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  • Cookware for Cub campouts/sleepovers

    Hi, everyone. I am interested in your opinions and suggestions on the best cookware for our Cub campouts.

    (These don't actually involve actual camping, but instead sleeping in a bunkhouse, and cooking on a normal kitchen stove or a charcoal grill or, rarely, an actual campfire. So weight isn't an issue)

    I am volunteering to help the pack select and buy new cookware, most importantly pots, pans, and maybe a griddle. Our current stuff is a mish-mash of battered non-stick stuff. We often need to cook for a big group- like 60 or more people.

    I am leaning away from non-stick, because I don't really care for it myself, and it seems very vulnerable to damage from misuse. If someone gets it too hot, or uses the wrong utensil, it's ruined.

    I'm not crazy about aluminum, but not for any good reason I can describe. Maybe because it always looks so battered and cruddy.

    I prefer stainless, but I am guessing a lot of people perceive it to be difficult to clean. Perhaps it is if it has something really incinerated on it, which is a possibility with our crew. To me it seems like if worse comes to worst, it can be scrubbed mercilessly.

    That brings us to plain cast iron, which I have very little experience with, but like the idea of. It just seems authentic and "outdoorsy". It also seems like it can take some abuse, isn't finicky about being spotlessly clean, and actually enjoys some "seasoning". But I worry about it getting kind of "funky" sitting for months between uses, or being difficult to get clean and sterile.

    So any suggestions or experiences are appreciated.

    Thanks!

    David

  • #2
    If every adult who will be responsible for putting away your cooking gear will make sure that it's clean and dry, buy cast iron. If not, get used to that rusty taste.

    Comment


    • #3
      We use cast iron a lot but we are in Boy Scouts. All the other pots and pans eventually get ruined anyway. Stay away from teflon especially as the boys scratch that up really fast.

      Comment


      • #4
        There are drawbacks to any cookware, but in the long run the cast iron is the best if you know what you are doing.

        If properly seasoned, and used with the correct heat, it IS NO STICK! If you get food to stick on cast iron, you are way to hot. Nothing needs cooking beyond medium in cast iron.

        If you do not use it often, season with bees wax instead of oil. It works the same except you need to heat up when you are done cleaning so the wax will flow on the iron. In order to get it right, you need to burn off all the old oil and reseason the metal with wax. If done properly, you can store your cast iron for years and it will never rust nor go rancid.

        The only way to ruin cast iron is pour cold water in a hot pan or drop it on a very hard surface.

        The biggest drawback to cast iron is it's weight.

        Stainless steel is good only for items that have water to boil. If you boil it dry, your stainless is pretty shot.

        Because of the variety of different people using the cookware, you will quickly learn that whatever cookware it is, it's not going to last. Someone, somewhere along the way is going to do a number on it.

        Stosh

        Comment


        • #5
          Stainless steel is easy to clean if you pack SOS/Brillo pads. Also, while the pan is still very hot and the stove is still on, deglaze with water and scrape with a spatula to get off a lot of burnt on crud.

          Comment


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            I have some stainless that someone burn food onto and to this day, no amount of elbow grease has been able to clean it up. If the stainless wasn't so thin to begin with, I would toy with the idea of sandpaper and electric drill.

            By the way, even the oven cleaner stuff didn't do the trick.

            Stosh

          • King Ding Dong
            King Ding Dong commented
            Editing a comment
            Wife bought a set of stainless cookware a couple of years ago. Works well enough and best to deglaze with water right when done cooking. Barkeepers Friend and those stainless pads work well. Having said that she mostly uses a nonstick pan and replaces it every year or two. SAMs or Costco usually have decent deals on a big sauté pan.

            Jblake give the barkeeps friend and those silver stainless pads a try. I have had success with some pretty crunchy mistakes.

        • #6
          Dutch Ovens. Smartest way to feed a crowd.

          Comment


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            That is cast iron! You are correct, however, it's the easiest way to do a crowd.

        • #7
          Well for Starters get away from The Idea of Buying a Traditional Home Set.Well for Bunkhouse type cooking buy what fits the Cooks Experience. Buy what fits the Stove. Don't buy 36 Inch cookie sheets for a 28 inch oven. Replace the Home Type Stove with a Commercial type stove (easily found on Craigslist or Resale shops). They Usually have a Higher BTU Rating and More burners and Larger ovens. Maybe even Buy a Commercial stainless steel grill (aslo available cheep on craigslist). Easier to cook Pancakes that way for Large groups. Also buy Larger Pots..Why waste time trying to boil 5 Loads of Ears of Corn in say 2 quart pots when you can boil it all in a 5 Gallon Pot. think outside the Kitchen Cooking so consider getting a bigger BBQ Grill than you smaller typical pation type. I have a 36 inch wide that can cook at least 50 burgers at a Time or maybe 30 good sized steaks. Plus I have a Wood fired BBQ Trailer I use. I have seen 60 inch Propane grills for less than $350 brand new. You could easily cook for over 50 in no time. Also fit the pots and Pans to the Type of Cooking you do..Don't Buy Skillets if you maining Boil or reheat canned Foods. Alot of paste dishes you need pots. Larger Pots and Pans for Larger Group Cooking. Get away from the IDEA of a SET... Think Individual Pots and Pans for your style of Cooking.
          Last edited by jpstodwftexas; 09-24-2013, 02:11 AM.

          Comment


          • #8
            Wow. Thanks for all the great responses!

            I think I am leaning toward stainless. As much as I like the idea of cast iron, I think stainless might be a little more foolproof, and a lot easier to care for in the long periods between campouts.

            Most of our meals have a grilled meat component that we do over charcoal or wood. Simple enough. Often we will have a big pot meal, like spaghetti. We definitely need a new giant pot or two for this. Another pot or two for heating sauce and meatballs.

            And then there is the fried stuff- pancakes, sausage, eggs, etc. This is the most challenging. We typically do this on a regular household range, which is what is installed in the camps that we go to, so we don't have a choice. We have been using these two battered teflon griddles that we put over the burners, and that is what I am trying to get away from. I'm leaning toward a couple big stainless saute pans. A big stainless griddle would be great, but they seem hard to find, except for the ones that go on an outdoor grill. Maybe one of those would work. I'll have to do more research.

            Keep the ideas coming!

            David

            Comment


            • Nike
              Nike commented
              Editing a comment
              Our pack bought a big stainless pot with a spigot. Boil water in the pot, then dispense into hot chocolate via the spigot. So much better than ladling out water. We also used a big stainless pot on a turkey fryer set up to boil water solely for dishes.

            • jpstodwftexas
              jpstodwftexas commented
              Editing a comment
              I have a 15.5 Gallon Converted Keg for Hot Water. Sets on top of the Firebox on my BBQ Traler or on a Propane Burner. It has a spigot installed

          • #9
            I would suggest going with stainless. As for cleaning, while you are still at the campout, just boil some soapy water right in the pot after you have used it, that usually makes everything wipe out easily. Then it is always nice being able to stick it in the dishwasher after you get home.

            Dutch oven are nice and a good skill to teach scouts. However, if you use them always put foil in the first to make clean-up easy.

            If anything, it seems you may also benefit from a cast iron griddle, makes pancakes and the likes great. However, be sure not to cook bacon on a griddle, as the grease will almost always catch on fire. If you do get any cast iron, be sure not to wash it with soap, just scrap everything off and then season it with vegetable oil.

            Comment


            • #10
              By the Way I season my Cast Iron with Lard...Better than Vegatable Oil..Never use a liguid oil to season with

              Comment


              • Nike
                Nike commented
                Editing a comment
                Stosh, are you saying to put the rocks in the bottom of the DO, and the pie plate/tin on top?

              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                Yep, it is a Dutch OVEN. No one sets anything in an oven without it being on a rack. Once the pie pan is off the bottom, then it won't burn food on the bottom.

                Most foods are baked at 350-degrees in an oven at home. They always figure the food sits on a rack in the oven to heat evenly with air movement around the food. If one has a #12 oven, put 9 briquettes under the oven and 15 on the top. That will give you 350-degrees for about 45 minutes, replace them out if you're going to bake longer than that. That will give you exactly the same as what you would have at home in the oven. It's called Dutch oven baking, not Dutch oven cooking.

                The #1 problem with dutch ovens is that the vast majority of people never use it as an oven. More often than not, it is a cook pot with the ability to top brown if desired. I have NEVER seen anyone do a cobbler using a dutch oven as an oven. With the liquid of the fruit they chance the cooking process to pot cooking rather than truly baking it.

                The boys in my troop would always slam-dunk the DO competitions with their chocolate chip cookie cheese cake recipe and NEVER have to clean the oven when they were done. Why? because they used the DO correctly.

                Stosh

              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                If you just can't get past cooking with rocks they sell trivets for them. I know a DL that used some bolts to hold a pan off the bottom. Though a trivet is best to keep a roast off the bottom.

                I don't know if its the best but the Dale Smith book has lots of tricks and great recipes. Some welding gloves, lid lifter and lid holder are handy accessories. The lid holder works great as a grate for the coffee pot as well.

            • #11
              Usually for "cubs first night out" we tend to do foil wraps in the coals of the fire.
              The kids get to cut up, clean all the veggies n stuff themselves, works good with hamburger or minced meat,
              I and think that "I wrapped it myself" thingo is pretty cool for the small ones.

              Another nice thing is "eggs in a bag"
              just have a "buffet" with grated cheese, bacon, ham, mushrooms whatever and each kid gets a couple
              of eggs, cracked into a ziplock bag raw and mixed with what they want,
              then each scout writes their name on their bag and all the bags go in a big pot of boiling water and - voila - scrambled eggs and
              you dont even need to do dishes (spoon right out of the bag like an MRE LOL)

              Oh and I love Dutch Ovens. I need to get myself one. Mmmmh peach cobbler nom nom...

              Comment


              • berliner
                berliner commented
                Editing a comment
                Nike - why do foil wraps then? I have had food burn in foil wraps. But we do it again every single year.

                To be honest, I have NEVER EVER TO THIS DAY had a zip lock bag pop or leak.
                And its not about boiling eggs in a bag - its about making scrambled eggs in a bag: omlette zip lock.
                Part of the Cub programm is to do fun things that interest the small boys.

                German scouts make "stick bread" - you know how often that drops into the fire?

                I think every scout should be like MacGyver and able to improvise.

              • sasha
                sasha commented
                Editing a comment
                berliner, I've started wrapping foil dinners in two layers of foil with a damp paper towel between the foil layers. I also add a little liquid to the veggies. No more burnt dinners! I believe I learned those tricks here on the forum.

              • berliner
                berliner commented
                Editing a comment
                thank you sasha. one of the things I like most about scouters is how we constantly teach & learn. all these lil MacGyver things we do LOL

            • #12
              Well my Cast iron is Used all the Time..Never a chance to go Rancid

              Comment


              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                Same with me, but not all my cast iron gets used daily/weekly. A lot of it gets stored from one camping season to the next. That's way too long of a storage. Most oils go rancid within 6-9 months and if you've ever opened up a summer camp DO right out of the storage barn, you'll know immediately what I mean.

                Stosh

            • #13
              The issue we have run into with cast iron is allergies. The way most cast iron is treated, no washing and oiled, makes cross- contamination a realistic threat. Using cookware that can be scrubbed is better from an allergy point of view.

              Basic steel cookware can be used in all of the ways you've described, Grubdad. It's reasonably non- stick if you heat the pan first, then add you cooking fat and food. If you camp with access to electricity a lot, I'd also suggest purchasing a couple of electric griddles and a couple of crock pots. The electric griddles make cooking stacks of pancakes a breeze and the crock pots are good for heating and holding foods warm for serving.

              Comment


              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                Interesting point about the allergies. I have never been all that comfortable with the no washing cast iron thing, but I suppose if you heat it well enough all the buggies die.

              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                If boiling water at 212 degrees kills the bugs, a DO at normal heat of 350 does a pretty good job, too.
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