Can I cook on my stove?

can I cook on my wood burning stove

All of our Country Kiln stoves can be cooked on in an emergency - such as during a power-cut. Please note that wood burning stoves or multi fuel stoves are not a main cooking appliance. The above photo is from a customer cooking his Christmas dinner in the midst of a power cut and blizzard.

Many people want to boil a pot of water on top of their logburners. Boiling water really came into cooking with the onset of electricity in the mid 1950's. In 1953 the British Government ran educational adverts advising people to boil their water and food, to get rid of bacteria. From that advert, and from having cooked for many years using a woodburning stove in my formative culinary years, I can assess that boiling on this type of stove was not really an historic norm, more like a historic accident. Boiling is achieved by placing the pot directly on to the fire inside the stove.

Boiling water on top of a stove is more of a romantic ideal than a practical option. The stove would need to be over-fired and stoked to a great, and potentially damaging, temperature in order to bring water to the boil at any pace which is familiar to the modern householder. Do not over fire and damage your stove trying to get a speedy boil! An experienced cook on this type of stove would leave a pot of water to heat and hope to get hot water by the end of the day, just as miners’ wives, in DH Lawrence or Orwell writings, hoped there would be enough hot water on their stoves at the end of a miner’s shift for a meagre wash. In these writings the miners’ wives hoped for hot water, not boiling water - boiling water was never mentioned. Boiling a pot of water on top of any stove can take up to 8 hours. The main reason for this is the distance from the stove top to the actual coals, wood or fuel which is why the best way to boil water is by opening the stove door and placing an old pan on top of the coals. By placing a pot on top of the burning wood or coal boiling can take around the same time as boiling on a gas or electric ring, around 15 minutes.

Another way to damage a stove while trying to boil water is to place a cold pot full of cold water directly on top of a hot log burner. This can cause the cast or metal to contract really quickly, go into a shock, and crack. The sensible way to proceed when heating water on a stove is to place a large cold pot on a cold stove and take one heat from it. This enables you to heat enough water to wash dishes, shave or make a full pot of soup over the course of a day. 

Emergency Cooking in a Power Cut. 

Pies and sausage rolls can be wrapped in tin foil and heated on the top of a stove, as can fish. Baked potatoes are best wrapped in tin foil and placed in dying fire embers. Beans can be successfully heated in a pan. The best pans have a small base with wider top. Canned soup has the same issue as boiling water. The reality is liquid doesn't boil fast enough, so if you try boiling on a stove top you get a depressingly cool offering and run the risk of contracting the metal of the stove top, whereas, if you pour the soup into an old pot and place directly on the fire itself it will warm up quickly and do the job. 

A barbeque grill from your shed can give additional cooking scope placed on top of the embers of your fire. If you happen to be a decent barbeque chef, caught without electricity, and have charcoals left over from summer these can be used inside your stoves in the same way as the charcoals are used in a barbeque, on the base, the cooking method being the same as a barbie. Fire the charcoal and cook once the fire has died down.

Cooking on a solid fuel multi burner or woodburner fire is a technique totally unlike cooking on electricity. It is not an immediate thing and can be temperamental. One has to flow or gel with the fire. In some cooking sessions the fire will be hot and food burns whilst on other days the wood used will be giving less heat and the cooking takes longer. Some days you will be hungry for a baked potato and need embers at the time where your heat is roaring, for example. A bit of practice and trial & error is required. Remember: coal gives a more intense heat than wood. Flame can accidentally incinerate your dinner. A high heat can cook or burn the outside of your food while leaving the inside raw. Ensure you cook slowly and cook through.

The best book I have come across, still in print and available, which gives cooking instructions and recipes not in Centigrade, Fahrenheit or Gas Mark but rather, gives instructions in stoves heat or stoves flame and stoves temperature, is a book called “They Can’t Ration These” by Vicomte DE Mauditt. “They Can`t Ration These” was commissioned by the British Government around 1940 just as rationing was coming into play. The book makes interesting reading, containing facts long forgotten. It is a doorway to a time past and some of the language has had me in tears of laughter, especially a section on how to identify an edible frog in Norfolk from half a mile away by its croak, the croak being described in three different words followed by a warning that a frog in the same area with a similar croak, also described, was poisionous.

If you would like more details or assistance with the installation of a Country Kiln Wood Burning Stoves please email your query to sales@woodburningstoveslimited.com (The Country Kiln team respond to all emails within 24 hours) or call 01560 483966 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm GMT or Saturday 10am to 1pm

wood burning stoves multi fuel stoves