Introduction: Pit Oven

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This is one of the best ways to cook when you are on camp. You can cook everything in the one pit. Once you get the oven up to temperature, your food wrapped and in the pit, you can forget about it for a few hours and go and enjoy yourself!
(check with the campsite before you dig any holes!)

You Will Need:
• Tinder.
• Kindling.
• Logs.
• Bricks/blocks to line your pit
• A number of washed rocks, fist size (avoid rocks that have been submerged in water as they may explode).
• A shovel or something to dig with.
• Two large cabbages or tin foil.
• Food to be cooked.

Step 1: Dig the Pit

Decide on an area to build your pit oven, mark out a rectangle at least 50cm (1.5ft) larger than your pit and lift the sods, if needed. Dig a pit 45-60 cm (1.5-2ft) deep and large enough to accommodate the pit lining (blocks) and the food you wish to cook. Line your pit with the blocks.

Step 2: Lay Your Kindling

Place your tinder and kindling at the bottom of the pit. Arrange it so it can be easily lit.

Step 3: Build the Pyramid

Construct an alter fire (pyramid fire) above the pit; by placing a layer of logs across the pit (ensure you leave enough space to light the kindling tepee underneath). Place another layer of logs on top at right angles, interspaced with rocks. Continue this until you have 5 or 6 layers and top it off with the rest of the stones.

Step 4: Light My Fire

Set the kindling tepee alight. This will in turn will burn the logs above it and heat the rocks. Eventually the logs will burn through and the fire will collapse into the pit. Leave it to burn for at least 45mins.

Step 5: Wrap Your Food

While you are waiting for your fire to burn down, you can start preparing your food. The easiest way is to wrap your meat and veg in two layers of tin-foil and seal it by crimping the ends. If you want to cut down on the waste, you could wrap the food in cabbage leaves and tie them in a bundles with natural cordage (sisal).  

Step 6: Prepare Your Oven

When the fire dies down you should be left with a good bed of embers and hot rocks. Dig some of these embers out and put them aside (be careful not to cause another fire). Spread out the remaining embers and hot rocks evenly.

Step 7: Place Your Food

Place the food parcels on the embers in the pit (vegetables to the outside and meat in the middle). Shovel the remaining embers and hot rocks back into the pit no top of your food parcels. You could place a sheet of sacking over this to make it easier to dig out later (cover it quickly before the sacking burns). Cover this with the earth removed form digging the pit. Ensure there is no steam or smoke escaping from the hole.

Step 8: Dig-up Your Dinner

Depending on what you are cooking it could take 3-6 hours to cook.

We where cooking ham hocks and potatoes and it took 2.5 hours.

When you think your food is cooked you can dig it up. Care is needed not to pierce the food parcels with the shovel. If you placed the sacking at step 6, just scrape most of the soil away and you should, with a little help, be able to grab the corners and lift the sacking and soil away.

Remember this is an oven its continence will be hot, ether use gloves or utensils to empty the pit.

Lift out food parcels and serve, warning they will be HOT!!


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