Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Cooking with Charcoal - Making a Cardboard Box Oven
One of the most important storage items you need to consider is fuel. Today we are talking about one type of fuel used for cooking. Charcoal briquettes are a great storage item. You can store them in airtight containers or bucket with a lid in a shed or garage so that they stay dry and are easily accessible.
There are many different ways to cook with briquettes. Today we are discussing just one of these methods – a Homemade Cardboard Box Oven.
This oven is easy to make and can be used to bake in the event of a power outage. It is a good idea to learn how to make an oven and especially how to use it BEFORE the need arises. It isn’t complicated or difficult and if you involve your family it can be a fun activity. Here are the instructions for making a Cardboard Box Oven:
What you need:
1 cardboard box with a slide-on top (like a box that holds reams of paper
Matches (or a lighter)
1 round aluminum pie or cake pan (to place your charcoals in)
3 wire hangers
Scissors or a knife
The food you want to bake
Line the inside of your box and the inside of your lid with aluminum foil. If you'd like, dab some Elmer's glue around the inside and cover to hold the foil in place (this is a good idea if you want to keep your box oven, and not just make a new one in an emergency).
With scissors or a knife, poke three holes in a straight line on each end of the box, about halfway down from the top. Try to make the holes on one end of the box line up with the holes on the other end of the box. You'll see what these are for in just a minute.
Straighten out your three hangers. Put the three straightened hangers through the holes. These will act as a shelf to place your food on.
Next, bend your wires so that they will remain tight inside the oven. You don't want heavy food bending the wires and sitting directly on the charcoals. This step might be kind of difficult, so you may want an extra pair of hands and some pliers. It doesn't have to look pretty, it just has to work!
Next, poke some other small random holes in your box so that oxygen can get in and gases can get out. If your holes on the side remain small, use your knife or scissors and poke a few holes on the top of the box, and maybe one or two on each side. If the three holes you poked in each side are larger than just big enough for the wire to fit through you probably won’t need extra holes. If they have become fairly large, they are probably all you need.
Now you are ready to cook. Place some charcoal briquettes in your round aluminum plate. Each charcoal briquette supplies 40º of heat, so 9 briquettes will give you a 360º oven.
Light your briquettes with the matches or a lighter (it will probably take a few matches. Be sure that each briquette burns). Let the briquettes burn for a while... Until they look like this! Then you're ready to go.
With your tongs, pick up the hot plate of charcoal and slide it carefully between your wire shelf onto the bottom of your box.
Use the tongs to straighten out the charcoals and spread them out a bit. Have your food prepared when the charcoals are ready to go. Try baking a cake first if you want an easy experiment.
Place your food on the wire racks and cover with your oven top with the foil lined box lid. Time your food as you would in an oven. *Note: If your recipe calls for a longer baking time (more than 45 minutes to an hour), you will probably have to switch out your charcoals with new charcoals around the 45-minute mark.
Do not use your oven on a wooden deck or on grass, or anything flammable. It needs to be placed on concrete or blocks. Never use this oven indoors.
Carefully life the pan out of your oven (use hot pads!) and enjoy! You can eat well with no electricity. Cooking with charcoal in your homemade oven can allow you to bake as you would in your home oven. Try several different items and become proficient at baking in your cardboard box oven. Some people have even cooked a turkey in their ovens! This would be a great family activity to do during the summer to learn more preparedness skills and have fun at the same time. *Note: when learning to use your cardboard oven, try baking with disposable foil baking pans. Experiment with cakes, cookies, quick breads for a fun learning experience.
If you want to save your oven for an emergency, keep it inside a heavy duty garbage bag and place on a shelf or in a storage tote to keep it from getting moisture damage or becoming smashed or damaged.