A wood-burning stove (or wood burner or log burner in the UK) is a heating appliance capable of burning Wood Fuel and wood-derived Biomass fuel, such as sawdust bricks. Generally the appliance consists of a solid metal (usually Cast Iron or Steel) closed firebox, often lined by Fire Brick, and one or more air controls (which can be manually or automatically operated depending upon the stove). The first wood burning stove was patented in Strasbourg in 1557, two centuries before the Industrial Revolution would make iron an inexpensive and common material, so such stoves were high end consumer items and only gradually spread in use.
The stove is connected by ventilating stove pipe to a suitable Flue, which will fill with hot combustion gases once the fuel is ignited. The chimney or Flue Gases must be hotter than the outside temperature to ensure combustion gases are drawn out of the fire chamber and up the chimney.
Not too long ago stoves were people’s fireplace. Now they have become more of a lovely thing to sit around for a romantic evening or just to relax. However, you can still put your fireplace or wood burning stove to use for more than just heating your home and providing ambience. It’s still a great way to cook. It’s useful to have should you lose power during a winter storm as well. So here are some tips for using your wood burning stove or fireplace for winter cooking.
What You Need to Cook on a Wood Burning Stove/Fireplace
You will want to make sure you have the right utensils to cook on a wood burning stove or fireplace. The stuff you normally use in your kitchen might not be good enough. You’ll want things with long handles. Try some of these basic implements:
• Roasting fork
• Corn popper or chestnut roster – has a wire basket you use to hold what you’re cooking over the coals
• Pie irons for grilling sandwiches
• Dutch oven – go for a cast iron one as it distributes the heat better. This will hang over the fire and cook
• Cast iron trivet – to help regulate the amount of heat your Dutch oven gets
• Aluminum foil
• A fireplace shovel
• Pot holders
These are all very helpful tools when you want to cook on your wood burning stove or fireplace this winter.
Judging the Fire for Cooking
Knowing when the fire is ready might seem quite simple, but it’s not really like cooking on your charcoal grill outside. You will need a fire that has been burning for about 30–45 minutes.
A fire in its first stages is really very unpredictable in temperature. With all the leaping flames and embers burning it is not the best fire for cooking by. It will either burn your food or leave parts uncooked.
Once those flames die down and you have a nice bed of coals, you have the perfect temperature for cooking with on your wood burning stove or fireplace.
Now you can rake and distribute the coals to make for a nice cooking surface. Placing a few coals on the lid of your Dutch oven will make things cook faster. Get at it from all directions. Remember, you must keep adding fuel to the fire to keep it burning hot.
Cooking Inside the Box of the Wood Burning Stove
You can bake white potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and apples inside your wood burning stove. Just double wrap them in aluminum foil and lay the box right on the coals. Pile some coals on top and close the box. Allow to cook for half an hour and then turn over. If one area of your box is hotter than another then move things around to give them a chance to use all of that heat.
Cooking on the Stove of a Wood Burning Stove
This is where the Dutch oven comes into use. You can use the stove of your wood burning stove as a slow cooker. It’s great for making stews, soups, casseroles, and roasts. Place all of your ingredients in the Dutch oven and place on the stove uncovered. Allow it to come to a boil and then place the trivet on the stove and move the Dutch oven on top of the trivet. Put the lid on top and cook soups and stews all day.
A roast will be done in about 3-4 hours. Just check every hour or so that nothing is sticking and the fire is hot. Should the fire die down, just build it back up again. If the food cools, then take it off the trivet and allow to heat up directly on the stove (uncovered) as you did originally. Once heated, put it back on the trivet.
This is how you can use your wood burning stove and fireplace to cook – killing two birds with one stone by heating your home and cooking a meal at the same time. What’s your favourite meal cooked on a wood burning stove or fireplace?