Camping & Survival

Survival Cooking

Stansport Cast Iron Cook Set

I’m not ashamed to admit it. Aside from shooting, hunting and fishing, I have another almost as obsessive of a hobby—I like eating. More accurately, I like cooking and eating. However, you won’t catch me watching Paula Deen while baking butter cookies and listening to Michael Bublé. I eat like a man; therefore, I cook like a man. Few things are more satisfying than frying up some venison that was walking around on four hooves only a week before, or wrapping some dove with juicy bacon and jalapeño just before tossing it on a red-hot grill. I don’t claim to be an expert chef but I know what I like and I can prepare it from start to finish. I’m not sure why, but wild game you bothered to dispatch yourself seems to taste twice as good. It must be some prehistoric caveman thing we dudes never bothered shaking from the gene pool. In a world where public schools and institutions try to curb manly behaviors and tendencies, I’m proud to say I can still literally bring home the bacon—it’s just usually attached to a wild hog and bleeding all over the bed of my truck.

Ultimate Survival Gear

Stansport Cast Iron Cook Set
Stansport Cast Iron Cook Set
As with any hobby, there are tools of the trade that go along with cooking what you kill. If you are a prepper or survivalist, you are probably very familiar with  cast iron. It is inexpensive, durable, and with proper care it will last several lifetimes. I’m still using my grandfather’s cast iron gear I inherited while in college. It is the ultimate survival SHTF cookware. The amazing thing about cast iron is that is that it holds on to heat for a very long time and tends to cook more evenly over open flame. That’s right, you don’t have to have electricity to cook with this stuff. Just stick it over a campfire and you’ve got yourself a 19th century commercial kitchen. If the western civilization falls, you’ll still be able to fry an egg.

NOTE: Never put one of those cheap Teflon pans over a campfire. They get excessively hot and the Teflon will actually burn off into your food. I don’t know what eating Teflon will do to you, but I’d rather not find out. A red-hot stove on high gets about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. A large campfire can blast over 1500 degrees. Cast iron doesn’t care how hot it gets until you get well above 2000 degrees.

What’s up With Seasoning?

Most cast iron sets you buy today are pre-seasoned. No, it doesn’t mean someone poured paprika and thyme all over your pan. A seasoned piece of cast iron cookware merely has a thin layer of stick-resistant polymerized fat and oil on the surface. This semi-permanent layer of fat serves two purposes: it keeps the food from sticking to the pan and protects your ironware from rusting. Iron, as you know, rusts very easily. However, a thin layer of fat or oil will prevent the oxidation process—just like the thin layer of gun oil on your firearms. It doesn’t take much and your gear will last well into the apocalypse.

No Dishwasher?

Salting Cast Iron
Salting Cast Iron
No, do not put anything cast iron in the dishwasher. The enemy of cast iron is moisture. You will most likely ruin it with one cycle. It will turn into a huge block of rust almost immediately. Never use soap to clean cast iron unless you’re about to re-season it. I usually clean cast iron by pouring some kosher salt into the pan and scrubbing it out with a paper towel. The salt will turn brown from soaking up the excess grime. Just remember to rinse all the salt out when you’re done cleaning. At this point, dry the iron with a towel on all sides. Throw it on a warm burner to make sure it is dry and pour a small amount of oil on the pan. Take a paper towel and make sure you cover as much of the inside of the pan as you can while wiping out the excess. This will prevent your perfectly seasoned and clean gear from rusting.

Cast iron as a survival tool is a time tested strategy. It has been a mainstay in every pre-electric kitchen since the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. With only a little fat or oil and a heat source, you can cook just about any type of food you can get your hands on. If the power grid ever goes down for an extended period, you can turn your living room fireplace into a hearth and still eat like a king. No prepper has a complete collection of gear until they can feed themselves from something other than a dehydrated baggie. Buy iron and keep it forever.

Do you use cast iron when cooking? What is your favorite wild game recipe? Tell us in the comment section.

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Comments (4)

  1. I once carelessly left two cast iron pans in the oven during a “clean” cycle. When everything cooled down they were clean shiny iron, with about a tablespoon of clean clear oil in each one. They were easier to re-season than when I first bought them.

    1. @Tom: To re-season your cast iron, it’s the same process as when you buy it new. Make sure your pan is clean and dry. Thoroughly coat the pan with a thin layer of lard or shortening (Crisco makes shortening and it’s in a can); if you cannot find lard or shortening, use an oil like canola or peanut. Place it in an oven that is preheated to 450 for about an hours (it may smoke a little, but that’s ok). After the hour is up, turn the oven off and leave the pan inside until it is completely cool—maybe go to the range and do some shooting while you wait. You should be go to go! ~CTD Donna

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