Tuesday, November 24, 2009

building the brick stove top/ oven

A couple years ago when we got our propane delivery and subsequent bill we decided that it was going to be our last delivery and that all of our cooking was going to be done over wood from that point on. Most of our summer cooking was already done over wood at this point in time but we still used the four eyed propane monster in the kitchen for the bulk of our cooking needs. Wondering just how we were going to go about this we looked around at what we had laying around and came up with our wood cook top and brick oven project.

We had an old wood cook stove that was in bad shape and we had some bricks laying around and this is what the manthing built for us. In the warmer months of the year this is what we cook and do all of our canning on. Overall i love it! Its much better than an open flame and cheaper than the propane. It smells lovely outside when we cook and I often wonder how far I would have to go from the house to smell things cooking. Canning is much cooler than if we did it in the house and it's nice having one huge burn area under a canner rather than a small burner on a normal stove.

The stove is under what most would consider a car port. During the cold months we run a couple few tarps to stop the winds from whipping through so much. It does stay dry under there except for when we have our torrential down pours with big winds. Since we have built the oven I have learned to cook on the wood stove in the shack for most of our needs in the winter months and just use the outdoor one for big bake days.

Please keep in mind that almost all materials were salvage and we worked with what we had to work with. Our total investment was 3 bags of mortar mix and 4, 4 foot pieces of 3/8 inch rebar, a grand total of 19 bucks.

The photo blog of the oven build

What we have learned since building
When cooking day in and day out over wood, IT REQUIRES A LOT OF WOOD!!!! We spend between two and three hours every week collecting dead fall for the stove part. Another hour or two is spent on the oven portions needs. The oven part takes about a 1/2wheel barrow full of wood when it is fired upfor the day.

The oven stays hot and warm for a very long while. Use it while its hot to make it worth the effort. I cook all our baked products each month on one firing of the oven. (breads, cakes, cookies, baked squashes and main meals etc). When it is cooling down nicely i use it to dry herbs n such, it does a nice job...

The oven works best keeping a small fire under the stove top portion and we do generally actually have a fire and coals under the oven bit as well. Utilize the stove top while you are heating the oven. I generally make a large pot of beans, cook my rice for the week(then as we go through the week turn it into various meals) and make a pot of pasta. I also make a large pot of taters and if i am going to need any tomato sauces i cook them down as well.

The oven takes about 3 hours to heat up to cooking temperatures (350-375). Things cook faster in this than a conventional oven. If i cook a cake at 350 it will be done in 15 minutes . If i put it in at 300-325 it takes about normal time. Glass pans work best for all things. Metal pans tend to get things burnt on the bottom. The side that is closest to the stove top is hotter than the opposite side and the back is hotter than the front. To fix this simply rotate dishes half way through...

Since the stove top is somewhat open to elements, keeping it seasoned can be difficult. Things cook just as fast or faster on the stove top as a conventional stove. It takes a bit longer to heat up since it is cast iron, but it also retains the heat for longer after you stop feeding the fire...

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