Nearly everything in a real survival situation is awful. The constant stress, the bitter isolation, the lumpy bedding, and even the food (if you have any) can all be aggravating during the worst days of your life. But it doesn’t have to be all bad. Hunger truly is the best “seasoning”, and with the tasty results of following campfire cooking methods, you might just forget about your troubles for a few moments. Here are five easy ways to cook a campfire feast, even when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
This one couldn’t be simpler. Insert the sharpen end of a long pointy stick into your food item. Prop up the stick near your fire (or simply hold it, as if roasting marshmallows). Rotate every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Enjoy and repeat. It’s been argued that this is one of the oldest cooking methods. While we may never be able to verify that, I know that it’s a delicious method.
2. Bake in a can
I’ll never forget my first critter baked in a tin can. One of my best friends, Hueston, brought a plucked squab and a large tin can into my camp. He drove a short stake into the ground right next to the fire and set the squab over the stake, so that the wood went up the bird’s body cavity and it stood there at attention.
Hueston then placed the can over the little standing bird, and buried the can in coals from the fire. This was essentially a poor man’s Dutch oven. Hueston replaced the coals as they burned down, and after an hour and a half, the meat was roasted and falling off the bone. The meal was excellent and the technique is easy.
You can use tin cans inverted or on their side to bake all kinds of food. If you suspect (or clearly see) that your can has a plastic film on the inside, burn the can in the fire for a few minutes to burn off that plastic before cooking with it the first time.
3. Boil in a can
For soups and teas, you can use that same tin can for baking. Fill the can with water from the creek and set it in the ashes on the edge of the fire to boil. This is much more stable than setting the can over the fire on an improvised rack, but it’s a slower way to heat the water. For quicker results, pierce the lip of the can on opposing sides and twist a piece of wire in place to serve as a bail (handle). This can be hung from green sticks suspended over the fire, and the water can boil in less than three minutes. A hot cup of wild tea or a thin soup may not seem like much, but they can hydrate you, warm the body, and boost morale.
4. Fry in foil
If you’ve got a little bit of aluminum foil, some food, and a some kind of edible oil, then you’re in business. Place your food and oil in the middle of the foil, fold it into an envelope, and set it on a dying bed of coals to fry your food. Obviously, a frying pan does a better job, but you may not pack one of those with you and you shouldn’t expect to find one in the wild. Foil however, is a part of many survival kits, both commercially available and home-made. Just be careful not to rip the foil once it’s in the coals, or else the oil will leak and your food will burn.
5. Steam in a bag
There are a lot of uses for the high-temperature plastic bags that are designed for roasting turkeys in your home oven. These can do anything that a plastic bag can do, but they’ll also handle some heat. You could line a hole or basket with one of these bags, fill it with water, and drop hot stones in the bag to boil water. This can disinfect the water, but you could also use it for cooking. Place a basket of food over the wet, hot rocks and close the bag up to create an effective steamer. For food safety, stick to steaming veggies and quick-cooking meats like fish.
Do you have an easy way to cook over the campfire? Please tell us your favorite method by leaving a comment.