When it comes to cooking at home, most people only have two choices, the stove or the microwave.
Both of those are not bad options but when you are homesteading you probably have a third option that is more appealing and that is cooking over a fire pit.
This may just be my opinion, but I think almost all food tastes better when it is cooked over an open flame and coals. There is just something about the smoke and the flames licking the food that adds a flavor to it that cannot be obtained in any other way.
Anymore, cooking over an open flame, outside, may not be all that common and for this reason, I can see some people’s reluctance in doing so. It may take more and effort to prepare the fire, cooking, and cleaning up.
But trust me when I say that it is not all that difficult, and the benefits of how the food tastes far outweigh the work.
If you are new to homesteading or cooking outside in general, I wanted to outline a few methods to make this experience easier and more enjoyable.
Ways to Cook Over a Firepit
There are several different ways to cook over an outdoor fire and which way you choose will primarily depend on what you are cooking and how you would like it cooked. Certain methods will require additional equipment but do not worry as some of it can be resourced from around your property.
This is probably one of the most popular ways to cook over a firepit because it is not all that different than cooking on a propane or charcoal grill, but it certainly provides a lot more flavor.
The first thing that you will need is a grill grate. Grates come in many different sizes, from small foldable grills to large ones that can cover the entire pit. Match the size of the grate to your cooking area or how much food you wish to prepare at one time.
If you already have a charcoal grill with a removable grate, consider using that as an affordable way to get started.
Pictured below are two different grates. The one on the left is a removable one from a grill, as mentioned above. The one on the right is an adjustable grill.
The removable grate is a cheap way to get started but it will need a base to sit on if your fire pit is larger than the grate. Rocks or green logs of similar sizes can be used to provide a foundation.
The adjustable grill is extremely easy to use because it only consists of two parts. The stake is pounded into the ground and the grate is held onto the stake by friction. This allows the grate to be easily moved up and down or sideways to adjust heating temperatures
It is helpful to have the base for the grate set up first before starting the fire. Once it is in position, you can create a bed of hot coals directly underneath the cooking area.
Pot or Pan
A pot or pan can be used on top of a grill, hanged above a fire, or set right onto the coals. Of course, you will need to make sure your cookware is appropriate for outdoor cooking, such as a cast iron skillet, to keep it from becoming damaged.
These can be used when you do may not want the food in direct contact with the flames or when you want to fry, boil, simmer, sautee, or bake.
Cookware such as this helps to keep liquid and food contained rather than falling through a grill grate. They are also needed for making stews, soups, or food like eggs.
A spit is used in the absence of normal cooking gear or when you want to cook food slowly, typically a piece of meat.
You can purchase a manufactured spit or you can create one yourself as their design is quite simple and straightforward.
It consists of three pieces. Two posts are driven into the ground on either side of the fire. At the top of each post is a notch or V section. The third piece spans the distance over the fire and rests in the V section of each post.
A piece of food, usually meat, is placed onto the piece that spans the length of the fire and it is slowly rotated to ensure even cooking throughout.
One common problem that people run into when making a spit, is that the food will not rotate. When a single stick or rod is placed through a piece of meat, it will end up spinning freely without rotating the food.
To fix this, pierce the food in multiple locations, create prongs on the spit, pierce the food with more than one hanging rod.
If you have a backyard firepit then you have probably used this method more than once for roasting a few marshmallows.
Food can be cooked over a fire by piercing it with a stick and holding it over a flame.
This works when nothing else is available or when you do not want to put a lot of time and money into equipment.
However, it can be problematic as the food will not cook evenly without your attention and the weight of the food can cause it to fall off.
To help keep the food from falling into the fire, use a stick that has two prongs, rotate it frequently, and use food that is not too heavy.
On the Coals
This may seem unsanitary to most but there is nothing unsanitary about cooking directly on the coals and it gives a unique flavor to the food you are cooking.
Most people may be concerned with having ash on their food but ash in small amounts can actually be soothing to the stomach. So, I would not be overly worried about this if you are using good wood.
To use this method, I recommend building a good base of hot embers and placing the meat directly on top.
Since the food is in direct contact with the heat, you will need to keep a close eye on the food and turn it regularly to prevent overcooking or burning. Remember, more hot coals and fewer flames.
It may take a little extra effort cooking this way, but the benefits are utterly amazing, and you will not regret the extra energy that is put into it.
Cooking over a fire pit provides a unique flavor that cannot be beaten, it gets you outside, and you can enjoy the company of friends and family while preparing a delicious meal. What’s not to like?
What is your favorite food to cook over an open flame? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!