There seems to be something about cooking out of doors that makes the chore somehow mystical, for it’s almost as though you are prohibited from using the same techniques in the wild as you would use in your own home. Heck, you can be shamed into embarrassment by using some of the same utensils at the campsite that you use every day in the kitchen. So some of us have tons of cookware in the kitchen, and then we have a crate of other stuff that we use when out camping. Is it OK to have two sets of cookware? If you can afford it, of course it’s OK. A better question to ask is; is it a good idea to have two sets of cookware, and if so, what kind of cookware should we have?

There are a couple of ways to look at food preparation, and when it comes to assessing the best options for a long term survival situation, such as we may be seeing in the not so distant future here in the US, we have to look at more than one issue to arrive at a competent answer to the question at hand. For one thing, weekend camping, while fun and a good way to develop your skills for survival and preparedness, doesn’t really equate to what long term survival really means. And it’s because of this reason we tend to forget to include various facts surrounding the questions and answers we ask and give.

That said; let’s look at what we really need to know about all around cooking from an amateurs view. I say amateur because the level of quality, style and construction found in professional cookware is far beyond what many of us are either willing or able to pay for. There are hundreds of options available for cookware today, ranging from top of the line to pure garbage. Most of us simply buy the garbage stuff for camping and toss it away when you get sick of trying to clean it.

When we look at the potential for long term planning and weighing our options on equipment, it’s always best to purchase the best quality that you can afford. There are several reasons for that position, but perhaps the best reason is that quality is a lasting proposition. Quality cookware can be of good service for decades, or longer if cared for properly. When we enter into a period of long term survival, we may not be able to obtain cookware period, at any price, and therefore need to have utensils that we know we can rely upon.

It’s one thing to be able to stick a hot dog or sausage on a stick and twirl it over an open fire, but I hardly think that’s really going to hold up as anybody’s long term food preparation plan. It’ll get old pretty quick. You’ll need to be able to prepare normal, or as close to normal foods on a daily basis to keep the flow of life continuing on a normal basis. That’s part of what preparedness is really all about you know. Keeping the lives of your family flowing in a normal routine allows you to live as close to normal in a survival atmosphere and thus increases your chances of success.

There are several types of cookware, each with its own properties that can make them ideal selections, but also have adverse properties that can make them a mistake to buy. We have, in general, cast iron, stainless steel, Teflon coated, and aluminum (cast and stamped). Which types should we rule out at this stage of the game? Remember that we are looking at the potential for a long term meltdown of society, as well as economy and industry. Whatever you pick may have to be the only cookware you have for several years.

For this reason, I would eliminate Teflon coated cookware right off the bat. Before you get excited at that statement, let’s look at the controversy surrounding Teflon that popped into life a few years ago. For one, Teflon itself was not the issue that caused the cry for many of the green population to urge you to dump your Teflon coated cookware. The real issue was in fact a chemical called Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This PFOA is not a naturally occurring substance and has been linked to developmental problems and other unspecified adverse reactions by the EPA. According to the EPA, PFOA Is very persistent in the environment; Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population; and remains in people for a very long time. As to whether there are any substantial dangers, the studies really don’t say. Teflon coated cookware may in fact be OK to use, but I myself don’t trust it, especially over a long period of time.

And that’s the real reason I strike Teflon cookware from the list, its long term usage. I have found that as Teflon coated cookware gets used over time, it tends to get more easily scratched. And as these scratches get older they get bigger and tend to chip easily, leaving chips of Teflon in your food. Not only for that reason, but we very well may be facing the probability of cooking over unpredictable heat sources such as campfires, woodstoves and makeshift heating appliances. This causes uneven and rapid heating which sometimes may separate the Teflon coating from the substrate material. Further, most Teflon coated cooking utensils are produced by the millions leading to poor quality construction. Thin walls make them prone to denting and possible cracking over time. Handles are usually riveted on, and continued use over a long time can make those connections loose, causing the handles to separate from the vessel itself. Most of today’s department store cookware is not made to last for decades. Always remember the planned obsolescence formula many manufacturers use when designing products.

For this same reason I would reject aluminum as a cookware choice. Also, one possible danger from aluminum is the toxicity levels and its connection to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. You’ll notice that aluminum cookware is practically non-existent today for this reason. You may ask if aluminum is toxic, why they still make aluminum foil and cans. To answer that, the dull side of a sheet of aluminum foil is actually a protective coating that keeps the food from contact with the aluminum. In the same way, cans and bottles also have a protective coating. Older utensils do not have that protective coating and should be discarded. This includes aluminum canteens, utensils and coffee pots as well.

Glass cookware is rejected for obvious reasons. You usually are not able to cook on an open fire with it, and the risk of breakage is high, which would leave you with no cookware. That leaves us with two choices, stainless steel and cast iron. Out of the two, my favored is the cast iron, but you can’t cook in as wide a variety of ways as you can with stainless, so my suggestion is that you have both types at hand. Cast iron is sometimes available coated with ceramic, and that’s fine as long as you realize there may be some problems cooking with it over an open fire. That’s why I have good old fashion cookware.

A very good alternative, and quite rugged as well would be the steel enamelware cookware manufactured for the camping community. It is relatively cheap, and it the handles break, can be easily repaired by someone with the knowhow. The handles are usually welded onto the vessel; as opposed to the riveted fashion other types of cookware are fastened together.

For most cases I would recommend a cast iron fry pan, of at least ten inches in diameter and a kettle or stewpot with a matching lid, sized appropriately for your need. Along with the two cast pieces you should also have a couple of stainless or enamelware fry or sauté pans, and a couple of different sized sauce pots with lids. But above all you need a good old fashioned coffee boiler for that morning cup of Java brew. Percolator styles are a rarity today because of the fact that hardly anyone brews coffee that way anymore. If you have fine ground coffee at hand destined for your no longer working drip coffee maker, you can still use it in a percolator, which requires a coarser ground coffee. Simply wrap the fine ground coffee into a clean white cotton bag and place it into the percolator basket.

If you really want to be prepared you can make some of these bags up ahead of time, as these can also be used for making tea and other drinks and poultices as well.

But this is just another issue you really need to research now before time runs out on us. Prepare today and you can survive tomorrow as they say. Look into all of the different types of cookware and make your own decisions as to what style and construction you feel comfortable with. My opinions are my opinions, and what works for me may not work for you. Just remember that as always, look to quality first, and get the very best quality you can afford to buy. And along with that remember that the most expensive item on the shelf isn’t necessarily the best quality on the shelf. Many times prices are set based upon the brand name, and nothing more.

  1. […] Survival &#1072nd camping cookware basics « Surviving Th&#1077 Times […]

  2. […] Survival &#1072nd camping cookware basics « Surviving Th&#1077 Times […]

  3. a kettle and a cast iron pan are the only things needed for cooking when camping. great tips.

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