M2 Outdoor Cooking

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Open fires, light weight camping stoves and Barbeques are all covered in this activity to cook effectively outdoors. Taken from the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack, Skills, Life Skills M2


Activity 1
• Enough “barbecuing space” for the number of young people taking part
• Sufficient food — hamburgers, sausages etc. or thin cuts of meat (minute steaks, pork escallops, small chicken breasts, tuna steaks etc.). You’ll need some bread, salad, sauces etc. as accompaniment.
• Long utensils, plates, cutlery etc.
• Barbecue
Disposable barbecues are a good, inexpensive means of providing sufficient for everyone. These are in the form of a foil tray, filled with charcoal and with a metal mesh cooking surface. Be aware, however that they will need to be placed on a suitable surface (e.g. paving slab, bricks, bare earth); they become very hot in operation and could provide an ignition source for inflammable surfaces (e.g. wooden tables).

Activity 2
• A number of pen knifes or small sheath knives will be useful
• Have the group search for straight sticks around 1m-1 1/2m in length, and 1-2cm thick
• Good quality aluminium foil
• Sufficient food for the group — large thick frankfurter / bockwurst sausages (these are best as they are normally pre-cooked), bread or croissant dough (prepare beforehand or buy chilled), bananas, chocolate, large apples, crumble-mix (prepare beforehand with sultanas and cinnamon), butter
• An apple-corer, utensils, plates, cutlery etc.

Activity 3
• As many different types of camping stove as you can assemble (e.g. Gas, Meths, Gel Petrol/Spirit, Paraffin, Solid Fuel etc.)
• Fuel for the above
• Matches
• Suitable cooking pots for the above
• Water
• Spoons
• Sufficient bowls I plates / cutlery for each young person
• Sufficient food that can be easily warmed up (e.g. tins of sausages & beans — no raw meat!)
• Tin openers
• Hot soapy water, dish cloths, pot scourers, dish towels etc. (for cleaning up)
• Outdoor Cooking: Stores’ template.

You may be able to assemble a good assortment of different stoves just by asking around. Some of the young people may have their own. Try to get hold of a Greenheat stove, or fuel cell for a trangia.

You should have a fire extinguisher and / or a fire blanket on hand. A supply of cold water may also be useful in case of minor bums / scalds.


Activity 1 - Barbecues

Aim: The use of barbecues In outdoor cooking.


• Split the young people into smaller groups (up to 3 per group) — the same number as you have barbecues (note that disposable barbecues are quite small, so 1 between 2 may be a better ratio). And explain that we’re going to cook a simple meal using the barbecues.
• Distribute barbecues & fuel to each group. Demonstrate how to add fuel (where appropriate), and how to light the stove. Explain that charcoal barbecues require some time to reach the correct temperature (the flames die back and the charcoal turns white). NEVER add petrol or other flammable liquids (including barbecue lighter fluid) to a lit barbecue.
• Allow the groups to light their barbecues (be on hand to help with this) and leave to heat up.
• While waiting, spend some time preparing the food (you may wish to prepare salad, butter bread / rolls, marinade meat etc.). Take time beforehand to ensure that everyone has washed their hands, and to stress the importance of good hygiene practices. Pay particular attention to raw meat — this MUST be kept away from cooked meat, salads, bread etc. Used marinade must be disposed of carefully, and hands washed after handling raw meat. Explain the importance of separate utensils and chopping boards.
• Supervise the groups as they cook the meat, taking care that it is cooked thoroughly (use a skewer to check that juices are clear, and cut steaks or larger pieces of meat to ensure that they are not pink inside). Take care with sausages, that may burn quickly before cooking through.

Tips / Advice:
• If you have a large group, set the barbecues out in advance — each will need to be set up on stable flat ground with sufficient space around.

• Make sure that you check for vegetarians BEFORE you buy the food. There are many suitable alternatives to meat (vegetables such as butternut squash or aubergine can be roasted on the barbecue and provide a tasty alternative to vegetarian sausages etc.). It would also be a good idea to check for allergies, dislikes and “fussy eaters” too. Better still, get the young people to choose the food themselves (but don’t be afraid to tempt them to try something new).

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
• Fuels and flames must be treated with the greatest respect. Ensure that there is sufficient adult supervision at all times.
• Ensure That no loose clothing or hair conies in contact with flame or hot surfaces.
• Wherever possible, avoid using liquid barbecue lighter fuel, and NEVER spray this on lighted barbecues.
• NEVER use petrol or other fuels to light a barbecue.
• Solid firelighters are poisonous — take appropriate precautions. In particular, if using firelighters, ensure that the young people wash their hands before handling food.

Activity 2 - Camp Fire Cooking

Aim: The use of camp fires In outdoor cooking.

• If not already burning, light the fire. If the group didn’t participate in making the fire, explain briefly how it was built. Explain safety precautions and set rules.
• While the fire is taking hold, have the group prepare the food:
— Wrap sausages in bread dough, or ready-prepared croissant dough.
— Core The apples and stuff with the crumble-mix. Double-wrap in foil (add a little butter inside the foil) -
— Without peeling The bananas, slit them open length-ways and fill the cavity with pieces of chocolate. Squeeze back together and wrap tightly in several layers of foil.
• Have The group sharpen both ends of The sticks. The sausages are cooked by placing them on The end, and positioned close to the fire. The other end of the stick is stuck into the ground. These will need to be monitored / turned to make sure they cook evenly and don’t burn.
• The apples and bananas are placed in the embers at the bottom of the fire (the apples require longer and hotter cooking than the bananas — but cooking times are really trial-and-error (try 5 minutes for the bananas and 15 for the apples).
• Once cooked, sit round the fire, enjoy the food and tell stories (or sing songs)!

Tips / Advice:
• This works well as an evening activity — if it will be dark before you finish, ensure you’ve plenty or torches, and make sure the area round the fire is kept completely clear.
• If you’re going to tell stories, a little preparation helps (and remember you may not be able to read if it’s dark) — if you plan to sing songs, try to learn some beforehand.
• Make sure that you check for vegetarians and food preferences BEFORE you buy the food, and choose suitable alterative.
• This is an introduction to cooking on an open fire; you may wish to combine this session with building the fire as an evening activity at camp; or prepare the fire beforehand, ready for lighting at the start of the session. If using as an evening activity, ensure the group is warmly dressed as it can feel quite cold when not close to the fire. You may also wish to make arrangements for a hot drink.

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
• Fires must be treated with the greatest respect. Ensure that there is sufficient leader supervision at all times.
• Ensure that no loose clothing or hair comes in contact with flames or hot surfaces.
• NEVER use petrol or other fuels to light a fire.
• Solid firelighters are poisonous — take appropriate precautions. In particular, if using firelighters, ensure that the young people wash their hands before handling food.
• Care should be taken when using knives or other sharp tools. Take care with sharpened sticks.

Activity 3 - Small Stoves

Aim: To explore the use, advantages and disadvantages of different types of camping stove.

• Split the young people into smaller groups (up to 3 per group) — the same number as you have stoves. And explain that we’re going to investigate the merits of several different types of camping stove. Ask if any are familiar with particular types and try to ensure that they get to experience a different type if possible.

• Distribute stoves and fuel to each group. This could be done by putting each stove/fuel in a bag and asking the groups to each choose a bag (without knowing the contents). Alternatively, you could set the stoves out before-hand and allocate groups to stoves. DO NOT DISTRIBUTE MATCHES AT THIS POINT.

• Explain briefly the features of each type of stove, and by going round the groups, get the young people to fill the stoves with fuel as appropriate. ENSURE THERE ARE NO NAKED FLAMES WHILE This IS BEING DONE.

• Once all stoves are ready, ensure all remaining fuel is closed and safely put away then distribute the matches.

• If time allows, distribute ¼ litre of water to each group, and explain that we will assess each stove to see how long it takes to boil the water.

• Discuss the effects of temperature, weather and altitude on the stoves and the cooking process.

• Distribute food, and ask the young people to heat up and serve.

• Whilst enjoying the food, discuss the relative merits of each stove. Which was fastest? Which was most controllable? Which was easiest to use? Which is easiest to carry (remembering that you need to carry fuel too)? You could ask the group to score or rank each stove against different criteria.

• Don’t forget the dishes — but once the stoves are cool, help the young people to clean and put away the stoves and pans.

Tips / Advice:
Have a look at the ‘Outdoor Cooking: Stores’ template for more information.

Safety Issues I
Risk Assessment:
• Adequate supervision is key. Risks involved as with all cooking activities include hot foods / liquids and heat sources, and food hygiene considerations.
• Particular risks relate to the safe use of matches and different fuels. Be particularly careful that stoves are not used near tents or other inflammable materials, and that clothing and hair is kept away from sources of ignition. All fuels are inflammable — but some are more volatile than others. All fuels are poisonous to a greater or lesser degree, and appropriate hygiene should be employed at all times. Be aware of the following considerations:
— Solid Fuel:
This is relatively inert, and requires a little effort to set alight. Take care in handling, and always wash hands thoroughly afterwards. Be aware also that, once lit, the flame is difficult to control, and can be smoky.
— Greenheat Gel:
This is a safer, and easier to handle alternative to meths for Trangia-type stoves, and also comes as a cooker — as an alternative to solid fuel; but take care when handling — particularly as the tin becomes hot.
— Paraffin:
This once common fuel was used in Primus & Optimus Stoves. It is less volatile than the other liquids, and will not burn unless pre-heated. If using this type of stove, supervise closely, as the fuel tends to flare and spurt until the optimum temperature is reached.
— Methylated Spirit:
This fuel is highly volatile, and burns with a flame that is invisible in sunlight, and difficult to see in daylight. As with all liquid fuels, spillage is a possibility.
— Unleaded Petrol / Coleman Fuel:
These are highly volatile, and produce noxious, inflammable vapours. They should always be stored in small quantities in a suitable container, and only be handled in a well-ventilated area, away from sources of ignition. Stoves that use these fuels usually employ a heating loop, where the fuel passes along a metal tube, through the flame to heat the mixture. while a petrol/air mix will bum without pre-heating (unlike paraffin), it benefits greatly from heating, and may flare a little until The tube heats up.
— Butane / Propane:
These gases are explosive when mixed with air. They are stored under pressure in canisters. Take care when changing an empty canister: this should only be done outdoors, well away from sources of ignition. Dispose of empty gas canisters sensibly. Note that while some stoves use re sealable canisters, that can be removed (with care) while gas remains; others (e.g. Camping Gaz) have a device to puncture the sealed gas canister — which should not be removed until completely empty.


  • company
  • discoverer
  • Life skills
  • Outdoor Cooking
  • skills

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