At some point in the future, you may find yourself without the ability to use your microwaves, electric or gas stoves and ovens that you're used to cooking with. It's important that you have the tools and knowledge to cook your food with other methods that don't rely on the "grid".
Cooking is necessary for us to enjoy many types of food - not only for the taste, but also for safety, sanitation, and nutritional purposes. Today we're going to be talking about some of the options you have for off-grid cooking, and some things to consider as you plan your purchases and storage.
There are some tools in the food preparation category that you'll want to be sure you have available. A bucket opener is important to have to open and use your food storage buckets, or the proper wrench to open a water barrel. You'll want to have a pocket knife/multi-tool, which often includes other helpful cooking tools, like a can-opener. Be sure to try out all the accessories on your multi-tool so you know how to use them. And if you're missing a spatula or spoon, a pocket knife can allow you to carve out a make-shift utensil which can be handy in cook preparation.
You'll also want to have some hand-operated tools to replace ones you might have that require electricity, like grinders and mixers. Keep a good collection of pots and pans, knives and sharpeners, pot holders, pliers or vice grips for use in emergency cooking.
Get some high quality cast iron skillets, griddles and dutch ovens. Learn how to use them and take care of them. Because they hold heat so long, they are excellent for extending the life of your fuels. And if they are properly seasoned, they are almost non-stick and make cooking and clean-up easy.
Cooking appliances - Liquid Fuels
Small propane stoves or large portable Camp Chef style stoves are very handy. These can be used indoors as long as you be sure there are no fuel leaks in your tanks or hoses. Keep the larger stoves on legs, or make sure your surface under your stove is well insulated. Of course, you'll need to be prepared with plenty of fuel. If you're willing to make a significant investment, you can purchase a propane range and a large propane tank for long-term emergency use.
One concern you might have is the conservation of your propane. Dutch oven cooking allows you to use less fuel because the dutch oven material will absorb and store the heat. High-temperature glass mat insulation used with a Camp Chef style stove will allow you to cook with a Dutch oven on even less fuel.
Kerosene stoves and diesel stoves are other options. If you're a farmer or truck operator with a lot of diesel fuel around, you might consider this option. These stoves must be vented outdoors.
Alcohol stoves do an excellent job and are relatively safe. Some of the backpacking alcohol stoves are fairly inefficient. Alcohol is often used at sea, so check marine supply stores for efficient alcohol stoves.
Liquid fuel is to be used only outdoors. These are from the gasoline family, and give off fumes that are not safe indoors. If you use a camp stove that uses this type of fuel, they work very well at very low temperatures. White gas appliance fuels also tend to last the longest as far as durability.
Cooking appliances - Solid Fuels
Coal stoves are often made primarily for heating but can be used for cooking. Wood stoves are also a good option. If your budget will allow for these larger appliances, they are wonderful indoors.
Rocket stoves are great for outdoor cooking, but could also be used indoors inside of a masonry fireplace. In the winter, however, you may lose a lot of heat up your chimney while your stove is in use, so you may want to keep it outside. You can purchase a rocket stove, or even make your own. When you're shopping for a rocket stove, look for one with stainless steel or cast iron grates that will allow you to also burn charcoal. You'll usually use small sticks and twigs, which allows you to burn very efficiently and cleanly.
It's a good idea to learn how to make your own rocket stove in case your stove isn't available, or if it breaks down. They can be made out of blocks, bricks, concrete, sheet metal, or even coffee cans. There are several tutorials on Youtube. Here is just one method of building a rocket stove:
Try it out
Get out your stoves that you've purchased and try them out! Find out the limitations and problems now while they are easy to fix. And have fun! Have an adventure cooking with these alternate methods and learn what you like to cook and how to cook them. Practice cooking efficiently to make your fuel supply go farther. You may find that your favorite foods taste even better cooked outdoors.
Listen to Episode 14
(broadcast January 9, 2017)
Instructor: Jim Phillips
Jim Phillips is a nationally known speaker and teacher who has professionally taught thousands of classes all across the United States for 40 years. For a number of years prior to this career, his hobby was teaching cold weather safety & survival.
Jim is a strong advocate of self-reliance living and family preparedness. He developed an entire preparedness curriculum by asking himself the question “What if?” and then setting out to discover what actually does and does not work.
The answers he seeks (and then teaches) must be based on true principles derived from first-hand experience. Above all else, he believes that attitude and practical knowledge is more critical to survival than having a bunch of “stuff.”