Cooking Over Open Fires
At some point, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to prepare your meals over a fire. You may have to do this in wilderness environment or even in your own back yard because a crisis has disrupted your utilities, and in some cases you may find you do not have any cooking utensils, pots or pans.
Building Your Fire
For best results dig down between four and six inches, pile the soil to one side, and save. Line the bottom of the pit with flat dry rocks. Do not use rocks that were in the water. The moisture content will cause the rocks to fracture and chips may fly off as the rocks are heated. The rocks provide a barrier between the ground and your fire. The moisture in the soil will inhibit the fire and in very wet soil, you would not be able to maintain the fire. Once you no longer need the fire simply, fill back in with the excavated soil.
Lay flat rocks around the perimeter that can be used as heating surfaces. If you do not have any cookware, you can place your food right on the flat rocks to cook or even bake.
You can build the ring of stones to elevate your cooking surface and place green saplings over the fire for a cooking or drying surface for meats, vegetables or to hold light pans. You do not want the flames touching the wooden grates or the food. The grates will become useless overtime so make sure you keep an eye on them so your food or pans do not fall into the fire.
Cooking by flame will burn the food on the outside, and to get the food done on the inside you would end up destroying the food. Indirect heat is the best method particularly if you are drying or smoking meats for preservation. Let the fire burn down to coals and place you food on the green saplings for cooking. You can enclose the fire pit with a poncho or tarp to help keep the heat confined around the food.
If you cannot make grates out of wood, you can prop several sticks over the fire to drape your food over, and remember to keep the food out of the flames.
Dakota fire pit has an air chamber for feeding the fire. The fire is below ground level and is ideal in windy conditions or in areas where sparks or flame could ignite the surrounding vegetation. The pit also conceals the flame from others at night. With this type of fire pit, you would simply place your cooking pan directly over the fire pit.
In an emergency, you can put holes in a metal coffee can or large food can and use as a stove/cooking surface. Put numerous holes in the can, place hot coals in the can, and place a pot or pan over the top to heat. You will need plenty of air holes because the pot or pan will cover the opening and deprive the fire of oxygen.