When you think of camping, what immediately comes to mind? It is cozy night wrapped snug in your sleeping bag under the stars, or is it a crackling fire, or perhaps a fired-up grill and delectable food cooking?
Chances are, the latter is what gets people excited about spending time in the outdoors. The campfire is central to the camping experience – it is where we gather round in the evenings, and where we cook a lot of our food.
You may think you have the campfire cooking down. But there is more than meets the eye to this ancient of cooking methods. Read on for some tips to get you cooking confidently over wild flames.
Know Your Destination’s Campfire Setup
The key to great campfire cooking is knowing beforehand what you’ll be dealing with. Find out ahead of time if your destination is in a high fire danger area – if so, campfires may not be allowed for a while. Some places may only have BBQ grills and/or fire rings. If it’s a fire ring, make sure your campground provides an over-fire grill. Bring a portable grill if you’re unsure.
Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Pick out simple but delicious meals to cook over a campfire. There are lots of inspirational recipes out there on the interweb that are perfect for camping. Try to bring as much as you can for your entire trip, but for longer stays, bring only 2-3 days’ worth of food, then stock up at your nearest market at your destination. Planning your meals also helps with budgeting and saving money over the course of your camping trip.
Bring Only What You Need
Expanding on the point above, go minimalistic and only bring what you need. This includes what utensils will be needed for food prep. Research and bring recipes that require some of the same ingredients so you don’t have to do a ton of shopping. Bring only 2-3 pots and pans for cooking. In this way, you’ll save on the space you need to store all of your cooking equipment and ingredients.
Pack the Right Gear for Cooking Over Hot Flames
Preparing meals over super hot flames requires certain equipment. Have a bucket of water to douse flames quickly, if necessary. Use heat-resistant gloves when handling pots and pans over a fire. A nice big set of tongs is also good for reaching into coals and embers and for turning food over when grilling.
Take Advantage of Several Cooking Methods
Cooking over an open flame is not just about grilling. You can Bake, sauté, and sear food, all in a single campfire if you have the right equipment. Use good old aluminum foil to create packets for baking things like cornbread or heating potatoes.
Get the whole gang involved by using roasting sticks. We like the metal version instead of wood to avoid burning. With these, you can toast more than marshmallows for s’mores; you can cook hot dogs, sausages, and corn on the cob this way. Or the classic shish kabob with chunks of your favorite meat, veggies, and even fruit cooked directly over the flame.
Using a grill, you can use pots, pans, and skillets to make all manner of tasty meals. You can also make stew, boil eggs, and make coffee.
You can cook just about everything over a fire. The key is to control the intensity of the flame, and the amount of time you leave the food over the flame. With a little practice, you’ll be an expert at making anything on a campfire.