Now You’re Cooking Without Gas: Campfire Cooking Basics

campfire photo

By now, you’re thinking to yourself that your log-cabin game is pretty strong. That as may be, we here at TruLog have another question for you: What do you really know about camp fires?

Specifically, camp fire cooking! We’re all about the outdoor-life here at TruLog, and nothing says outdoor living quite like a meal cooked over an open fire. Whether you have a fire-pit, a grill, or just a reservation at the local camp-ground, you should know the basics of camp fire cooking!

What do you really know about building a fire?

You may have lit a couple of fires in your time, but what do you really know about building a campfire? In this day and age–and especially considering you may just be doing it on your own property–making a fire safely and correctly can save you a whole bundle of trouble down the line.

First, make sure the area you’re using is clear of flammable debris and plant life. That means eight solid linear feet between you and the nearest burnable thing! This guideline extends vertically, too– not only should you double-check that there aren’t any over-hanging boughs above your campfire, but you should double-check that the surface you’re building the fire on is inorganic and inert. That means you should make a fire on either a rock, a pre-made fire pit, or at the very least on mineral-based dirt!

There’s a trick to campfire cooking!

The trick with campfire cooking, is that the fire should be made a little different than your average Boy Scout fire. You’re not looking for flames, you’re looking for coals. More than that, you’re looking for a wide bed of coals that burns for a good long while, and gives off an even amount of heat. Called ‘grading’ the coals, the goal is to burn kindling and small bits of wood into a nice bed. Choose small, dry, seasoned pieces of wood, all roughly the same size. Once they’re burnt down, break them apart into a nice, even bed to make sure everything gets cooked at the same rate.

If you’ve built your fire right, cooking food over a campfire is easy. Make sure to lay a grate across the rocks of your campfire– you can bring one, or make one out of green (that is, freshly cut and still living) branches. Just lay the food you brought across the top, making sure to check it often. If bits end up falling off and catching fire, use a spray-bottle to put out the flames (careful with this one, though– if it’s grease, you might just fan the flames!)

Make sure the coals are dead out

Once you’re done with cooking, that bed of coals is primed for a fresh batch of wood and a great campfire. Remember to use dry, seasoned wood (hardwood, for preference) in order to keep smoke and sparks to a minimum. And, as always, make sure to douse your fire completely once you’re ready for bed! As Smokey the Bear says, “Drown it, Stir it, Feel it” to make sure it’s completely out.

And just like that, you’re cooking with coals! Get ready for a whole bunch of delicious food– there’s no taste quite like food cooked over a campfire. If you’re stuck for ideas on what to cook, then keep an eye on the TruLog Blog for our upcoming series on outdoor cooking! We’re cooking up some great things (pun intended) so stay tuned!

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