When that autumn chill hits, it’s time to retire your thongs and shorts and break out those ugg boots and trackies to stay cosy while making the most of being at home.
Usually, at this time of the year, the fire bans are lifted making it the perfect opportunity to head to your favourite secluded campsite and flex your rusty camp cooking muscle.
This year, however, it’s all hands on deck at home (literally), so why not enjoy a bit of the outdoors with some campfire cooking at home?
Let’s get cracking!
Enjoy a bit of the outdoors at home. Image: George Aitchison
Guidelines – having a fire in your backyard
Make sure you check what the restrictions are in your state for contained fires before you get excited and start your cookup. These are in place to reduce the impact of smoke on the environment as well as the health of your neighbours.
For example, in South Australia, according to the Environmental Protection Authority, inside the Adelaide metropolitan area, you can have a fire for the preparation of food and beverages and for heating an outdoor area using a brazier, chiminea or fire pit, but you can only use charcoal.
If you’re outside of metropolitan Adelaide and townships then you can have a fire for preparation of food and beverages and for heating an outdoor area using a brazier, chiminea or fire pit using dry timber, charcoal or plant matter.
Cook up some delicious campfire food at home. Image: Mary Billard
Cooking with charcoal vs cooking with wood
Charcoal is going to be faster than wood fire cooking, and will also produce less smoke so you won’t have that smoky flavour you get when cooking over a fire. But, this does mean that it causes less air pollution. Charcoal is also lightweight and fairly easy to get your hands on as most hardware or barbecue stores will sell it.
In terms of wood, there are some limitations as to where you can collect it for fires if you are out camping, but you can get your hands on alternatives, such as briquettes/Ekologs or timber from hardware or landscape suppliers. For more information on how to choose wood for campfires, head here.
It will take you a bit more time to burn the wood long enough to create coals on the fire to have it ready to cook your food, but once you do, the woodfire flavours will be worth the wait.
Cooking with charcoal is a bit quicker and easier than using wood. Image: osoliving
What to cook on?
When it comes to what you can cook on, according to the regulations in place at this time, you can use a brazier, chiminea or fire pit – so those are your best bet for trying the delicious campfire recipes you’ve got your eye on over the coming months.
Firepit options for warmth and cooking:
Stainless steel designs
The folding design makes it easy to set up and store, and the shiny food-grade stainless-steel design is nice and stylish, so it will look good set up in your backyard.
There are more simplistic options out there, like the Fire Disc Plus from Coleman, which is a stainless steel dish on legs that can support your cast iron pots or camp oven as it has a 30kg weight rating.
A stainless steel fire pit is ideal for at home or campsite use. Image: Darche
High-tech fire pits
A more high-tech option is the snazzy-looking Fire Pit from BioLite, which is the smokeless solution to cooking and warming up outdoors.
This unit uses patented airflow technology for hyper-efficient flames without the smoke, the x-ray mesh on the Fire Pit gives you the mesmerising view of a floating fire, and the rack can be adjusted to use with both charcoal or wood as fuel.
It features 10,400 mAh pack which can be recharged easily via USB to give you up to 24 hours of power, it can be controlled by the free compatible Bluetooth app, and it folds up for transport.
The removable grill plate allows you to cook yummy Japanese hibachi-style meals, so it’s a great option for those who love a bit of technology and style with their gear.
For something a bit more high-tech, check out BioLite’s Fire Pit. Image: BioLite
The classic Ozpig cooker is something you might already have in your camping kit as it’s versatile enough to be used on your outdoor adventures, as well as out on the deck. You can cook all sorts on here, and there are various accessories available such as a smoker, rotisserie kit, and BBQ plates to name a few so that you can try an array of tasty dishes on your pig.
Warm up by the fire, while cooking up a storm on the ozpig. Image: Naive Nomads
Cookware to use with firepits
Now would also be a great time to dust off your camp oven and give it a whirl. The art of camp oven cooking is quite different from normal cooking as you don’t have as much control, but with a bit of practice, you’ll be a natural.
Camp ovens come in two different formats – spun steel and cast iron.
Spun steel is lighter and more durable in terms of transportation, however, cast iron can last you a lifetime with proper care and retains heat beautifully so you can cook roasts to perfection. But, cast irons can be quite heavy and slightly brittle – making them not ideal for transporting on corrugated roads. You will have to season your camp oven as well, so check out our guide here for details on how to do that.
Spun steel weighs less, and won’t break if you drop it, but are a bit easier to use on a gas stove so they are a bit more versatile. For more on how to choose the right camp oven for you, check out our video here.
Whether it’s spun steel or cast iron, a camp oven is a must. Image: iStock
Jaffle irons and toaster forks
If you’re feeling a bit lazier, or you want to try something a bit more fun with the kids – a jaffle iron is the perfect campfire cooking solution. Grab two pieces of bread and your favourite fillings, stick them in the jaffle iron and the kids can toast them at a safe distance from the fire or fire pit. A toaster fork is also a must for roasting marshmallows for an after-dinner treat.
A jaffle iron is a fun choice for the whole family. Image: petersfoodadventures
There are a number of cooking stands available that come in a few different configurations to suit your cooking style. You can choose from a flat plate, grill or combo plates that enable you to create a variety of dishes over a fire, whatever your setup.
Cookstands are versatile and ideal for camping home or away. Image: Hillbilly
Camp cooking recipe ideas
Damper – sweet or savoury
Damper – a campfire classic that always goes down a treat with it’s crunchy outer, and fluffy inside. Here is a delicious recipe on how to bake one in your camp oven. The great thing about damper is that it’s super versatile depending on what you put in it. Try it with sultanas, brown sugar and cinnamon for a sweet treat or add cheese and bacon for a savoury twist.
Yum! You can’t go wrong with a classic damper recipe. Image: Christina Pickard
Roast meat with veggies
Or, if you’ve got more time on your hands, fill up your backyard with the mouth-watering smells of roast pork and veggies by trying out our roast pork in a camp oven recipe here.
The whole family can sit down outside to a traditional roast in the backyard. Image: Bobbi Lin
Other great dishes to try
Other delicious and meals to make include nachos, brisket, ribs, corn on the cob, and paella to name a few. You could even give some simple dessert options a crack as a treat. For more camp recipe inspiration, check out our range of recipe books here. The benefit of cooking at home is that you’ve got everything you need inside your own pantry, so you’ve got the flexibility to be a bit more creative with what you cook.
Are you going to give homestyle campfire cooking a crack this autumn/winter?
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