Building an Outdoor Oven
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Building an Outdoor Oven

This is how to build an outdoor oven. Many of these ovens are still in use throughout the world.

Introduction:

An outdoor oven is used at more or less permanent campsites that are going to be occupied for a considerable time. In some places they still construct outdoor ovens for baking bread mostly on farms. Many of these ovens are still in use in the Gaspe region of Quebec. The concept of using an outdoor oven goes back for thousands of years to the days of Ancient Egypt and Babylon. This kind of oven eventually moved indoors becoming the domed oven the American Colonists built into their chimneys. Today many of these dome topped ovens are still used to bake pizzas. Baking is only done by exposing the food to a dry heat inside an oven.

Location

One of these ovens has to be properly sited so that it is away from any overhanging tree limbs or other obstacles. It should be located on a dry piece of land away from any wetlands. The area for several feet around the oven is cleared of any litter that could catch on fire. A space is leveled for the oven to be sited. The mouth of the oven is arranged so the prevailing wind does not blow directly in through the door of the oven.

Construction

The foundation the oven sets on is built of stones in a rectangular form that is about waist high and covered with clay before the core is built on top of this clay layer. Make the foundation somewhat larger then the planned oven to afford foot space to work on the oven proper.

The core of an outdoor oven is constructed from kindling and firewood so it is flush against the front of the foundation. At the end of the core on the far end from the door an upright bundle of twigs about fifteen centimeters in diameter (6 inches) is placed. This bundle of twigs is about one hundred twenty centimeters high (4 feet). This is the core of the chimney on the oven. The whole core is then covered with a layer of grass or leaves.

The core is then covered with a layer of clay about thirty centimeters thick (12 inches). The whole thing is allowed to set for a few days until the clay dries out. The core is then set on fire to harden the clay making it waterproof. When the fire goes out the oven is ready to use.

Use

In use a hot fire is lit inside the door of the oven, and is allowed to burn until the inside of the oven is hot. The fire is then raked out of the oven and the chimney is sealed. The food to be baked is placed inside the oven, and the door of the oven is sealed allowing the food to be baked.

Tips

It takes some practice to become familiar with how the oven works, an oven thermometer helps.

Cover the oven before it is fired with a tarpaulin if you can see any stormy weather.

Use only hardwoods to build the core of the oven.

Use only hardwoods to heat the oven.

Warnings

Don’t let the clay get wet before it is fired.

Keep your portions small as they might not get cooked through allowing any germs to survive.

References

Bush Craft, Mors Kochanski, 1987, www.lonepinepublishing.com

The author’s experience of building several of these ovens while prospecting in the Canadian Shield.

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