Finding food in the wild is one thing; cooking it is another challenge altogether. The whole ordeal might be easier if you’re a prepper who had the foresight to bring some handy pots and pans, but when you’re a little bit down on your supplies, you have to know how to cook your food as they did back then.
Way, way, way back then.
Primitive cooking is something folks hardly do these days, even when out camping. These methods date to man’s early days on the planet, after all. However, it’s important to know that these super basic cooking methods were used by our ancestors to survive. When we’re stripped of our basic modern comforts, it pays to know a primitive cooking method or two.
In this post, we’ve listed 9 great primitive cooking tutorials to help you sharpen those cooking skills:
Grilling, Broiling, or Cooking on a Spit
When people say “primitive cooking,” the most common thing that comes to mind is a piece of meat on a stick, cooked over an open fire. The assumption is pretty understandable: grilling, broiling, or spit roasting is one of the easiest and fastest ways to cook food in the wild.
There might be some subtle differences in the terms (grilling is when you cook food from heat down below, broiling is when the heat source is from above, and cooking on a spit…well, it basically means using a skewer and rotating the protein), but at the end of the day, the meat gets cooked all the same.
The trick to this primitive cooking method is in finding good pieces of wood to use. Since pans come in short supply in the wilderness, you’ll have to make your own broiling or grilling rack from supple branches of trees like river birch. If you’re planning to skewer the meat instead, some sturdy forked branches should do the job pretty nicely, just like in the video above.
Ash cooking is one of the oldest and most common primitive cooking methods known to man.
This method usually involves wrapping meat (usually fish) in large leaves (banana, grape, or burdock do really well) before cooking them over a bed of hot coals. In this video, however, the survivalists from Native Survival made some adjustments to this favorite cooking method.
First, they prepared a nice piece of cod, then seasoned and wrapped it in several burdock leaves. However, instead of putting the wrapped fish directly over the coals, they dug a hole right beside their campfire and put the hot coals there. That’s also where they put their fish. After that, they buried the wrapped fish under another layer of ash and coals. And just like that, they effectively made a “leaf oven.”
This primitive cooking method is a great way to utilize dry heat, which evenly cooks the food. The leaves are actually a great way to lock the flavors as well as the moisture in. Just make sure you’re using edible leaves—you don’t wanna wrap your food in something poisonous.
Cooking Using Bamboo Tubes
The bamboo plant grows abundantly in nice, warm climates and has been a huge part of many civilizations and cultures, especially in Asia. Because of its versatility, bamboo is often used in many aspects of life in the tropics, cooking included. Small bamboo shoots are edible, but their larger, full-grown counterparts are often used as reservoirs of food in this part of the world.
In the video above, you’ll see how this kid cooks a whole fish using a bamboo tube. First, he cuts a piece of the tube to make room for the fish. Then he seasons the fish, stuffs it in the tube, covers the tube with the piece he cut out, and then cooks it over a fire.
Hot Rock Boiling
Having clean and safe water is essential for survival. But how do you accomplish this when you don’t have any metal pots or reservoirs?
Hot rock boiling is a pretty simple but effective way to boil water in the wild.
Smooth, dry and egg-sized rocks are ideal for this primitive cooking method. It’s important that you use really dry rocks for this purpose—use wet ones, and they’ll basically implode. You’ll want to heat them up in the fire for around 30 minutes before plopping them into your water reservoir.
With a little bit of imagination, hot rocks can be used in a variety of ways outside water purification. In the video above, you’ll see that these hot rocks were used to cook freshwater shrimps. Yum.
Ovens are very much a part of a modern, 21st-century kitchen, but did you know that the earliest known ovens date back to 20,000 BC? If you’re stuck somewhere with lots of good clay deposits, you can venture into making a clay oven of your own. This might take a bit of time, though, as it needs to dry for several days. Creating this type of clay oven is more of a long-term solution.
An easier alternative would be to create a primitive hillside oven just like the video above, using some flat slabs of rock. That way, you can simply fire it up and eat some good food all in one day.
Hot Stone Cooking
Our forebears might not have had the advantages of modern technology, but they sure were smart. They discovered early on that rocks and stones were great conductors of heat. This video basically demonstrates that concept by using a nice, flat slab of rock to grill some juicy bacon and stuffed bannocks. It’s like a griddle straight out of the Stone Age.
The flat surface of the rock is ideal because it allows for a relatively even distribution of heat. Be careful in choosing your slab, though. As mentioned earlier, some rocks can break apart or even implode due to extreme heat.
Make Some Clay Pots
Why is clay so common in primitive cooking?
Well, pottery was a major milestone in human evolution, for one. It basically marked the age when people stopped moving from place to place to hunt for food. If you’re facing a long-term survival situation, it might be wise to learn pottery. You can create pots, pans, bowls, and water reservoirs from clay, and they’ll last for a dang long time as well.
If you don’t have time to fire up a primitive kiln, maybe you can just wrap a chunk of meat in some burdock leaves and smother them in clay. It doesn’t sound conventional, but this method actually uses a concept similar to the leaf oven.
Snails Over Fire
Well, this primitive cooking method is as old-school as it can get. Critters like snails have a protective shell, so you can just harvest, clean, and then throw them into a bed of hot coals. It’s that simple. Bon appetit!
Scientists don’t exactly know when man started cooking, but current theories suggest that primitive cooking may have paved the way for the evolution of the species itself.
If you’re a prepper, you might have the proper implements with you. You might not even need to make a kiln or stuff some chicken in bamboo. But you know what they say, it’s always better to have a skill but not need it—instead of having none in a situation that calls for it. At the end of the day, having sharp primitive cooking skills may save your life, so it’s always best to hone that skill.
Any other primitive cooking method we missed? Let us know in the comments below!