The Basics of Primitive (Survival) Cooking

a young strong caveman is stoking the fire to cook a chicken leg
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When placed in a survival situation, anyone can cook. It’s a basic skill that humans have, even if we don’t all make use of it.

The most basic component of cooking is heat. How to start and maintain a cooking fire is something that everyone interested in survival skills should learn, whether by using matches or the old-fashioned way using flint or friction.

Once a controlled blaze is available, it is possible to employ different cooking techniques, like boiling, grilling, roasting, steaming, smoking, frying and baking .

In using fire to cook, it is not ideal to expose food directly to open flames, which have an inconsistent heat distribution. Flame cooking can result in a burnt outer layer of food and uncooked portions inside.

For this reason, it is always better to harness the heat from the fire in an “indirect” way to cook food. A pan, oven or pot can be used to distribute the heat more evenly and control cooking temperatures.

Of course, when out in the wilderness, such cooking equipment might not always be available. Much like our Stone Age ancestors, we may need to rely on elements of the environment to survive.

Fortunately, our natural surroundings can provide an abundance of useful implements to aid in preparing food, like sticks, logs, reeds, soil, leaves and stones.

There are many basic styles in survival cooking. The one familiar to most people is spit roasting, whereby food is skewered on a stick and then rotated above the flames or coals. The stick can be held by hand, like when cooking hotdogs or marshmallows, or propped up on one or two forked branches secured upright in the ground, like for cooking small animals or birds.

Another common cooking method is to surround a flat stone with coals so that food can be dry-fried upon its hot surface. And a simple method of baking is to wrap food in wet leaves and bury it in glowing coals.

Other types of survival cooking include ash cooking, dangling, reflector cooking and clay cooking. Also used are steam pits, hot rock cooking, parching, plank cooking, bamboo steamers, smoking racks, bean-hole cooking and the Dakota Fire Hole .

These are just a few samples of primitive cooking techniques that anyone can learn. There really are limitless ways to cook food. All it takes is a bit of imagination and a real hunger to succeed.

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