What cooking tools can’t you live without?
Your state-of-the-art food processor and slow cooker? How about your cast iron cookware and trusty chef’s knife?
These nifty gizmos definitely make your overall kitchen life easier. But sadly, they won’t always be at your disposal.
In a survival situation, you won’t always have the option to access your top-notch kitchen utensils and whip up a gourmet meal. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely switch to a creepy crawly diet just yet.
You can still cook up a tasty meal sans your precious pots and pans, fancy gas-powered stove, or microwave. And the key is going back to basics...like caveman basic.
Primitive Cooking Tools
Long before we enjoyed the conveniences of non-stick cookware and modern cutlery, our ancestors turned to nature and improvised with whatever was available to prep their meals.
And if you’re serious about prepping, you gotta be ready to do the same too and be able to work with primitive cooking tools when the need arises. The meals you create out of these tools may not exactly be worthy of a Michelin star, but at least you won’t go hungry!
When you’re out in the wild bereft of any modern cooking implement, anything has the potential to become a kitchen tool. A sturdy branch, for instance, can be used so you can practice the age-old technique of spit cooking.
When DIYing a spit, choose a long and strong branch from hardwood trees such as maple, blueberry, and basswood. They’re great picks because they’re locally abundant and tend to have a neutral aroma. Bamboo works just fine as well.
Here are some pointers for making your own spit:
- Only use a green, wet branch for spit cooking. Dry branch will burn easily and could drop your meal straight to the fire.
- Make sure to trim off all the side branches and twigs and pare off the bark.
- If you don’t have wires to secure the meat, use vines or bamboo skewers instead.
- You would also need forked sticks to support your spitted roast. To do this, get two Y-shaped branch forms that are at least 1-inch in diameter. Leave plenty of wood at the bottom so you can drive them into the soil and let them stand upright.
Aluminum foil is a versatile culinary tool that can be used for practically all types of dishes--from baking fish and steaming vegetables, to grilling meat. But when you run out of your trusty tin foil, fret not because your next best alternative may just be within reach: large leaves!
Large leaves especially banana, burdock, or grape, can be used to wrap food before cooking them over a pile of hot coals. And when bamboo is hard to come by for holding and boiling water, you can also grab some leaves to make water safe for drinking!
The world’s largest grass, bamboo is a versatile resource that can be used in a variety of ways. It has greater tensile strength than steel, has crazy growth spurts, and is one of the most eco-friendly materials on the planet! It’s predominantly found in Asia (most notably China), but some species also grow in Australia, sub-Saharan Africa, and North and South America.
So how amazing is bamboo exactly? Well, you can use it to boil, steam, and roast your tasty, SHTF eats! You can also use it to carry water. But take note that only green, fresh-cut bamboo culms (or stem) with inside diameters of 1.75 inches or larger are ideal for use as cooking vessels.
You can cut bamboo to an appropriate length using a fine-toothed saw, a machete, or large knife. You can also improvise to make bamboo cookers for specific purposes. But before proceeding, get familiar with these terms first:
- Internodes are the hollow sections of the bamboo culm, where you can put water or the meat you’re cooking.
- Nodes, meanwhile, are the solid joints that separate the internodes. These joints act as air- and watertight barriers. On the outside, they appear as little bumps encircling the circumference of the bamboo culm.
Here are a few examples on how you can create your own bamboo cooker:
For boiling water
Get a bamboo culm consisting of one or two sections. Keep both the top and bottom joints intact, and make a slight hole at the center where you can fill in the water. Place the bamboo on the fire and let it boil.
You can also make a vertical cooker with the top joint open and the bottom intact. You can create a V-shaped point at the end part of the bottom joint so you can easily secure the container on the ground, without having to lean it on something.
For roasting meat
To roast fish or other meat, all you need are wide bamboo skewers. Stick the opposite end of the bamboo deeply into the ground so the meat is held above the flame.
For cooking rice
You can also cook rice-based meals with bamboo. Here’s how the Aboriginal people of the Philippines make one: First, you need a tightly fitted rectangle-shaped lid for your rice cooker. You can use a hacksaw (or a bolo knife in the Philippines) to cut and shape the lid. Next, push the lid out, and load the rice and water in. Put the lid back on place it over the fire for about 20 minutes. And voila! You’re all set. You can also use a vertical cooker--like the one we mentioned above--for cooking rice.
No bamboo growing in your area? No worries. Get yourself some rocks instead--smooth, flat, and dry rocks, that is.
Flat rocks are a must-have tool in every primitive kitchen as they make a fine griddle for cooking meat, eggs, and yes, even bacon. Not all rocks, however, make suitable replacements for frying pans. So before plopping one over the fire, here are some things you need to remember:
- Wet rocks can explode like a grenade. So avoid picking up rocks near or out of the water! Even if you dry them under the sun, you can’t tell for sure if there’s still water trapped inside.
- A flat stone about an inch thick, with a slight depression in the surface, works best for SHTF cooking.
- Don’t use glassy-looking stones like quartz and obsidian, because these types of rocks tend to explode.
- Remember to grease your rock before cooking, or else your food will stick!
- Rock frying pans aren’t forever. After a few uses, the heat could break the rock, so better gather a few as you find them.
- Once you're done whipping up a meal, let your rock frying pan cool down on its down. Washing it immediately after cooking will cause the stone to break due to thermal shock.
Making improvised pots and pans out of bamboo and stone is wise. But what if you’re stuck in a long-term survival situation? You can’t just keep cutting trees and picking stones, can you? At times like these, it pays to know a thing or two about pottery.
Making your own pots, pans, bowls, and drinking vessels out of clay can really take a while. But they last a long time too, which means all the time and effort are totally worth it!
Here are some things to keep in mind when making your own clay pots:
- First you need to find clay--and some of the best places include river banks and creeks.
- If you gathered your clay dry, grind it into powder. When you already have the powder, you can sieve it to remove unwanted material. Add a bit of water and knead it until it's plastic.
- Before making your pot, you will also need to add sand or crushed shells and rocks to temper the clay. Adding temper will improve the quality of your work and increase its chances of survival.
- Once you have everything ready, you can then form your own pots.
- Be sure to let the pots dry for about a week or longer after you make them, and then fire them up.
When you think of survival food, canned food is the obvious choice. They’re cheap, easy to store, and widely available. But they won’t last forever, especially if you’ve got lots of hungry mouths to feed.
Anything else we missed? Let us know in the comments below!