Unless you’re camping somewhere near a town or city and you plan on heading to the local fast food joint for all your meals (how boring!), you need to know how to cook while you’re there. A big part of cooking while camping is having the right cookware and equipment.
There are many different materials that cookware is made from, and cast iron is often regarded as one of the best. You probably have a few cast iron pots, pans, and skillets around the house.
But what about when you go camping? Is cast iron good for camping?
Cast iron is great for cooking while camping. Due to its ability to evenly distribute heat better than other materials, using cast iron while camping makes it easy to cook over an uneven heat source like a campfire. It’s also durable and easy to clean, which are both essential for camping.
Not only do I personally use cast iron cookware when I camp, but I’ve tried just about every method of cooking while camping over the years, and using cast iron has always been at the top, and it’s one of the best camping tips I can give you if you’re just getting started.
That’s not just my opinion either. For this article, I’ve talked with other experts and enthusiasts to get the true opinions on cast iron that you want to know.
Let’s dive in. Here’s everything you need to know about using cast iron cookware while camping.
- Cast iron is popular for camping due to its durability and even heat distribution.
- Seasoned cast iron provides a non-stick surface and enhances flavors.
- The benefits of cast iron cookware outweigh the cons unless you’re backpacking and need to focus on lightweight gear.
The Benefits of Cast Iron for Camping
Cast iron has earned its place in the camping world thanks to its durability, versatility, and superb heat distribution. When seasoned properly, cast iron cookware exhibits excellent non-stick properties and enhances the flavor of what you’re cooking, making it ideal for various campsite cooking needs.
Let’s take a look at these benefits in a bit more detail so you can start to see why cast iron is a great choice for camping cookware.
Durability and Versatility
Cast iron cookware is known for its durability, making it an excellent choice for your camping adventures. Since it’s made of heavy-duty material, cast iron pieces can withstand a lot of wear and tear, ensuring that they last for years.
Furthermore, cast iron’s versatility means you can use it for various cooking methods, such as with a camping stove or grill, or even straight on the campfire.
Suitability for High Temperatures
When camping, you’re likely to encounter situations where your cookware needs to handle high temperatures. Cast iron is particularly suited for this, as it can withstand extremely high temperatures without becoming damaged.
This property not only makes it ideal for open-fire cooking but also means that it can be used as a heat source if necessary, like to keep food warm.
Cooks Evenly and Enhances Flavors
One of the benefits of using cast iron while camping is its ability to retain and distribute heat evenly. This means that your food will cook more consistently, reducing the likelihood of burnt or undercooked spots.
Moreover, cast iron enhances the flavors of your food, as it tends to impart a desirable smoky taste when used over a campfire. This makes your campfire cooking taste even better and adds a bit more of that outdoorsy feeling to your trip.
Many cast iron cookware sets come pre-seasoned, which provides a natural, virtually non-stick surface. This feature is advantageous for camping, as it reduces the amount of oil or fat you need to cook with, and makes clean-up much more manageable.
Additionally, maintaining the seasoning on cast iron is simple and can be done even during your camping trips, ensuring that your cast iron cookware stays in tip-top shape.
Suitable Cast Iron Cookware for Camping
Let’s take a look at some of the different pieces of cast iron cookware you might want to add to your camping gear. You certainly won’t have to bring all of this every time you go camping, but it’s nice to be able to pick and choose what you want to bring!
A cast iron skillet is an essential piece of cookware for any camping trip. It is perfect for cooking up a delicious breakfast, searing steaks, or anything in between. A cast iron skillet heats evenly, allowing for consistently cooked food, and it retains heat well, keeping your meal warm and enjoyable.
Additionally, a well-seasoned skillet is naturally non-stick, making it easy to clean up after a satisfying campfire meal.
When it comes to slow cooking over a campfire, the cast iron Dutch oven is your go-to choice. This versatile and durable pot allows you to make mouthwatering stews, roasts, and even bake bread or desserts, right at your campsite.
The heavy lid of the Dutch oven retains heat and moisture, ensuring that your food is cooked evenly throughout. With a Dutch oven, you can prepare a wide variety of delicious meals to satisfy any cravings while enjoying your outdoor adventures.
For the perfect outdoor breakfast or a satisfying lunch, the cast iron griddle is an indispensable camping companion. Its flat surface is ideal for cooking pancakes, bacon, eggs, or grilled cheese sandwiches with ease. Cast iron griddles provide uniform heat distribution across the cookware, which helps prevent hotspots or undercooked areas.
Plus, the griddle’s non-stick surface allows for easy flipping and minimal clean-up. Don’t forget to pack this versatile cookware item when planning your camping menu.
Pots and Pans
Last but not least, a set of cast iron pots and pans is crucial for any comprehensive camping cookware collection. These pots and pans come in handy for boiling water, making soups, or cooking pasta or rice. Cast iron cookware is particularly suitable for camping due to its durability, heat retention, and ability to be used over an open flame.
Remember to pack a variety of pots and pans to cover all your cooking needs, and you’ll be able to create unforgettable meals while experiencing the great outdoors.
By choosing the right cast iron camping cookware, your camping culinary experience will be a breeze. Whether you’re preparing breakfast on a griddle, slow-cooking a stew in a Dutch oven, or boiling water in a sturdy pot, your outdoor kitchen will be well-equipped for both flavor and fun. Happy camping!
Cooking with Cast Iron while Camping
Cast iron cookware is ideal for campfire cooking because of its ability to distribute heat evenly and withstand high temperatures. To start, get your campfire going by following our complete guide on how to start a campfire.
Once your campfire is ready, place a cooking grate above it and position your cast iron Dutch oven or skillet on the grate. This will allow more even heating and reduce the chance of burning your food. Remember to be patient, as cooking with a cast iron over a campfire may take longer than you’re used to at home.
Cooking on a Camping Stove
When using a cast iron pan on a camping stove, it’s vital to manage the heat appropriately. Start with a low heat setting and slowly increase if necessary, as cast iron retains heat well and can cause food to cook faster than expected. Paying attention to the heat levels will prevent your meal from sticking to the pan or burning.
One of the key benefits of using a camping stove with cast iron is the precise heat control it offers, even if cooking takes a little more time than on a campfire.
Using Tongs, Spatula, and Other Utensils
Utilizing suitable utensils while cooking with cast iron on a campfire or camping stove will make the process more manageable and help protect your cookware’s seasoning. Tongs are ideal for turning meat, while a spatula can be helpful when flipping pancakes or handling delicate meals.
Be sure to use wooden or silicon-coated utensils, as metal ones can scrape off the seasoning on your cast iron cookware. With the right utensils, you will not only make your camping meals more enjoyable but also maintain the quality and longevity of your cast iron cookware.
Care and Maintenance of Cast Iron
When it comes to cleaning your cast iron while camping, it’s crucial to remember that soap is not necessary. Instead, rinse your cookware with warm water and use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub away any food particles.
If the cookware stubbornly clings to residue, boil some water in the pan for a few minutes to help loosen the debris. After rinsing, make sure you dry the cast iron completely, as moisture can cause rust.
One tip to aid in drying is to gently heat it on the stovetop before applying oil once it cools.
Proper seasoning is essential for maintaining your cast iron cookware and its non-stick surface. Before you season, ensure the cookware is completely clean and dry, then lightly coat its surface with a high smoke point oil, like vegetable or canola oil.
Place the cookware on a stove or hot campfire for a few minutes to allow the oil to penetrate the cast iron’s porous surface. Doing this step while the pan is still warm from cleaning allows for better absorption.
Repeat this process as needed to maintain the seasoning.
To prevent rusting, it’s essential to keep your cast iron cookware clean, dry, and properly seasoned. Here are some tips for avoiding rust:
- Always dry the pan thoroughly after washing.
- Avoid soaking cast iron in water for extended periods.
- Apply a light layer of oil after each use.
- Use your cast iron regularly to maintain the seasoning.
- When stored, avoid stacking or placing anything on top of the pan to prevent moisture build-up.
Following these steps will help ensure the longevity of your cast iron cookware, making it perfect for camping and creating delicious outdoor meals.
Pros and Cons of Using Cast Iron While Camping
- Durability: One of the major benefits of cast iron cookware is its durability. It can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for cooking over a campfire, on a grill, or even a camp stove.
- Versatility: Cast iron is versatile and can be used for various cooking methods while camping, such as frying, grilling, and baking. You can even use it with hot charcoal, which enhances the flexibility of your outdoor cooking experience.
- Heat distribution and retention: Cast iron has a reputation for distributing heat evenly and retaining it for a more extended period. This ultimately leads to even cooking without any cold spots, making your food taste better and cook more consistently.
- Non-stick and easy to clean (when seasoned properly): When seasoned correctly, cast iron becomes virtually non-stick, which makes cooking and cleaning easier.
- Weight: Cast iron cookware is heavy, which might not make it the best choice for backpacking trips. However, for car camping, it’s a suitable option since weight becomes less of a concern.
- Rust and maintenance: Cast iron is prone to rust, especially when exposed to moisture. It requires proper seasoning and regular care to ensure durability and longevity. Make sure to clean and store it properly after use to avoid rusting and maintain its optimal performance.
Using cast iron cookware during your camping adventures is both a functional and rewarding experience. Its durability, versatility, and excellent heat distribution make it a popular choice for outdoor cooking, while its weight and maintenance requirements are factors to consider when deciding if it’s the right choice for your specific camping needs.
Is Cast Iron Good For Camping? The Pros Outweigh the Cons
Using cast iron cookware for camping is an excellent choice due to its ability to distribute heat evenly, durability at high temperatures, and virtually non-stick surface when properly seasoned. It is versatile and suitable for various types of campsite cooking needs.
Cast iron is a must-have for campfire cooking as it can perform exceptionally well with a couple of skillets and a griddle over an open fire. In a pinch, just bring a single cast iron skillet and you’ll be amazed at how much you can do with it!
To ensure your cast iron cookware lasts a lifetime, it is important to adequately season, clean, and maintain it. Although it might seem daunting at first, proper care is not too difficult once you get accustomed to it.
So, to sum it up, cast iron is not only good for camping but can also be an indispensable companion for campfire cooking. With proper care and maintenance, it provides a versatile cooking experience that can elevate your camping meals and create long-lasting memories around the campfire.