Monday, November 23, 2009

building the earth (cob) oven

An earth oven is one of the most simple and long-used cooking structures. At its simplest, an earth oven is simply a pit in the ground used to trap heat and bake, smoke, or steam food. Earth ovens have been used in many places and cultures in the past and remain a common tool for cooking large quantities of food where no equipment is available. An earth or cob oven is a wood fired oven made from a mixture of mud or clay, sand and straw(cob). It is built to retain the heat from a fire built inside of it. Your oven can be used to bake bread, cook pizzas, slow cook stews, roasts, or make anything you would cook in a conventional oven. We often used the small chimney on top of ours to make coffee or heat dish water since we had the oven fired up anyway, may as well use it for as much as possible. Earth ovens are very earth friendly to build. They are typically built with natural resources native to the area and when no longer used simply return to mother earth and leave no trace.

our experience
One of the first back to the basics projects we did around the homestead was an old style very basic earth oven. We didn't use an exact plan for our oven but just looked around the web, got an idea and built it. We used materials we had on hand and of course our own clay, we did purchase a bale of straw but looking back on it we could have just used native grasses in place of the straw.

We made the project into a two day build only because we had company coming with children to help stomp the mud.The adults still wound up stomping while the kiddies had mud wars. We made the base and basic shape on day one then made the mud and built the oven the following day. All total it was about 6 -8 hours of work and then a few more hours over time after it had dried, cured and been fired for the first time.

We no longer use the earth oven here on the land as we moved the kitchen where it was located to another location. Yes, we move our out door kitchens around so as not to leave too big an imprint on any one area. When we moved this particular kitchen, the oven was left out to the elements so we left it do nature to clean it up, it is now a tiny bump of clay.

There are many types of earth oven plans out there and available on the web. They range from the very basic to very ornate.I recommend anyone with any tiny piece of land to build one for them self. Not only are they fun to build and use on a regular basis but they could very well be a needed tool in an emergency no power, no fuel situation. Who doesnt love a home baked meal no matter whats happening in the world around you?

The photos of how we built the oven

An in depth article and plans for an earth oven

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