backpacking

Cooking leads to one of the great part of camping, eating.
You can make food to keep you from getting hungry, or you can make
food to really satisfy you. Which one do you want to do?

Types of Cooking
There are many types of camp cooking. The most popular are to cook using the the big camp stoves, cooking using a grill over a wood or charcoal fire, cooking using Dutch Ovens, or cook using a lightweight backpacking stove. Which one is right for your? Well, it depends upon what you are doing and how fancy you want to be. Here are some tips on when to use each.

That great big stove sure is a pain to lug around. But it sure does have it uses. The big advantages to those gas stoves are that they can produce a lot heat and it is easy to control the heat. So cooking pasta, making soup, sauces, and other items that need to have a consistent heat are ideal for the gas stove. Items that need to cook slowly typically are poor choices for the gas stove (stew for example, cake as an extreme example)

Cooking over an open flame is what most people think of when they think of camp cooking. Burgers, steaks, BBQ chicken, all great ideas for the open fire. What you need is a grill that can get the food close to your heat source (wood or charcoal) and lot's of patience. Things to look out for when cooking with an open flame (either wood or charcoal)

  • Make sure the fire is providing a consistent heat (spread out the hot coals)
  • Make sure that you move the food around as needed to ensure even cooking
  • The fire will be uneven in terms of how hot it is so move the food around try to cook all the at the same rate.
  • Make sure you have sufficient coals to complete the meal For dishes/meals
that take a long time to cook, you will need to keep the fire going. This may mean having to keep a set of charcoals going on the side, or continuing to feed the fire while cooking
  • Regulate the heat applied to your food. Burning you food is a real concern with open flame cooking. Move the food around as necessary to get the right temperature Too hot and it burns before cooking. Too cold and it never finishes cooking.
Dutch oven cooking is the "gourmet" of camp cooking. The sky is the limit with dutch oven cooking. If you can dream it up, you can cook it in a dutch oven. Stews, Pot Pies, Ribs, Soups, Cakes, you name it, if it can be made in a pot or the oven,you can make it in a dutch oven. Here are the most basic rules:
  • To get a temperature of 350F inside the Dutch oven, you need 2x as many briguettes as the diameter of your oven (in inches). So if you have a 12" oven, you need 24 briquettes.
  • To make the dutch oven act like your oven at home, plase twice as many briquettes on top as on bottom. For a 12" oven, to get 350F you need 8 birquettes on the bottom and 16 on top.
  • For each 10F over 350F you need, as 1 briquette.
  • As the birquettes burn down, you will need to replace them with fresh ones.
  • Turn the oven about every 10 minutes to help make the heating event. Turn the top as well.

Lightweight stoves are great for the backpackers in us. They are lightweight and small, but critical for the backpacker. They come as either "white gas" (also called "Coleman camp fuel") or propane. The stoves are best used for heating water or small amounts of liquid food (example soup). What can you do with hot water? Well, for a backpacker, that means they can re-hydrate those wonderful dehydrated dinners that are found in outdoors stores, such as Campmor and Ramsey's.

White Gas Stoves: Advantages: very compact, fuel is relatively cheap and it works at low temperatures.
                            Disadvantages: Relatively difficult to light
Propane Stove: Advantages: compact, easy to light (they normally have a built in sparker), heats up quickly
                       Disadvantages: relatively high cost of fuel, heavier fuel canisters, does not work at low temperatures (well below freezing)

This section is devoted to providing links to sites with recipes and cooking ideas for camp cooking. Consider this only a starting point. Experimentation is sometimes the best part of cooking.
 Dutch Oven Cooking 101- Recipes and More
 Byron's Dutch Oven Cooking Recipes
 Dutch Oven Recipes
 Yet more Dutch Oven Recipes and Ideas
 Scouter Cooking Tips and Recipes
 Mike's Camp Cooking/Recipes
This is always a tricky area. The following link hopes to provide some hints about the amount of food to bring on a camping trip.
 
Breakfast
  • 2 eggs/person
  • 2 strips of bacon/sausages/person
  • 3-4 pancakes/person
  • 1/2 gal OJ per 10 people
  • 2-3 pieces of French Toast/person
  • 1 bagel and 1 individual cereal/person
Lunch
  • 2 sandwiches/person (teenage and above, 1-2 for pre-teen)
  • 1 Can soup for teenagers, 2/3 can soupt for pre-teens
  • Sandwiches: 1/8 lb/meat/sandwich, 1/10 lb cheese/sandwich
Dinner
  • 1/2 Chicken Breast/person
  • 1/4 pound beef/person 1/2 pound if making hamburgers or steaks
  • 1 large potao per teenager, one medium per pre-teen
  • 1/3 cup rice per teenager, 1/4 cup for pre-teen
  • 2-3 oz cheese per person