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australia:camp_ovens

wood fired camp ovens - Dutch ovens, etc

Introduction

  • cooking on camp fire coals is a long standing art form in many countries including Australia
  • the traditional camp oven bread baked in Australia is damper however there is an art to ensure it is well cooked without burning the outside
  • some foods can be cooked on coals by just wrapping in aluminium foil such as potatoes, bananas, corn, etc
  • cooking on coals +/- coals placed on top of the lid:
    • Spun-steel ovens gain and lose heat quickly and are best for desserts and breads
    • Cast iron camp ovens hold heat for a long time and are great for cooking stews and soups and these can be used to sauté, simmer, braise, sear, fry, and bake as they can also be suspended over a campfire using a tripod or placed on a campfire cooking grate over a fire, and it may be possible to use them on top of a wood stove
    • the best coals are from hardwoods (softwoods such as pine burn out to quickly), or charcoal briquettes
    • if one wishes to create embers without a large fire, one can use a foldable chimney to light the briquettes
  • an alternative is to use a specialised camp oven:
    • flat fold ovens which sit on top of a wood stove, or,
    • as part of a wood stove chimney such as the Winnerwell pipe oven which provides a more even heating, or,
    • ovens incorporated into a wood stove (these are usually designed for pizzas)
  • finally one can buy dedicated wood fired pizza ovens but these tend to be heavy and bulky - see cooking pizzas and camping

cast iron camping Dutch ovens

  • have a relatively flat lid with raised edges to prevent charcoal falling off
  • have a handle
  • usually have small legs to raise it off the ground
  • various sizes:
    • shallow “bread” ovens - these are the most versatile
      • 8“ is 2L capacity and good for 2-3 people
      • 10” is 4L capacity and good for 2-6 people
        • as a guide, for 180deg C used as an oven, with wind protection, use 21 briquettes with 14 on the lid and 7 under the oven and for cook times longer than 30 minutes, you will need to add fresh coals midway through the cooking process to maintain a consistent temperature. Rotate the lid and body of the Dutch oven about every 15 minutes.
      • can also get 12“ and 14”
    • deep “soup/stew” ovens
  • they do need to be “seasoned” before use and re-seasoned if in bad shape
    • cast iron cookware surfaces are made up of microscopic imperfections
    • when oils are heated on its surface, they bond to the imperfections and create a smooth plastic-like polymer “non-stick” surface
    • use a stiff brush (if new) or steel wool (if old) with some dish washing soap and scrub down the entire oven, and remove any rust spots down to bare metal
    • rinse and dry
    • once dry and cool, rub in a small drop of organic flaxseed oil or grapeseed oil (must be polyunsaturated oil) and coat the entire oven and wipe of any excess so it looks nearly dry
    • place it upside down in the middle of your house oven at 230degC (put aluminium foil on bottom rack to catch any drips) and bake for 1 hour
    • turn oven off and let cool with oven door CLOSED
    • once cool, remove and repeat the above oil application and oven steps another two times
  • usage
    • as they take a while to heat up, generally good isea to pre-heat it
    • if baking use metal skewers to slightly raise the lid to allow steam to escape and the food to brown, alternatively, intermittently lift the lid as you rotate it
    • use parchment paper with straps to prevent food sticking to the sides
    • when cooking over a fire, raise the height to adjust temperature
  • cleaning to reduce losing the seasoning:
    • avoid scourers and harsh detergents (but metal utensils are fine as long as you avoid gouging)
    • avoid storing when wet
    • avoid cooking highly acidic foods (eg. tomato sauce, white wines) for a long time
    • clean with a plastic pan scraper before it has totally cooled down with a little bit of warm water and if necessary a small anount of soap
    • place it over the heat again to ensure it’s completely dry (even a small amount of water will lead to rust) then add a drop of grapeseed oil and rub the interior down with a paper towel until it is evenly coated
    • store in a dry place
australia/camp_ovens.txt · Last modified: 2022/10/03 10:05 by gary1

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