Episode 6: Cooking with gas

Total fire bans are a fact of life in Australia and most, if not all, camping areas have long periods when there is a ban on the use of open fires. During those times, cooking with gas is the food preparation method of choice.

LPG powered camping stoves are by far the most common camping stoves and they come in a variety of sizes ranging from large three burner units suitable to car camping to tiny hiking stoves that disappear into a coffee cup. It’s entirely possible to replicate any meal you cook on your gas range at home with the quality of enclosed gas burners available today. Make sure your equipment (stove and gas bottle) is well maintained and the gas bottle is safely stored in a place it can’t get too hot. Clear the cooking area of anything flammable including leaves for an area of five meters surrounding the stove, or as best as can be achieved. Take extra precautions if it’s hot and windy and teach kids to be cautious when stoves are in use.

The larger camping stoves are effectively as powerful and adjustable as your home gas stove and anything you can do at home you can do at the campground - the only limit is your imagination and your supply of gas! You can even source camping ovens that fit onto a gas stove if you feel the need to bake in the bush. Pasta sauces, curries, stews and grilled meats are all classic camping foods, bacon and eggs are generally in high demand in the mornings and you can even get cheap and effective toasters to position over the burners. One of the better options is the breakfast wrap using flat breads to wrap up bacon, eggs, avocado, tomatoes...even leftovers from the night before; no need for plates so your morning wash up is a breeze.

For the lightweight hikers, cyclists and kayakers the small gas stoves and liquid fuel stoves such as the all-time classic, methylated spirits burning Trangia are the preferred options. They are often packed as a cooking system with stove, pots, plates and cups all fitting into one compact unit. While the size is a challenge the only limitation is again imagination and the weight of ingredients on self-supported camping trips without the weight bearing ability of a vehicle. Often the primary function of this style of stove is heating water to add to dehydrated meals or for cooking rice and pasta. Of course if you’re really lucky and you are near a river or the beach there is always the chance of some fresh fish!

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