Cast Iron Cooking and Camping
I’ve fallen in love with cooking with cast iron the past couple of years. It offers even cooking and a nonstick surface, and the health benefits are a plus. Not only does it contain no toxins like non-stick cookware does, but it also fortifies our food with iron.
Your cast iron is a great investment. If you take care of your cookware it will last you a lifetime and can be passsed down to future generations. The more often and longer you use your cast iron the more seasoned it will become adding extra flavor to your food.
- Be sure to clean your cookware right after your meal and once your cookware is cooled. It’s best to not submerge the cookware in water, and never soak water in the pan overnight as you might do with conventional cookware. Cast-iron and water don’t mix well as it tends to rust easy.
- I use minimal water and I never use soap to clean my cast iron. I think it goes with out saying to never put your cast iron in the dish washer. I remember my sweet Aunt Kelly washed my Uncle Mark’s cast iron in the dishwasher while they were dating. He had spent years building up the season on his cookware. Thankfully it wasn’t a deal breaker for the marriage as they just celebrated 25 years of marriage! We are so blessed to have her in our family, but it was a lesson to me as a little girl to never wash cast iron in the dishwasher.
- A stiff brush or plastic scraper I find works well for cleaning. Just be careful not to use a scouring pad that could scratch your cookware.
- Ounce the cookware is clean I dry it completely and then rub a small amount of oil into surface. At this point many people heat the pan for about ten minutes to ensure it’s dry and set. I do this step occasionally but, I just don’t make the time to do it every day I use my cookware.
Cast Iron Cooking with Coals
The last couple years we have brought our cast iron with us camping. It has been a fun adventure to cook with our dutch oven cast iron heated with coals. It definitely takes extra time, but its become a fun rewarding activity while we camp. The fresh mountain air and view you get while cooking outside is so peaceful and an added bonus.
I’ve found you can modify just about any recipe with a simple conversion chart from oven temps to coals, but there are quite a few recipe books and online recipes that are specific to cooking with coals; they will provide how many coals they recommend for the recipe. Here’s a link to a CONVERSION CHART , but most cast iron cookbooks provide one as well. With that said, we have had to use additional coals and/or additional cook time with most of the recipes we tried. This could be due to the high altitude of where we camp. So just allow yourself plenty of prep and cooking time to make modifications while you cook. We also keep a notebook with details and modifications of each recipe for the next time we use that specific recipe.
We use this handy coal starter to get our coals hot and ready to use. We also purchased this stand to place the coals and dutch ovens on while the meal cooks. These tools are convenient but not necessary as many people use the fire pit or dig a hole in the ground to place the coals.
Two of my favorite recipes I do when we camp are Pull Apart Italian Bread and Apple Crisp. The recipes are shared below.
Pull Apart Italian Bread
I’ve provided a link to the recipe of the Pull Apart Italian Bread HERE. I have to admit unless it’s a brand new recipe or I’m baking I don’t always measure exactly, especially when I’m camping. So with the Italian bread I used 19 roles, but I didn’t measure the rest of the ingredients; I would guess I doubled the rest of the ingredients. We followed the amount of coal guidelines on the recipe but the cook time ended up being about 20 minutes longer than the this recipe called for. This bread is a perfect combo with spaghetti or any Italian dinner. This recipe will not disappoint!
Cast Iron Apple Crisp
This apple crisp recipe my mom and grandma have made for years!
8 Granny Smith Apples
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Peel and slice apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Mix apples and spices together. Place the apples in the bottom of a 12 inch buttered cast iron dutch oven.
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 Cup of Sugar
2 Teaspoon Backing Powder
2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cup of Flower
In a bowl mix the flower, salt, backing powder, and sugar. Once mixed cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Once the butter is cut to about pea size add the egg and stir. Pour the topping mixture evenly over the seasoned apples.
Pour 1 Stick melted Butter over the top
Sprinkle with cinnamon
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Serve warm. We like to drizzle cream on the top or add a scoop of ice cream. Definitely one of the best fruit based desserts I’ve tried. A crowd pleaser for sure!
We used Ten coals on the bottom and 20 coals on the top. This is more than the conversion chart recommended, but we found with the higher altitude we needed more. The cook time ended up being 45 minutes. Like I said earlier, I’ve found cooking in dutch ovens and coals you may need to try different amounts of coals and cook times. It’s not as simple as putting the pan in your home oven for a specific time. To me this part of the enjoyment of cooking over coals.
Something else to keep in mind while cooking outside while camping is to watch the weather. We were so grateful we purchased a canopy this year for our camp trip. Halfway through the cook time of our Pull Apart Italian Bread it started pouring rain. We were able to slide the canopy over our oven set up, which protected our coals from the water. Be sure to have some type of cover ready just in case an unexpected rain storm hits.
I would love to hear your experiences and recipes with cast iron cooking over coals! Please share any tips or recipes you may have.