One of the great joys of camping is cooking outdoors, whether it be over a campfire, on a Coleman stove, or a portable grill. No matter where, cooking is an opportunity to engage all the senses… The smell of ingredients as they cook. The sound of sizzle on a grill. The sight of items browning and bubbling plus the warmth of the fire. And, of course, the TASTE!
When you’re preparing food outdoors, weather becomes a big factor. It can still be fun to cook in the rain under the cover of an awning or canopy. If you’re forced to change your menu, a hot bowl of soup or mug of tea hunkered down inside a trailer on a chilly day can be fun, too. That’s all part of the adventure of camping!
Of course, rain and wind are big issues if you are relying on a campfire, and in wildfire conditions, may not be accessible at all. But a small portable stove or grill shouldn’t present a problem… or perhaps they can.
We have camped in windy conditions a number of times, especially in the shoulder seasons. To our initial surprise, it had a bigger effect on outdoor cooking than we expected. For many of us seasoned cooks, we rely on all of our senses as we prepare food, even if we’re not aware of it.
A moderate breeze can blow your sense of smell away so you have to be more mindful of ingredients burning. It can also reduce or snuff out a flame. A strong wind through the trees or active surf can rob you of sounds of sizzling or bubbling. Wind will also dissipate heat and moisture more rapidly, so food can take much longer to cook at a higher flame, even in relatively warm summer temperatures. Cold temperatures will mean that you’ll go through a lot more fuel, making meals that require shorter cooking times more preferable.
Here are our best tips for cooking during windy events:
- Always check with the park or district first to make sure there are no burn bans and it is safe to have an open flame outdoors
- Orient your cooking surface in the area most protected from wind taking advantage of the natural topography or your tent/trailer as a wind-break
- Use the heat-safe wind shield that many portable stoves & grills come with to protect your flame
- Be prepared for longer cooking times
- Be prepared to use more fuel
- Use lids to keep heat and moisture from escaping, especially glass ones you can see through
- Keep an eye on your food and flame closely for burning or snuff-out
- Have alternate menu plans that are quick to heat like a can of soup or chili, or don’t require cooking at all
- ALWAYS make sure you pick up any items that can blow away and extinguish all flames
- Winnie-the-Pooh would add, “Avoid camping on Winds-days.”
Here’s a perfect make-ahead meal for questionable weather forecasts, that requires no cooking at all: