Camping is closely associated with fires, and these fires are used for both heating and cooking food. There are many advantages of cook fire camping with a wood fire compared to other cooking methods like using charcoal or liquid fuel. One of the most popular reason is that the food will have a better flavor compared to other methods, due to smoke induced flavor. This is a natural cooking method and no chemicals are used for cooking. The heat produced is also more intense, and the food is cooked better. However, this method requires some amount of skill and effort for getting the best results and also proper planning.
It is important to have proper supplies for cooking on a fire while camping. Tinder including wood for the fire is essential requirement. Small twigs and branches can be used for tinder while making the fire. It is recommended that this tinder should be collected from the area around the campsite. The small branches should be dry, else they will not be fuel for making a fire. It is not advisable to break the twigs, branches from the shrubs and trees, because these twigs will contain moisture, and will not be a good fuel, for the fire. Firewood can also be purchased for the fire, though it may be more expensive if purchased at the campsite.
Utensils and accessories required for cooking using a fire should also be carried to the camping site. The basic utensils include a pot and pan, and the number of utensils required will depend on the number of people who are going for the camping trip and duration of the camping trip. Fewer utensils will be required for camping trips of a few days, while more utensils will have to be taken for camping trips of a week or more. Aluminum foil should be carried to wrap the food. It is also important to carry a spatula, spoon for stirring the food, and a tong for holding the utensils, which will become hot when heated.
Some of the campsites already have a fireplace, while in other campsites, the campers will have to build a place for making their fire. If they have to make their fireplace, a hole in the ground which is eight to ten inches deep should be dug, for placing the wood and fuel. Matchsticks can be used to light the fire, though the flint and other lighting methods may be used depending on the availability and convenience. In case of snowfall or rainfall, the matches should be wax coated, or alternate lighting methods are recommended. A grate for covering the wooden fire should be used. A thermometer is useful for checking the temperature of the fire.
The duration of cooking on a fire depends to a very large extent on the type of food being cooked. In some cases, the campers have made precooked meals at home, and only light heating is required. The meals can be wrapped in aluminum foil and heated on the fire for a short period of time. In other cases, easy to cook dishes like pasta, noodles may be cooked using the camp fire. However, for many people on camping trips, the meals they eat are meat based, and consist of chicken, fish or other game which has been caught during the camping trip. Equipment for grilling fish and meat using wooden fire is available. The fish and meat are grilled on the camp fire for some time, till they are cooked uniformly. It is important to move the chicken, fish or meat periodically so that all parts of the food are cooked uniformly. The time for cooking will depend to a large extent on the temperature of the fire. Periodically check the meat to find out if it is fully cooked, because exposure to the fire for long, can char and ruin the meal.
After the food is cooked, it is important to douse the fire which was used, so that it does not cause a forest fire. Fires should be monitored, because the fire can easily spread, due to winds or other reasons. It will take approximately twenty minutes to completely extinguish the fire, and ensure that no smoldering ashes remain. Water is the most popular way of dowsing a fire, and the embers, ashes should be checked to ensure that the fire is completely dowsed. In case a fire pit is being used, the soil removed while digging the pit can be used to refill the pit, so that the embers, ashes are not exposed. So using the above tips, a person with limited experience can cook using a wood fire, on his or her next camping trip.