Everyone knows that food tastes better when cooked outside, that's why UK campers have built up the fiercest reputation as the most dedicated outdoor chefs. It takes more than a little wind and rain to extinguish the spirit demonstrated by the thousands of us who camp and cook outside each week. With this in mind, and with our new range of titanium cookware in stock, we have put together a few ideas about the cooking equipment we like to use.
When you are cooking outside in your garden the worst that can happen is that you just have to cook everything inside and prepare yourself for ridicule. When you are out in the hills, as far away from civilisation as your legs will carry you, you need stuff that works, or you go hungry. A cast iron pot would work great for cooking up a chunky mountain vegetable stew but boy you wouldn't want to carry it far. Our camping cookware of choice is titanium, which is why we are steadily expanding our titanium cookware collection.
Cooking is just like putting together flatpack Ikea furniture, it is so much easier if you have the correct tools for the job and you do things in the sequence they are meant to be done in. Cooking away from home takes a little more thinking about if you are going to eat well or eat at all. There is no point in having the best ingredients if you are not equipped to cook it or you left the matches at home.
Simple gas stoves - these must be light, simple and work every time. There isn't really a bad stove on the market, but think about what you are going to use and where you are going to use. The small compact ones like the MSR Pocket Rocket are great but can be a little unstable with larger pans. Cartridge stoves hit the market a few years ago, they are considerably heavier and less compact but do provide a stable platform to cook. The trend is moving to integrated units like the Jetboil and although technically brilliant they are still a little inflexible.
Liquid fuel - as teenagers brought up using the Bleuet stove, we looked longingly at the bigger kids with their Coleman stoves. When we got older there was only one stove to buy and it was the baddest meanest loudest stove in the valley; the MSR XGK. Since then there have been loads of new stoves on the market, even a few that run on both gas and liquid fuel. The advantages of these types of stoves is that almost without fail you can get them to work. Drop them, set fire to them, clog them full of dirty fuel and you can still get them to work. Having said that, don't try Gin. We tried that once; it doesn't work.
Double burners - this is the luxury end of the market and comes closet to replicating the set up you have at home. They almost always run on the blue Calor Gas you see at garages, you have to pay a small deposit, but the gas is cheaper than the small pay as you go canisters. They almost always run on Calor gas although you can get some that run on liquid fuel, for most circumstances you just cannot beat the convenience of a steady double burner. Ones with full windshields keep the worst of the wind out, but we do have a soft spot for the Royal Double Burner Cast Iron Gas Stove. I think you could buy one of these and still be using it in 50 years.
Barbecues and open fires - there is nothing like cooking on an open fire, but given that most UK camping is done on campsites the use of the open fire is quite restricted. This usually means that people resort to the disposable barbecue which, although convenient, is something we should move away from, not just from environmental perspective but also from a culinary one. These one-hit BBQs are difficult to regulate, so the food is either well overcooked or horribly underdone. There are now loads of smaller BBQs on the market, but the Japanese seem to have a good hold on this type of product with the Grilletto and the Yakatori grill being uber cool and still able to cook a decent burger.
If money is no object then a Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet could just be what you are after, although I'm not sure they will fit in the boot of most cars.
There some really cool little bits and pieces if you know where to look, here are some of our favourite camping accessories:
Don't be afraid to buy stuff from non camping shops. Ikea did some plastic serving spoons and forks that were dead cheap and as good as anything else with MSR written on it. The discount shops are good for plastic plates in funky colours, TK Max always has some neat utensils. Silicone tongs seem to work just as well stirring soup as they do turning sausages.
Our friends at Cool Camping have drawn up a pretty good list of camping cooking necessities. A more comprehensive list can be found in their book Cool Camping Cookbook. If you don't buy the book do take a chopping board and some basic seasoning stuff from your pantry. You may also want to check out Guy Rope Gourmet for even more ideas.
Happy campside cooking!
See the results of our One Pot Wonders competition.
Snap Up This Offer! Buy a titanium knife, fork and spoon Snapwire set and save £4.50. Just drop all three into your Alpbag and let the computer do the rest.
For outdoor cooking you need 4 things:
You need to choose this stuff carefully, the right choice means you can eat like a king the wrong choice means the chippy gets a few more of your hard earned pennies, or worse still a winter bivi fuelled by fruit bonbons rather than a belly full of yummy hot soup.
The choices are simple depending on what you are doing.
Titanium is found every where, even moon rock contains it. Our camping cookware is made almost predominantly from titanium, despite its high cost this has some notable advantages for the lightweight backpacker. Being a non-porous metal it has a naturally non-stick surface. This means you will need less oil or water to cook your food in, that is cool because water is heavy to carry and anyway it drains all the flavours out of your food. It is non-toxic and you will also spend less time trying to scrape your pots clean.
All of our titanium cookware is available online in our camp cooking department.