Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cooking Your Food Storage - Part 1a

A lot of us are working on our three month supply, and is some cases one year supply. Depending on why you need to use this supply will dictate how you prepare it. If you do not have access to your normal cooking method, and for most of us that is electricity, how will you cook it. There are several methods for creating a heat source: propane, butane, charcoal, wood, etc.

Since I do quite of bit of Dutch Oven cooking, I generally use charcoal. In fact, I am making Kings Ranch Chicken for dinner tomorrow. So lets start with charcoal.

In Arizona most of the Dutch Oven cooks that I hang around with, members of the International Dutch Oven Society, prefer the Kingsford brand of charcoal, not the Match Light kind, but the standard charcoal that comes in the blue bags. The Match Light burns too hot and too quick. In other areas of the country, especially the Midwest and Texas, they seem to prefer the Royal Oak brand. They claim the Royal Oak briquettes are larger and burn longer. That has not been my experience. Your mileage may vary.

When heating charcoal for cooking with a Dutch Oven or other type of pot or pan, it is almost necessary to have a chimney of some sort. This is a device, as shown, that allows you to quickly heat your coals. I generally heat mine on a propane burner. I used to use newspaper, but I did not like dealing with the paper ashes and pieces blowing around. If you want to use newspaper, just take five half-sheets, crumple them up, and stuff them into the bottom of the chimney. This is plenty of paper to start a chimney full of coals. However, since coals are kind of pricey, just heat as many as you need.

The chimney shown is the Weber Chimney. I like it because it is large, has a nice handle plus bail (so you can easily use two hands), and the grate inside is conical, allowing the coals to heat faster. I got mine at Home Depot.

The coals are ready for the Dutch Oven when the corners begin turning grey. If you are going to need more coals right away, leave a couple of layers of the hot coals in the bottom of the chimney and pour the new ones on top. They will heat up without any additional heat.

Then it is time to dump out the coals and start heating your ovens.

I will explain a couple of methods of estimating the heat in the next blog.


  1. Richard,
    Isn't there a way to make a chimney out of a #10 can? It seems like I made one once as a scout leader.

    Bob Backus

  2. Yes there are a couple of ways. I Googled coffee can charcoal starter and found a number of articles on it. Three first ones were:

    My wife reminded me that we did this once and I did not like it. I suppose she is right.