfire cooking pursuits are successful.
1. Wait Until the Fire is Perfect
As soon as you see orange, you might think it’s time to start cooking. However, the right fire for cooking requires some patience. In general, you want a base of smoldering coals with just a few logs on top to keep the flames burning. If your fire just started, you might have to wait anywhere from a half-hour to 45 minutes for it to calm down to cooking temperatures.
2. Don’t Rely on an Open Flame
That vision of roasting a marshmallow by plunging it directly into the pyre is a cooking method that works for that type of food only. The rest of your campfire-ready eats will require more careful preparation, or they’ll quickly burn and char. In many cases, you can place a camping grill over the flames, a perfect resting spot for burgers and hot dogs so they don’t touch the fire directly. The same goes for pots and pans in which you’ll heat up or cook meals. You can also set aside some hot coals over which to roast veggies or other roast-ready foods.
3. Planning Is Key
Even if you’re camping in the woods and therefore have trees and logs surrounding you, you might not be able to use any of them in your campfire. SSome campgrounds prohibit you from using the resources around you as kindling. So, be prepared and bring along high-quality firewood. Not only will this ensure you’ll have the resources to start a fire, but it’ll also make life so much simpler for you — these logs will easily and safely light up and burn for a long time. You’ll have plenty of time to cook your meals and stay warm around your campfire.
4. Build It Slowly and Steadily
Some fire-starters will dump all their logs into the pit at once and light them up. But this won’t start a sustainable campfire — it either won’t light, or it’ll burn out all of your resources rather quickly. So, pace yourself and build your fire correctly by using only a few logs with plenty of kindling beneath them. This method gives you a nice, hot base for your fire, and you can continue adding logs on top as you go to keep it burning. Plus, the temperature will remain steadier, making cooking simpler, too.
5. Add In Rest Time
Finally, you need to remember the foods you prepare over an open flame will cook at a higher temperature for longer. In other words, when you pull your foodstuffs out of the flames, they will continue cooking because they have taken in so much heat. So, take everything out just before you normally would if you were cooking with traditional appliances. Then, let your food rest and finish cooking. Finally, you can serve breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Campfire cooking is certainly an acquired skill, but these five tips will make it easier for you to become a skilled outdoor chef. And, with that, you’ll be eating well whether you’re at home or in the middle of nowhere with only a small fire to help you.