Since human beings first discovered fire, they have been cooking without electricity or gas. Now, even though most people have access to the electricity grid, fire is still a simple, delicious, and fun way to cook food off the grid. Anyone can give it ago, and most do - in fact 75% of Americans own a barbecue and use it regularly.
But fire isn't the only effective method of off-grid cooking. The sun itself can cook a tasty meal for you with the right tools and a little bit of patience.
Here are three ingenious and flavorful ways to cook food without electricity or gas.
1. Cold Smoking
Cold smoking is an excellent way of preserving and cooking meat. It is a very old technique most often used in winter when food was scarce. Cold smoking lends itself well to meats such as salami and ham, and also to cheeses and certain vegetables. Nuts, tofu, and hard-boiled eggs are also great candidates for cold smoking. The food needs to be exposed to smoke but kept at a temperature of below 90°F. If you are cold smoking meat, it needs to be cured first in order to get rid of any bacteria. Cold smoking can take between a few hours and several days. This sounds like a long time (and it is), but keep in mind that you are preserving the food, so it will last a long time too.
For more about electric cold smokers and about cold smoking in general, you can read some reviews of the best electric cold smoke generator smoker attachments.
2. Rocket Stove
A rocket stove is a simple but very effective off-grid cooking technique. The stove works the same way as a Dakota fire pit: you burn small pieces of wood in a small combustion chamber that is connected to a steady supply of air. An insulated vertical chimney sits atop the combustion chamber.
This design creates a very high level of combustion that results in minimal smoke and an even heat (great for cooking) that reaches the cooking surface above the chimney.
Rocket stoves are very economical - not just for cooking, but for home heating as well - and can use scrap wood for fuel.
3. Solar Oven
A solar oven is an extremely effective way to cook food off the grid as no electricity, gas, or wood is required for fuel. This means it can be used anywhere that receives direct sunlight. Solar cooking requires some preparation, though, as the cooking times are longer than you're used to. For instance, rice will normally cook in 20 minutes on a stove, but in a solar oven it will take about 40. You can build your own solar oven relatively cheaply, or buy a professionally built portable solar oven for not too much more. Solar cookers are a great way to teach children about cooking, too, as they are far safer than cooking over an open fire or barbecue grill.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.