Essential woodfired equipment
After last week’s blog , we thought some information on essential woodfired equipment might be useful. If you are going to cook successfully with your oven, there are some bits of essential woodfired equipment you need. You will find everything we’ve listed will make things easy and efficient. It can become a bit of a clobber sport but these we think, will start you on your way.
Most of our essential woodfired equipment can be bought online, scrounged from friends and relatives or refocussed from the shed. Here are our can’t-do-withouts –
You will put your hands in and out of a very hot oven so they need protection. We use good quality welders’ guantlets which are long enough to go up your forearms and flexible enough to hold things easily. It will become second nature to put them on before you handle anything in and around the oven.
These eco-lighters are great. They are made of champagne case packing shavings and candlewax and have no nasty chemicals.
Obviously you can’t do without a good box of matches or a lighter kept in an airtight box to prevent them from becoming damp.
Essential woodfired equipment – Gadgets
Yes there are gadgets involved like most cooking. However you don’t need to spend a fortune and some things you might have anyway.
Checking your wood for moisture
We have a gadget to test how dry your wood is – a moisture meter in fact. It is very easy to use. You just take the lid off and shove the 2 prongs into the bit of wood in question. Remember, less than 15% moisture and you’re good to go.
Those of you who have been on our woodfired cooking courses will be familiar with our high-tech blow pipes for getting air right into the fire if it’s being slow to catch light. We also use them for clearing the oven floor of ash or small bits of wood or embers. Basically David just gets a bit of copper pipe from the shed. Then he bashes one of the ends so it’s flat but still with an opening so the air will get forced out. On the other end he puts piece of hoselock to blow through. Simples!
Get an infrared digital thermometer for testing temperatures all round your woodfired oven. It can be tempting to play Star Trek with it but make sure you don’t point it into anyone’s eyes. Once you get a feel for the temperature by using your hands, you won’t need it so much but initially it’s good to back up your senses.
Buy a probe thermometer for testing the internal temperatures of meat and loaves of bread just out of the oven. Don’t forget to disinfect it every time after use.
Peels and things on long handles
Peels, paddles, call them what you will but you’ll need a fe
- A dirty peel for placing pieces of wood on the fire and for moving embers around.
- A large metal peel for pizzas.
- A smaller metal peel for moving things around in the oven.
- A bristle brush for brushing the oven floor clear of flour and ash. We just bought a stiff wooden sweeping brush and took off the head. Then we turned it 90 degrees so the head was in line with the handle and screwed it back into place. The brush cost £5 and it took about 10 minutes to convert.
- Some kind of swab for clearing the oven floor with a damp cloth when necessary. Our first version was a damp tea-towel tied round the head of a peel. However the teatowel kept coming away from the peel. #2 is an old window squeegee on a short pole with a piece of coffee sack/hessian double around it and tied tightly. Much more effective!
We’ve now got a collection of of axes for splitting logs into smaller pieces and kindling but you just need one good one. Also a sturdy chopping block for putting the logs to be split on (sorry bad grammar…) – just a big bit of wood really with a flat surface.
Plenty of very dry seasoned hardwood logs cut into 25cm length and stored undercover on their sides.
Pots and Pans
We now have a plentiful supply of pots and pans – cast iron or steel for high heat cooking, ceramics and enamelware for slow cooking.
We bought the 3 in the front right from our friend John at BigFire in Dartington. The wok at top right was found in a junk shop in Ashburton covered with soil and rust from someone’s garden where it was a bird bath. The top left 3 small ones were in another junk shop – £6 for the 3. The bottom left big frying pan was from David’s Aunty Kay when it became too heavy for her to lift. We’ve also now got some lovely pans from our friends at Netherton Foundry and Morso and ceramics from our weeks in Spain and our friends at Nkuku.
Phew – is that it for essential woodfired equipment?!
That’s probably all the essential woodfired equipment you need to get started. You don’t have to have everything at once. You can build up to it as and when and put out heavy hints for birthdays and Christmas. Also keep an eye out in junk shops and at car boot sales – everything we want for woodfired cooking, all that essential woodfired equipment, is stuff that other people are getting rid of. Very satisfying when you come home with a good day’s shopping – now you can get cooking!