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Top Tips for Optimizing and Amplifying the Cooking Potential of a Great Fire Pit

Top Tips for Fire Pit Cooking
Top Tips for Fire Pit Cooking

Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2018
By: Sequoia Supply
Categories: Grilling & Smoking  |  Fire Pits & Fire Tables

Having a backyard fire pit is one of the top home improvement goals of homeowners in recent years. In fact, fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are the number-one most requested outdoor-living design feature today according to the American Society of Landscape Architects. Fire pits add ambiance and warmth to a cool evening, heat for cooking a snack, and a place to gather with family and friends to visit… or say nothing at all. For many, there is nothing quite as soothing as watching the dancing flames of a crackling fire.

But why stop there? Don’t get me wrong. Sitting around an awesome fire pit with the friends and beverages of your choice is a great experience that should be enjoyed by all… often. But there is more enjoyment, commingling and camaraderie to be had when you add fire cooking to the mix. Check out these top tips for optimizing and amplifying the cooking functionality of a great fire pit.

Swivel Fire Pit Cooking Grate 

INCLUDE A FIRE PIT COOKING GRATE

This is especially important to consider when building a fire pit from hardscape materials. There are multiple metal cooking grates that can enhance your hardscape or open fire pit. Perhaps the easiest are those that simply lay over the top of the pit. However, it is difficult to control the cooking temperature of these types of grates. The best and most versatile option for all types of cooking is a feature that has one or multiple grates which are suspended from and rotate around a single vertical pole secured into your fire pit hardscape surround. These permit you to swivel your grates over and away from the fire, while easily raising or lowering the grate, thereby optimally tending to the food and managing heat transfer.

NO GRATE, NO PANIC

If, for some reason, you are not able to include a grate setup in your cooking plans, that’s not a problem. Adapt, adjust, and overcome! Just like sitting around a spontaneous campfire, there are other methods of holding and heating your food safely. Skewers, tongs… a sharpened stick all work just fine for holding certain foods. A great method to use for other foods that can’t be skewered is to wrap them in aluminum foil and place them directly on the fire. Chop up chicken, steak, or fish. Place that into a foil packet with chopped vegetables and a bit of olive oil and the spices of your choice. Seal the foil by rolling up the edges so that the savory juices don’t leak out. Then, drop the foil packets directly into the coals of the fire for cooking. This technique is also excellent for making s'mores sandwiches using chocolate chip cookies! And the best part? It keeps your hands free for holding a beverage and the one close to you at the same time.

Fire Pit Cooking on Coals 

PROPER FIREWOOD SELECTION

Keep in mind that you are not cooking with tried and true charcoal or gas when using wood fire pit. And just because a fuel source burns and produces heat, most certainly doesn’t mean that the smoke and fumes that it produces are a safe source of cooking food for consumption. Dense hardwoods are best. Real, raw hardwoods including almond wood, cherry wood, hickory, oak, and mesquite deliver the most savory results. Oak, being one of the hardest and densest woods, burns hot and long and is definitely a good barbecue cooking wood, but doesn't have as much distinct flavor as the fruit woods. It does impart a strong smoky flavor though, as do hickory and mesquite. Avoid softwood pine which is extremely wet and sappy. Never use fake composite ‘logs’ which often include plastics and known carcinogens.

SAFETY FIRST

Always remember that a fire is a fire. When controlled and contained, it does what you want it to do. But a controlled fire can turn into a disaster in a heartbeat. Always err on the side of caution and keep a five-gallon bucket of water or a charged fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency. The bucket of water is also recommended for ensuring that the fire is fully extinguished after the night’s festivities are final.

Fire Pit Cooking Tips 

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Know your fire. Contrary to rookie belief, the best fire for cooking is not the one with high dancing flames. It is one that is mature with low glowing coals. In fact, the best cooking fire is comprised of primarily hot coals and just a few logs of low-flaming wood. Start your fire 30-45 minutes prior to cooking in order to create the optimal cooking conditions. A bed of glowing hot coals is ideal for great cooking and easily allows you to control the temperature for your food for the best, and most consistent results.

Tagged:Fire Pits, Fire Tables, Outdoor Cooking, Grilling, Barbecue, BBQ

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