Outdoor Cooking – Wood or Charcoal

Let’s be honest – there is no special science to making great meals in the outdoors.  Generally when you are outside enjoying life and nature’s wonders, a hot cooked meal is going to taste great regardless of what was used for the fuel source.

Cooking with Coals

Benefits of Charcoal

The realities are clear though.  Cooking with Charcoal briquettes offer better heat control and thus offer a more balanced and controllable cooking experience.

You may also find that a lot of areas where you go camping there are restrictions around wood gathering.  This is one reason that charcoal helps out as you can make a small charcoal fire and not have to deal with stocking a fire with wood you bought at the park or brought from home.

Benefits of Wood Fires

For larger items an open wood fire may produce a better flame grilled taste.  Of course the various greatly on the type of cooking apparatus that you are working with.

If you are in an area with tight fire restrictions you may be confined to using a small campfire pit.  If this is the case, that means that you will be unable to have a normal wood campfire while you are cooking with briquettes.  If you try to combine your charcoal fire and dutch oven inside the same round fire pit as your wood campfire you will most likely have a meal that is burnt on one side and undercooked on the other.

Careful with Lighter Fluid

If you are cooking with charcoal – try to avoid fast starting charcoal briquettes.  Also avoid over dousing your briquettes in lighter fluid.  A little lighter fluid and a charcoal chimney starter will do just fine.

The issue with fast starting briquettes and over dousing with lighter fluid is that it causes the charcoal to burn too hot, too fast.  Then they burn out a lot faster then you want.

From a general standpoint, the higher quality (non pre-treated) charcoal you use, the longer and more consistent burning briquette you will get.  it may take it a little longer to heat up initially, so plan ahead and you will be glad you did.

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