Eating in the great outdoors is certainly a unique treat. Cooking utensils are a very important (and sometimes annoying) part of camping. If you want them to last until next season, you will have to know how to care for camping cookware.
If you’re just starting out, chances are your cookware is nothing fancy. I know when I first started camping I had mostly secondhand items or cookware from my home I no longer cared about. “Throw it in with the camping stuff!” I would say.
But over the years, I have slowly invested in some good cookware. Depending on what type of camping you are doing will determine what type of cookware you need, but regardless of this, you have to protect your cookware as much as possible.
I know that backpackers have to be really careful about the cookware they bring, needing to pack small and light. Of course, this means this type of cookware can get pricey. This is why you want to take good care of your camping cookware!
How to Care for Camping Cookware
Use the Right Utensils
When using your cookware at the campsite, be careful of scratching the surface and use rubber or coated utensils to stir your food. When it comes time to wash them, you may find that food sticks easily to your cookware. There is still no need to scrape the bottom. Place a couple of cups of water in your pot and leave it to simmer while you are eating. You will find that the food that is stuck to your pot will come off a lot easier once you are ready to wash them.
Metal cookware seems to be popular for camping due to being so lightweight, especially titanium (can be up to 45% lighter than steel and aluminium). There are some precautions you should take with metal cookware to ensure you do not end up with scratches and dents, such as avoiding abrasive cleaning and scraping.
Try not to let your pot boil dry when camping. This could damage it, and you may never be able to restore it back to normal. When packing your cookware, place a paper towel between each piece.
Teflon-coated cookware is ideal for keeping your food from sticking, often known as non-stick pans. These types of cookware should be wrapped individually and used with care.
The biggest problem with Teflon is that you cannot touch its surface with any sharp utensils; do not try cutting up any food with a knife in a Teflon pot. You will ruin your pot in an instant. Teflon should not be let boil dry, or it can leave stains that you may not be able to remove.
When cleaning, avoid any kind of abrasive items such as steel wool or scouring pads. Use a soft sponge or dishcloth with some soap to clean. If things get stuck, your best bet is to soak dishes in warm soapy water before scrubbing gently again.
Although cast iron is one of the heavier metals, it is the best for camping cookware. The first time you use it, you will want to wash it in hot soapy water to get rid of factory residue or any rust if bought second-hand. Yes, you can wash it! If you take good care of your cast iron pan, you will only need to wash it once or twice a year.
Before using cast iron, you have to soak it with a grease coating to make sure it is well seasoned and ready to cook in. When you use your cast iron cookware and food gets stuck at the bottom, you can still place water in it and let it simmer. After you clean your pot, you will have to coat it with grease again to keep it in good shape.
Whenever you store your cast iron, ensure it is 100% dry before you stack or hang it. You want to avoid rust at all costs! Adding a layer of paper towel when storing against your cast iron is very helpful in keeping away moisture away.
Camping Cookware Cleaning Tips
Since we’re Mother Nature’s guests, we want to be respectful while cleaning. It’s like that your dirty dishwater is going to go straight back into the earth when you’re done with it. Always use biodegradable soap so you’re not impacting the local ecosystem. Use the campsite greywater disposal if they have one. If not, dump your water away from where you are sleeping and eating and at least 200 feet from any water source.
For tougher stains, avoid the use of chemicals. Instead, pack some baking soda and vinegar (if you have the room) to help with soaking.
Avoid cooking over the campfire as it will damage your cookware and cause soot which can be difficult to remove. When scrubbing away tough stains, avoid the use of abrasive materials.
And if you hate dishes, consider using paper plates and other compostable materials whenever possible. Keeping dishes to a minimum means you can have more time for all the fun camping activities!
These are just a few of the ways on how to take care of cookware that you can use while camping. Each type calls for care of some sort or another. Read the instructions that come with your cookware for tips on maintaining it. Happy cooking!