One of the most enjoyable parts of camping is the simple yet delicious food you cook in the great outdoors. Something about the sound and smell of bacon and eggs sizzling against the backdrop of the peaceful, silent natural landscape while sipping a cup of morning joe is infinitely more satisfying than the same exact meal cooked at home.
However, in the Winter months, having to step outside the warm comfort of your tent into the cold and wind for your cooking is a bit less satisfying. Luckily for Davis Tent customers, walled tent camping not only provides room for equipment and extra comforts, but also for a wood-burning stove, which can double as a cooktop.
Many campers who are new to the walled-tent life are unsure of some of the details of wood stove cooking, so here I’m going to give an overview and answer some frequently asked questions.
Stove-top Tent Cooking
Cooking with a tent stove is actually quite simple, if you follow a few guidelines. There was a time when most people cooked on a wood-burning stove, and many still do today, even in their homes. Your tent stove may be various sizes, but odds are it is sufficient to put at least one pan or pot onto. Cast iron skillets are recommended, but any cookware will do. Don’t forget the lids!
The biggest challenge when it comes to cooking on a tent stove is temperature control. Your stove will generally have a “hot spot” and, depending on its size, perhaps various other places you could use for lower heat. As there are many types of stoves, there’s no catch-all advice on this, other than simply to try the different spots and see how it goes, being careful not to burn your food of course.
Naturally, you can also raise or reduce the overall temperature by adding wood or coal, or tossing a small amount of water on the fire, but the change will take longer to occur than on a normal stove at home. Furthermore, the temperature you need for cooking of course may not match the temperature you need for the tent overall. If you find yourself needing a hotter stove to cook than you want for your tent, you can always open a flap to cool things off. Also, if you want to get maximum heat, it’s a good idea to use smaller pieces of wood that will burn hotter for a shorter time.
Especially if you have a small stove, it’s also important to know that you may need to turn the food over and mix it around more, as this will likely mean that the “hot spot” is smaller. Theoretically, you should be able to cook anything on a tent stove that you would cook at home, although the hot spot factor may make some things work better than others. For instance, soup is a great choice, whereas something that requires a big temperature change to be cooked properly, such as rice, may not work as well. It really just depends, and ultimately boils down to getting to know your particular stove.
Other Tent Stove Cooking Methods
It’s also possible to cook in a couple of other ways with your stove. One is to create a sort of tent stove-top oven, by turning a pot upside down on top of something which elevates the food from the stove-top, such as a trivet. Once set up, it can work much the same as an oven at home, but again with temperature being difficult to gauge at first, so keep a close eye on whatever you’re cooking.
Lastly, you can of course cook directly on top of the fire itself, using skewers, grate, or grilling basket. This is much like cooking over a campfire, with the exception that there will be more heat coming from all sides than there would be in an outdoor fire. It’s also less messy, so if you have the choice of cooking a steak, for instance, either in a pan on the stove or directly over the fire (in the firebox), then the direct flame cooking option may be less hassle, and also give your food a nice smoky flavor.