If and when you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, there are naturally going to be a few things you need to handle almost immediately. While finding shelter and water are two of the most important things one can do when stranded, the need for food will, after some time, be one that must be fulfilled. Seeing as you will more than likely find yourself unexpectedly stranded, the cooking tools you may normally take for granted will simply not be available for you to make use of.
Cooking when in survival mode is something most people will never have to do, but luckily it is also something most anyone is capable of doing. Since the earliest days of man, cooking and feeding one’s self has been a rudimentary part of life, and is one that is not very difficult to learn. By following the techniques that will be elaborated upon in the following few sections, feeding yourself when stuck in the wilderness will not be such an insurmountable task.
Use What Nature Provides
Before you can begin cooking anything, you will need supplies with which you can hold food and eat it. The simplest supplies such as a bowl and spoon are not at all difficult to find nor time-consuming to put together with supplies that are readily available in the wild. Before you can even think about fashioning cups, bowls, or spoons, however, you will need to first craft a suitable fire. Fire is great for warmth and cooking, but it is also an essential tool for crafting the utensils and containers you will need to cook and store your food.
Best Types of Wood
Once you have created a suitable fire, your next task is to patrol the immediate area in search of a large piece of wood that will be suitable for crafting a bowl or other wooden container. The log or piece of wood you intend to make use of should be large, but not rotten or otherwise spoiled. As a point of reference, try to pick a piece of wood that can be carved or formed to fit at least a few quarts of liquid.
Hardwoods like pine, hickory, and oak are the best for crafting liquid-holding utensils and cooking supplies, but any type of wood will do so long as it does not originate from a tree that is poisonous or otherwise harmful.
Building a Fire
After you’ve found your desired piece of lumber, take a sharp rock and chip away the bark as to make a relatively flat surface. Once you have created a flat surface, scoop up some embers from the fire and place them on the wood. By carefully providing the embers with oxygen, the coals will burn downward and naturally carve out a bowl in the wood. Embers being placed on harder woods will take a little while (1-2 hours) in order to burn a sizeable bowl, but after carefully applying heat for a suitable amount of time you should find that your wooden bowl/pot is coming along nicely.
Once you have burnt a deep enough depression into the face of the wood or log, you can then use your sharp rock to scoop and chip out the charred bits of wood. Then, to bring things to a conclusion, you should grab a smooth, rounded rock and sand the inside of the bowl as to make it more uniform and less splintery. You can repeat this process over and over on a number of different sized pieces of woods in order to craft as many cooking containers as need.
Also, on a much smaller scale, similar steps can be followed in order to craft a spoon safe for eating and cooking with.
How to Cook in the Wilderness
The most important steps to take before cooking food, especially animals, out in the wild are the steps of disemboweling the animal, skinning it, and checking it for any diseases or other abnormalities. While figuring out what is normal and what is abnormal may not be as cut and dry as most people make it sound, an unhealthy animal is generally easy to decipher from a healthy one.
With that in mind, even if you killed or came across an unhealthy animal, you can still use it as bait to capture a creature that is safe to eat. This advice doesn’t only pertain to animals either, as certain plants require heat in order to kill off harmful parasites that can make it potentially dangerous for consumption.
Rock Boiling Method
One of the oldest and simplest methods of preparing most any type of food is by way of rock boiling. Rock boiling has been around for thousands of years and has proven to be successful in most any climate. It is an especially helpful method of preparing food if you have a container that is unable to be heated directly by fire.
After you have a fire going, you should then collect up to ten stones that are dry and no larger than a ping-pong ball. Dry rocks are especially important as rocks that are even the slightest bit damp can store water in tiny cracks that can potentially cause the rock to explode when rapidly heated. Also, avoid sand and flint stones as they possess the potential to shatter when rapidly heated and placed into water.
After heating the rocks in the fire for 2 hours or so, place your food in your cooking pot and cover it with water. Then, using two sticks as tongs, safely remove a few rocks and place them in your pot. As you place more hot stones in the pot, the water will bubble and simultaneously cook your food. Continue heating and adding rocks as needed until your food is completely and thoroughly cooked. A good bit of advice is to always keep a few rocks in the fire so they can be interchanged without causing the temperature of your food/the pot to fluctuate dramatically.
Spit Cooking Method
Another method of preparing food is about as ancient as they come. Spit Cooking, as it is known today, is the method of food preparation you have probably seen in any movie or cartoon depicting the process of cooking a hunted animal in the wild. By retrieving a small stick or sapling (non-poisonous of course) and skewering the animal, you can safely cook it over hot coals by turning it frequently until it is cooked all the way through.
When attempting spit cooking, one of the most frequently made mistakes is that of cooking over an open flame. This may seem like the obvious way to prepare your food, but it chars the outside and doesn’t cook it thoroughly. One inevitable drawback of spit cooking is that it removes much of the nutritional value of whatever it is that you are cooking. However, in a desperate situation reduced nutrition is vastly superior to no nutrition at all.
Fry-Rock Cooking Method
Yet another method of cooking and preparing food when in the wilderness is known as fry-rock cooking. This method of cooking, as its name implies, makes use of a flat, cleaned rock as a frying pan of sorts. By supporting your frying rock with a few stones in the middle of a fire or in the coals of a fire, it will eventually heat up to a temperature hot enough to cook most anything. As is the case with spit cooking, fry-rock cooking removes many of the vital nutrients from the animal you are cooking.
These three methods of preparing and cooking food in the wild have been successfully used by man for thousands of years and have provided him with sustenance in the world’s most remote, unforgiving environments. On top of it all, these cooking methods are all able to be done by making use of the materials readily available to you in nature. By taking note of these cooking methods and putting them to use when necessary, you can survive most any perilous situation in the wilderness.