The great thing about woodstove cooking is it allows you to get twice as much out of your fuel. Not only will a woodstove cook your food, it will also keep you warm, saving you money on electricity and/or propane.
And if the power goes out, your woodstove will be especially helpful, keeping you and your family warm with hot meals in your bellies. If you’re serious about going off-grid or being as self-sufficient as possible, you owe it to yourself to learn about woodstoves.
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There are several tools you can add to your woodstove to making cooking and baking a little easier. For example, a chimney pipe oven. But even if you don’t retrofit your woodstove, there are plenty of techniques you can learn to help you get the most out of it.
When you cook on the top of a wood stove, the heat comes from the bottom, just like when cooking on your stovetop. Make sure you use a thick pan or cast iron pan which will distribute the heat evenly.
Unlike the stovetop, a wood stove takes a while to cool down, and thick-bottomed one will help regulate the heat and prevent scorching. Keep in mind that you can always remove the pan from the stove if it gets too hot.
There are three types of things you can cook on a wood stove:
- Foods that need a quick burst of high heat.
- Foods that need a long slow simmer.
- Baked goods in a dutch oven.
We’ll cover all three types below. Regardless of what you’re cooking or baking, you’ll need to pay close attention to how hot your wood stove is and keep an eye on the fuel and damper so you don’t burn or undercook anything.
High Heat Wood Stove Cooking
If you need to cook some quick high-heat foods, a great time is in the morning after you kick it on to heat your home. Start cooking right as your wood stove gets hot enough. Cook these things before you close the damper and let your wood stove burn more evenly with a slower and more consistent heat.
Here are a few examples:
- Hash Browns
This initial high heat is a great time to get breakfast going with foods that sear in a pan for just a few minutes.
Later in the day, when it’s time to add more fuel, open the damper and put a seasoned cast iron skillet on top to sear things like:
- Fried Rice
- Grilled Cheese
Slow Cooking Low Temperature Foods
During the daytime, when you’re outside working and the wood stove is dampened down and putting off slow consistent heat is the best time to slow-cook foods. Anything that can cook with a slow simmer will work, such as:
- Baked Beans
- Boiled potatoes or veggies
- Braised Meats
- Soups and Stews
Dutch Oven Baking
Slow cooking in a cast-iron Dutch oven can mimic the effect of cooking in a regular oven. Dutch ovens are made of thick metal that holds and diffuses the heat evenly around the food, giving the effect of a long slow braise in an oven.
The best foods for Dutch ovens are usually baked goods that can cook through fairly quickly. That way they’re done cooking before the heat at the bottom starts to burn them.
First, put an empty Dutch oven or cast-iron pan with a lid onto the woodstove. This gives it time to heat up completely so that when you add the baked goods, the heat will be coming from every direction. It’s just like preheating your oven.
Here are some good foods to cook this way:
- Corn Bread
- Dinner Rolls
- Drop Biscuits
- Whole roast chicken on a wire rack
Wood stoves naturally create a draft that sucks air out the chimney and dehumidifies the air. Sometimes in the winter, it’s worth putting a kettle on even if you don’t need any hot water because it will keep the air from drying out.
You can also use the wood stove to keep certain things warm such as bread dough or a fresh pie. Just place it next to the stove.
Wood stoves can also be used as dehydrators. Just hang your fruit, veggies or meat over it and they will slowly dehydrate.
As you can see, there are several uses for wood stoves besides just cooking. If you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?
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