Camp Oven Temperatures

Assuming you already have a healthy campfire blazing, rather than try to balance your camp oven in the middle, shovel coals out of the fire to a cooking area and place the camp oven on them. The further you move from the fire, the more control you have over the heat and the more comfortable you will be while cooking. However, if you start making little piles of coals all through your campsite the one thing you will be sure to cook is the bottom of your feet. Coals will stay hot long after they stop glowing.

Do not put coals on the lid unless you are trying to brown the top of something or unless you only have access to really sad timber that only burns to ash and not coals and you just cant get any heat out of it. Some timber burns ‘hot and fast’, some burns ‘cool and long’, we recommend the stuff that burns ‘hot and long’, Gidgee wood being the ultimate in “Camp Oven Wood”.

In camp oven cooking, even the best cooks are at the mercy of raw materials. Peter,another good camp oven man, came out from the coast and was watching us prepare the evening meal, which was a big leg roast. He watched us sprinkle a shovel full of coals onto the ground and then throw the oven full of meat on it.

All this was well and good until we sat down to have a beer and recite some new poetry. Peter nearly had a fit. He thought we were going to be there all night unless we got coals packed around that oven like an anthill.

We then proceeded to have a polite discussion about the pros and cons of our different cooking styles and whose bloody place it is anyway. All became clear to Peter an hour later as he marveled over the quality of the “Gidgee” coals. They burn slow at a high, even heat, and take the guesswork out of camp oven cooking.

The shoe was on the other foot a few months later when we dropped in to sample Peter’s fine home brew. We were astounded at the amount of coals and mainly ash that he had to use on his camp oven to get anywhere. He actually has to completely bury his oven in ash and coals and replace this regularly so as to get any heat at all. The obvious problem with this is not only the amount of drinking time you miss out on while shoveling coals, but all the risk you run of getting ash and coal in your food.

So there you go, we can assure you that before long you will become an expert in judging the coal value of timber in different areas of Australia. That is why we will only describe the hotness of the oven and not the amount of coals to use in this book. You will just have to experiment.

Ronnie Wilson