When is Samphire in Season in the UK?

When is samphire in season in the uk?

Marsh Samphire is in season in the UK between the months of June and September, although it may vary slightly depending on your location.

Midsummer’s Day is the traditional start of the samphire picking season.

There are thought to be a few different varieties of Marsh Samphire in the UK, the most common type you will find is the bright-green Salicornia europaea.

If the Marsh Samphire you are collecting has a purple tinge to it, it may well be the variety Salicornia ramosissima.

Both varieties are edible and tasty.

How to collect Marsh Samphire

It is technically illegal to uproot samphire without permission.

You don’t want to do this anyway, as you don’t eat the root of the plant, only the tips.

Uprooting also damages the habitat, so please try not to do this.

Take some robust scissors with you and snip the tender tops off of the plant and store them in a basket or bag.

Other than paying attention to the safety aspect of being out on the marshes, it’s as simple as finding a decent patch and snipping off the tops.

Although you can store it, like with all wild foods, only take what you need.

You can always come back another day!

Is samphire available all year round?

No, as above its season runs from approx June through to September.

Outside of these months, samphire disappears, usually with the frosts in autumn.

You may be able to purchase samphire in the shops outside of the traditional UK growing season, but this will likely have come from abroad.

Does samphire grow in the UK?

Yes. Marsh Samphire grows all around coastal areas of the UK that have salt marshes and mudflats.

It is quite prolific around Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Wales.

Is samphire good for your health? How healthy is samphire?

Yes. Marsh Samphire contains a number of vitamins minerals and antioxidants that are considered to be especially good for your health.

These include minerals magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium, along with vitamins A, B and C.

Samphire also contains fucoidans, which are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant effects.

Do I need to cook samphire?

No, you do not need to cook Marsh Samphire. It can be eaten raw. However, it is also very tasty when cooked.

Steaming for around 5 minutes is the best way to cook samphire.

Once served, it benefits from having a dob of butter melted over it, but is by no means essential.

If you have a younger plant, or just have the more tender tips, then you can just eat whole and enjoy.

If you have a more mature plant, you will find that they have a stringy/woody middle section along most of their length.

You can easily deal with this by running the steamed samphire through your front teeth while holding on to the base.

This strips off all the tender flesh and leaves you with the stringy fibrous part in your hand which can be discarded.

Can I eat samphire raw? Can you eat samphire cold?

Yes, Marsh Samphire can be eaten raw (cold).

If you are going to eat it raw, make sure you go for the tips of the plant only, as these won’t have the stringy central fibre in them.

You can eat there and then, on the marsh, or save for later.

One of the best ways to consume samphire tips is to add them to a fresh salad.

The samphire gives the salad a new dimension, of saltiness and iodine, but you can overdo it, so just use a few.

Is all samphire edible? Can you eat rock samphire?

In the UK, both types of samphire are technically edible, these being Marsh Samphire which we are discussing here and Rock Samphire.

Although linked by name, they are actually a very different plant and species.

Marsh Samphire usually being the variety (Salicornia europaea) and rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum).

However, although Rock Samphire is deemed edible, most will not like the flavour as it contains aromatic chemicals, one of which is pinene, which is an ingredient of turpentine, hence why it tastes so awful!!!

If you are after good samphire for eating, go for Marsh Samphire, as this is the variety that is known for its culinary credentials.

Is samphire a seaweed?

No, samphire is not a seaweed.

It is actually a member of the goosefoot family, and looks more like a small cactus without the spines!

Marsh samphire generally grows on tidal mudflats, sometimes quite prolifically, and looks quite different to seaweed.

This extremely meditative video from Andy Ballard shows him foraging for Marsh Samphire on the Bristol Channel.

Does samphire taste like seaweed?

No, samphire does not taste like seaweed. It has its own flavour, which is actually very pleasant.

It’s more like salty asparagus, which is delicious, but the salt can be overpowering if you eat too much of it, so take it steady.

How many calories does samphire have?

Samphire contains around 25 calories per 100 grams consumed.

This is for samphire when served on its own, such as when steamed/boiled or eaten raw.

If adding other ingredients, then this will obviously change accordingly.

How many carbs are in samphire?

Samphire contains around 1.5g carbohydrate per 100 grams consumed, which is pretty much made up of dietary fibre.

Therefore, there are hardly any carbs in Marsh Samphire.

Is samphire the same as sea asparagus?

Yes, in other parts of the world, Marsh Samphire is known as sea asparagus.

In other locations, it is also known as samphire greens, sea beans, crow’s foot greens and beach asparagus.

Does samphire have iodine? Is samphire high in iodine?

Yes, samphire does contain iodine.

However, it doesn’t contain anywhere near as much as some seaweeds do, so samphire wouldn’t be classed as high in iodine as seaweed – although it’s a pretty decent level.

For comparison, samphire contains approx 90 micrograms per 100 grams.

Some seaweed contains approx 250,000 micrograms per 100 grams.

However, it must be noted that adults recommended daily iodine intake is 140 micrograms per day, so a decent portion would easily get you up to this.

Does samphire contain iron?

Yes, samphire contains iron. It also contains vitamin C and calcium.

Samphire also contains antioxidants, which in combination with the other vitamins and minerals make it an extremely healthy plant to eat and a great addition to your diet.

Summary

So, when is samphire in season in the UK?

Usually between the months of June and September. with Midsummer’s Day being the traditional start of the season.

Keen to pick up some more free foraging goodness???

Take a look at our foraging section for more articles on such things as limpets and gorse flower.

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

Are you looking for some easy camp Dutch oven recipes for your next backyard or wilderness adventure?

Here we have compiled a selection of 4 easy and tasty recipes to get you started, for both main course and dessert.

All these recipes are tried and tested and you can pick up all of the ingredients at your local grocery store.

If you need some Dutch oven and guidance on how to use one, we have put together a comprehensive article here.

Regardless, let’s get into the recipes…

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans from Scratch

A classic, hearty recipe that’s easy to cook and tastes delicious!

A lot of these ingredients are staples that you will probably have in your kitchen and the rest are easily purchased in your local store.

Ingredients:

  • 1 good slug of vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 large size onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium chillies finely chopped (leave out if you don’t like spice)
  • 1lb of bacon, sliced
  • 1lb of minced beef
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 3 cans baked beans
  • 6 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add the onion, garlic and chillies and fry until softened.
  • Now fry the bacon until lightly browned.
  • Add the minced beef and fry until the bacon and beef are both nicely browned.
  • Introduce the rest of the ingredients, stir thoroughly and cover with the lid.
  • Place a layer of embers on the lid and cook for around 30 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve with some fresh, buttered bread.
Campfire Dutch oven bread

Campfire Dutch oven bread

This is a delicious Dutch oven no-knead bread. Just be careful not to burn it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups water, around room temp

Instructions

  • Using a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt together.
  • Make a well and slowly pour in the water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go.
  • Once mixed, cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight to prove.
  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
  • Shape into a ball.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Sprinkle a bit more flour inside the oven and place the dough inside.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking the bread every so often.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  • Once brown, remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Serve with butter.
Campfire venison stew in Dutch oven

Campfire venison stew

A great tasty stew to warm to cockles. You can substitute the venison for beef if required.

Ingredients

  • 1 good slug of vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds venison, cubed
  • 4 green peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 8 small whole onions or shallots, peeled
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of whole peppercorns

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your Dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add garlic and onion. Fry until softened.
  • Add venison and brown.
  • Add remaining ingredients in order.
  • Stir thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for 45 – 60 mins, checking periodically.
  • Remove lid – serve and enjoy!
Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

A delicious and easy dessert to make over the campfire. The simple ingredients also make it an easy one to do.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cans of sliced peaches, in syrup

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Add the sugar and flour into the oven and mix together.
  • Pour both cans of peaches on top, and very lightly stir together with the sugar and flour mix. You still want some un-floured peaches showing on top.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for around 40 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve.

Serve with cream or evaporated milk.

And now for some entertainment…


Camp Dutch oven recipe cookbooks

For a few more recipe ideas, why not try some of the highly-rated books below.

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook
The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook – Robin Donovan

A nicely illustrated camp dutch oven specific recipe book, which keeps things simple by using only 5 main ingredients per recipe.

There is also a good amount of advice at the front, including oven maintenance and recipe preparation.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven
101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven – Vernon Winterton

There is plenty in here to keep you busy and develop your knowledge.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

We hope you decide to get out there and try our 4 easy camp Dutch oven recipes. They are all relatively simple to do and you will no doubt have a lot of fun while doing cooking them.

As mentioned above, we would recommend you have a look through our Dutch oven cooking article, which goes into the history as well as more practical matters, such as how many coals you should use and how you should care for and season your oven.

You can find that here.

What can you make in a Dutch oven while camping?

The great thing about Dutch ovens is they are extremely versatile and the more experienced you become with one, the more confident you will be as a cook and the world really is your oyster (in cooking terms).

You can bake, boil, fry steam in a Dutch oven, so you really are covered for most types of camp cooking.

How do you bake in a camp oven?

If we are talking about baking things such as breads and desserts, then we have two recipes here and this gives you a simple process to follow.

You can also see our charcoal guide here for more precise cooking.

Common Limpet Foraging – The Ultimate Guide

Common Limpet - Coastal Bushcraft Foraging

Found on rocky shorelines across the UK, the common limpet is an almost guaranteed find for the shoreline hunter and is a handy addition to any foraging trip. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some limpet facts…

What are limpets?

Limpets are small, cone-shaped creatures that live on rocks in the inter-tidal zone.

They are usually spotted at low tide clamped to rocks and should you try and pick one up, will nearly always clamp down and become immovable. They are seriously impressive in this regard.

In this clamped state, they don’t really do a lot, but once the tide returns, and they have submerged once again, they ‘spring to life’ and start going about their business of feeding on their chosen home.

There are two main types to be found in Britain, the common limpet and the slipper limpet.

Today we will focus on the common limpet.

What is the scientific name for limpets?

The scientific name for the common limpet is patella vulgata.

Patella vulgata are the European common limpets and as the name suggests – are of the Patella genus

These are marine gastropod molluscs and are in the Patellidae family.

Can you eat common limpets? Are common limpets edible?

Yes, you can eat common limpets providing you follow the advice below.

Although I can say with confidence that there are certainly tastier wild treats to be had, the limpet is certainly worth knowing about from a wild food perspective, even if that said food does sometimes resemble the texture of pencil rubbers.

Are limpets healthy to eat?

Yes, as long as they were a healthy limpet when you collected them and you have stored and prepared them correctly, limpets are a high protein snack, with many many other vitamins and minerals to boot.

Do limpets have eyes?

Yes, the common limpet has a left and a right ‘eye‘, but there is little research on what they can actually view with these.

They also have two antennae for feeling their way around and sensing. The combination of the two helps them build up a picture of what is around them when hunting for food.

Can limpets swim?

Juvenile limpets spend the first part of their lives as free-swimming planktonic creatures and therefore do technically swim.

Once they mature though, they find a home that they like and stay put.

Fully grown limpets do not swim. They use their foot to travel across surfaces.

Where are limpet shells found?

The common limpet can be found in coastal areas all over the British Isles

They are not usually hard to find and are generally located in shallow water, on rocks or cliffs that are within the intertidal zone.

What is unique about the intertidal coastline?

The intertidal coastline or intertidal zone is unique in the fact that it is submerged by seawater around 2 times a day.

It is essentially the section of shoreline that is between the high and low watermark.

This area is fully submerged at high tide and then dry again at low tide.

Creatures and plants must therefore be able to survive in both of these states.

This makes for a special environment that supports many different creatures including limpets, starfish, sea anemones, sea stars, mussels, winkles, crabs and many more.

How do you identify a limpet?

What does a limpet look like?

The common limpet is cone-shaped and easy to identify. There will often be many limpets attached to one rock, in varying sizes.

Their shape and ability to tightly attach themselves to rocks allows them to remain in place – even whilst getting pounded by strong waves.

What do limpets eat?

At high tide, the limpet feeds by slowly moving around its chosen rock, feeding on algae and similar vegetative marine life.

Although classed as herbivores, they are also thought to eat small creatures like young barnacles etc.

Do limpets bite?

No, well they wont bite you anyway.

Limpets have a super tongue which they use to feed with. This is known as a radula.

The radula is similar to a tongue, but has rows of tiny ‘teeth’ attached.

As you can probably imagine, this radula is extremely tough, as it needs to be able to scrape food off rocks when feeding.

Indeed, UK engineers discovered that the teeth attached to this are made from the toughest biological material that has ever been tested.

Impressive stuff!

Limpets will generally stay in a localised area and not stray too far from their home, which they will always come back to when the tide goes back out.

Over time, this can cause an indentation on the rock which is known as a ‘home scar’. 

The limpet clamps down on this section of rock, using its powerful ‘foot’ and remains there until the tide comes back in and it’s ready to move and feed again.

How do you forage for limpets?

Common limpet collected in bucket - Seaweed - common limpet foraging
A little seaweed and water helps keep the limpets fresh

Common Limpets can be collected all year round.

Ensure that the area you intend to forage from has a regular and strong tide to ensure that the limpets are regularly submerged.

Also, check that the local area has good water quality and is free from pollutants.

The common limpet is an important part of the ecosystem, keeping the rock’s algal growth in check.

It is vital therefore that you do not gather too many from one area, as an imbalance can occur.

Good practice would be to take only one from each rock or immediate area, leaving the others to carry on their good work.

If there is only one on a rock, then leave it be. Do not over-collect in one area.

Fill your bucket or collecting vessel with fresh seawater and place some carefully collected seaweed in as well if available.

This will help to keep your limpets fresh.

How do you remove limpets from rocks?

A variety of tools can be used to prize the limpet away, including an old chisel or sharp implement such as a knife etc, but a rock will usually do and is usually readily available.

One thing to know when collecting limpets is that you only really get one good chance at them.

Although they will be stuck to the rock when you approach them, they are not usually ‘fully clamped’.

A sharp whack from one side will usually dislodge them.

If you do not manage to dislodge them on the first whack, or they sense you coming, they will fully clamp down on the rock and you will have a hard time getting them off the rock, no matter how hard you try.

They are unbelievably strong.

You can follow up with a second strike very shortly after the first one, but if this fails, leave them alone or you risk damaging them, as they will now have fully clamped down.

Your best bet is to go and find another to work on.

When collecting them myself, I generally have one hand holding the dislodging rock and my other hand is placed on the opposite side of the limpet, ready to catch the dislodged morsel before it disappears into the brine below.

In a good area, it is not hard to quickly collect a bucketful. Remember, do not take more than you need.

If your camp is based nearby, you can always return if necessary, or visit another spot.

Can you eat a limpet raw?

The common limpet is edible and can be eaten raw, but you’re probably going to want to cook it.

Check that the limpet is still alive, especially if it has been a while since collection.

You will see it moving, so it’s not hard to check this. 

Are limpets tasty?

I’m going to get straight to the point here and say that limpets probably aren’t going to on your top 10 list of bushcraft cuisine.

The fact is that they are usually chewy, really chewy – no matter what you do to them!

The flavour isn’t bad, it’s like a chewy mussle, but the texture isn’t always great – well never great actually!

Some say not to cook them for too long, but they seem to be chewy whatever you do to them, so just expect that to be the case.

One way to combat the chewiness is to finely chop them and add them to other dishes so that they are more easily consumed.

This can be done after they are cooked and then added to a curry or stew etc.

They will certainly add a new dimension to the dish!

Caveats aside, they are definitely worth a try and can form a great addition to other foods if prepared in a certain way.

If you want to cook them on their own, try cooking them upside down, straight on the embers of your fire.

If you have the luxury, try adding some olive oil and some garlic to add some flavour and cook until the oil starts to bubble.

Remove from the shell, remove the black part if you wish and enjoy.

I can guarantee you will remember the experience.

What does limpet taste like?

Limpets have a taste of their own, but to give you a rough idea – they taste a bit like a chewier version of a mussle and are equally sweet in taste.

Can you fry limpets?

Yes. You can fry them in their shells, or for a more direct method, you can remove them from their shells, tenderise them with a meat hammer or similar and then fry.

You can fry them as is, or coat them in a flour mixture first, depending on your preference.

Safety whilst common limpet foraging

As with all foraging, there is a degree of risk involved.

Coastal foraging brings additional dangers.

Apart from the food safety side that is mentioned above, the actual collection part can be risky in itself.

You are usually stepping on or wading through rocky areas when foraging, contending with slippy, jagged surfaces and possibly waves.

Common sense goes a long way here.

Take great care with your foot placement and move slowly and deliberately.

A wading stick may prove useful.

Wear appropriate footwear, something that will protect your feet from the sharp rocks and provide you with some grip.

Avoid standing on rocks with a slimy green surface. The last thing you want is a fall in this environment.

Be aware of the tides. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment, only to realise that the tide is a lot higher than you thought, with your access back to dry land now cut off.

As with most things, preparation is key here.

Plan your route and enjoy the forage!

James

Bushcraft Hub

What’s your favourite way to eat limpets?

Let us know in the comments below.

Is Gorse Flower Edible?

Is Gorse Flower Edible?

Yes, gorse flower is edible. You need to make sure that you only use them in small quantities though, as they contain alkaloids, which are mildly toxic.

You would have to eat quite a few for them to have any effects, but it’s worth being aware of that.

Gorse (Ulex Europaeus) starts to flower around late Autumn, continuing through Winter, with the flowers reaching full bloom around Spring.

These edible flowers have a pleasant, almost coconut aroma and can be picked and used for many purposes, including adding to a salad or brewed into a tea.

One of the more popular ways to use these is to ferment them into wine, which if successful, produces a very nice drop indeed and is well worth the effort.

What can you use gorse flowers for?

You can use gorse flowers for a variety of recipes, but the most simple way to consume them is to simply eat them straight from the bush.

Some other ways to consume them include:

  • Tea
  • Salad
  • Wine

Can you make tea from gorse flowers? How do you make gorse flower tea?

Yes. You can make tea from gorse flowers.

Pick a small handful of fresh gorse flowers, place in a teapot and cover with a cup’s worth of freshly boiled water.

Leave for around 8-10 minutes to brew and then serve. A tea strainer will help with this.

Gorse flower tea benefits

Gorse flower tea has been used for its medicinal benefits for years.

This includes ailments such as:

  • Coughs
  • Colds
  • Sore throat
  • Heartburn and many more

What do gorse flowers smell like?

Gorse flowers have a coconut smell with some citrus notes.

They smell wonderful and are slightly surprising considering the menacing look of the gorse bush itself, which has some pretty hefty spines on it.

When it comes to flowers, the gorse bush wants to be inviting!

Is gorse good for bees?

Yes, gorse is good for bees. The flowers produce nectar and bees love it.

There is also a very small amount of nectar within the flower, which helps attract the bees in the first place and gives them some food in return for their pollination efforts.

Is gorse flower poisonous to humans?

No, gorse is not poisonous to humans (as such!).

You can eat the flowers as mentioned above, or make them into a tea or wine, but don’t overdo it, as the flowers contain small amounts of alkaloids and can be mildly toxic.

Are gorse thorns poisonous?

No, gorse thorns are not poisonous to humans either, but they certainly can cause you a lot of pain!

Although the flowers are a sweet treat to eat, you wouldn’t want to be getting stuck in one of these things, as the thorns are extremely nasty indeed.

When picking flowers (or just being near them in general) watch out, or you may get a good spiking!

Does gorse have pollen?

Yes, gorse does have pollen.

It gets attached to bees when the bee flies into the flower, as well as the flower formed in such a way that it extracts some pollen off the bee that it may have on it from visiting other flowers, therefore allowing for pollination.

Is gorse good for firewood?

Yes, gorse is good for firewood – certainly for getting things started anyway.

Gorse is easy to light burns hot and fast, so be prepared for that.

Keep the fire away from other bushes, as they will easily catch in the right conditions!

Due to its fast burning nature, you may want to add on some slower burning wood in order to have a more sustained fire.

Why is gorse flammable?

Gorse contains a small amount of flammable oils (around 2-4%).

These, along with the dry wood that gorse consists of means it burns easily – and it burns hot!

Is gorse a hardwood?

No. gorse is not a hardwood in the traditional sense of what a hardwood is, like oak etc, however, the branches it produces are very sturdy in construction.

What animal eats gorse?

The case-bearer moth’s larva eats the seedpods of gorse.

Goats, sheep, cattle and horses are also known to eat it.

If you do decide to get your own animals for this purpose, do check out some breeds that prefer it more than others.

Is gorse native to the UK?

Yes, gorse is native to the UK.

There are 3 types of gorse species in the UK.

These are:

  • Common Gorse (Ulex Europaeus) – This, as the name suggests is the most common species in the UK and what you will typically find when you come across a gorse bush. This is also the only type that will grow to around 2.5-3 metres tall, so if it’s up at this height it will most certainly be Common Gorse.
  • Western Gorse (Ulex Gallii) – Low growing and found in the West side of Britain, along the Atlantic Coast.
  • Dwarf Gorse (Ulex Minor) – Another low growing gorse variety, that generally grows to around 30cm in height and is generally found South of the River Thames in Kent and on the South Coast in Sussex and Dorset.

Summary

So, Is Gorse Flower Edible? Yes indeed!

Although extremely thorny, its coconut-scented flowers can be used for a variety of things including tea, wine and simply just snacking on them.

Keep the amount you consume to a sensible quantity though, as they do contain alkaloids, which are mildly toxic.

Looking for more foraging? Take a look at our Common Limpet post here.

What is the Best Bushcraft Stove?

Bushcraft liquid fuel stove - MSR XGK EX

Although it is generally preferable to cook on an open fire, there are times when you will want, or indeed need, some form of bushcraft stove.

Fast and reliable, they will get things cooking in minutes.

So what’s available?

Wood burning camp stoves

If you can’t have an open fire due to it not being practical, or perhaps they are prohibited at your location, then you may be able to use a wood-burning camping stove.

These are also sometimes known as Hobo Stoves.

If used with wood, these are as close to an open fire as you can get, whilst having the benefit of keeping the flame concentrated and controlled.

Of course, the main benefit of a wood-fired stove is that you can operate them using free fuel.

This is presuming this is available at your location, or you have brought some in with you.

Most of these stoves are fairly compact, with some being foldable.

They pack down into a smaller carry bag, making them suitable for transportation.

These stoves are primarily designed to burn small twigs and sticks, but most will also run on a variety of other fuels if required.

This includes hexy blocks or meths/alcohol.

Some will even let you incorporate a gas burner.

There are various models and designs on the market, with some performing a lot better than others.

The main options are the foldable box type or the wood gas type.

Box type

Honey Wood Stove - Bushcraft
Backpacking Light’s Honey Stove

The box type wood stoves feature a series of sections that slot together, allowing for different configurations, providing a solid base and pot support.

A popular choice is the Honey Stove which is made by Backpacking Light.

The Honey Stove consists of multiple pieces that can be constructed in a variety of fashions.

You can alter this depending on what you are cooking/boiling and what fuel you are using.

This stove allows for many fuel types including dry leaves, grass, wood, hexamine blocks, to name a few.

It can also incorporate a meths burner (Trangia type) and will even utilise an Optimus Nova burner if required.

All in all, it’s a very versatile choice for bushcraft activities.

These stoves fold down to a very compact size and are therefore ideal for transportation.

Similar alternatives to the Honey Stove include the Firebox or BushBox XL.

Wood gas stoves (Solostove)

Solo Stove Lite Wood Gas Stove
Solo Stove Lite

These types of stoves are usually cylindrical in design and incorporate an external jacket.

How does a wood burning camp stove work?

This jacket funnels warm air (taken from the external vents below), upwards.

This warm air is then deposited into the top of the main fire compartment, via the internal vent holes, just above the flames.

The Solo Stove diagram below shows the process in more detail.

Solo Stove Airflow Diagram

As you can see in the diagram, the airflow process effectively fans the flames, similar to when you blow on a fire to get it roaring.

This creates a hotter, cleaner burn, and also helps to reduce soot build-up.

The above process will begin to happen once the fire in the main compartment has warmed the stove up to operating temperature.

Wood stove round-up

Whether you opt for the box or wood gas type, these stoves are very popular and have very little to go wrong.

They are therefore a great choice if you are looking for a no-nonsense stove, that should last for many years.

The fact that most can also incorporate other fuels, such as meths or hexy blocks, is an added bonus and further increases their versatility in the field.

The main consideration on which type to go for would be transportation.

If you want one that can fold away into a flat package, the box type is probably your best bet.

They take a little assembling, and they can be a little frustrating to put together at times, but once together, they are solid.

If portability isn’t your primary concern and you are happy with a fixed unit, the wood gas type is a great option.

These are already good to go, so are great from a time perspective, but do not fully pack down.

Your choice will ultimately boil down to space and your trip length.

What is a Solostove?

A Solostove is a type of wood gas stove that is cylindrical in design and incorporates a jacket, so that cold air can be drawn upwards from the bottom of the stove, warmed by the flames and then delivered to the top of the stove where it fans the flame and produces a hotter burn.

See the image above for a visual description.

What is a twig stove?

A twig stove is a type of camping/outdoor stove that uses natural materials, such as dry twigs, leaves, pine cones, pine needles etc.

These stoves are a great option if you have a reliable supply of fuel as they can be run on free to find materials.

Additionally, some models allow you to incorporate a basic burner, such as a Trangia or you can just use a basic hexy block. See above for more on these.

Meth burners

Trangia Meth Alcohol Burner Bushcraft Stove
Trangia Spirit Burner

Sometimes known as an alcohol or spirit burner, this style of stove is another simple option for bushcraft activities.

They are generally known as Trangias, although this is a brand name and they are not all made by Trangia.

These stoves are small in design, lightweight and portable.

You will need some form of pot support as well, as these will not generally work with a pot placed directly on them.

However, there are many options available.

How does a Trangia work?

These burners all work on the same principle, in that you partially fill the main central chamber with fuel, then light it.

The main chamber will slowly burn (sometimes it’s very hard to see) and heat up the stove and fuel.

Once it is up to operating temperature, the fuel that is in the outside chamber, starts to vapourise.

This vapour then rises up to the small pinprick vents at the top, where it combusts.

This is often referred to as ‘blooming’ and means the burner is now ready to cook on.

Trangia spirit burner

The Trangia Spirit Burner pictured above is the best known and most widely used meth/alcohol burner out there.

Low cost, virtually indestructible and brilliantly simple in its design, this is a fantastic, relatively lightweight stove, with a multitude of applications.

Designed back in 1951, at Trangia’s headquarters in Sweden, not much has changed.

It is made of brass, with a weight of 110g and consists of the main burner unit, screw-on lid and a simmer ring.

The simmer ring’s design allows the flame to be regulated and also allows you to extinguish the burner completely when finished.

The stove is designed to run on methylated spirits (denatured alcohol). This fuel can be obtained very cheaply from your local hardware store.

It is worth noting that this burner can be used on its own if it is placed in a sheltered depression and your cooking vessel suspended above.

In general, though, the spirit burner is designed to be used inside a cooking system.

Examples include Trangia’s popular 25-2 cooking set or other makes such as the Honey Stove mentioned above.

The meth (or alcohol burner) is an extremely simple and effective cooking system, that has stood the test of time.

Esbit alcohol burner stove

Esbit Alcohol Burner Methylated Stove - bushcraft stoves
Esbit alcohol stove

A good alternative to the Trangia is the Esbit Alcohol Burner.

It is based on the Trangia, however, the Esbit also incorporates a foldaway handle, that operates the simmer ring.

This lessens the possibility of you burning your fingers when adjusting the flame – making it more user friendly.

You can purchase the Esbit here: USA | UK | CAN

Gas stoves

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Gas Stove
MSR PocketRocket 2 Gas Stove

One of the most convenient and simple options out there is the gas stove.

As long as you have a ready supply of canisters, these stoves are a great choice for your cooking needs.

They provide a quick, clean heat-source, providing minimum hassle for the user. They are just as quick to dismantle and pack away.

Gas selection

Historically, gas canisters were 100% butane. This is the worst performing gas for stoves.

In the early days, 100% butane fueled gas stoves struggled to work at all in cold conditions.

This is due to the fact that butane’s boiling point is approximately -2 deg C.

Essentially, this means that below -2 deg C, butane gas reverts back into a liquid.

It, therefore, loses its pressure and does not want to leave the canister, as it is no longer a gas.

This doesn’t help matters if you are relying on it to ignite.

What gas do you use for a camping stove? The modern solution

In more recent years, nearly all gas canisters are a butane/propane mix, generally around 70% butane and 30% propane.

Propane has a much lower boiling point of around -42 deg C.

When combined with butane, the mixture provides good performance well into the minus figures.

Another gas commonly used in isobutane.

This shares the same chemical structure as butane but delivers higher pressure, which increases flame performance.

If you want to read more about gas stove fuel options see the MSR article here.

Modern gas stoves may struggle at extreme altitudes, but for most applications, they will operate absolutely fine.

Due to the above, these stoves are slowly becoming the choice of professional mountaineers.

This is due to their simplicity and the fact that they are generally more lightweight and safer in use than liquid fuel options.

Fuel availability

One thing with gas stoves is that you do need to have the correct gas canister cartridge for your stove.

You also need to be able to find these fairly easily should you need to get replacements.

This is not usually a problem in more developed parts of the world, but may be an issue in more remote regions.,

Make sure to check this before setting off if you are likely to need more.

How does a camping stove work?

In general, most gas stoves simply require you to:

  • attach the gas canister by screwing it onto the burner (clockwise)
  • deploy the pan and stove supports (if any)
  • turn on gas by opening the valve
  • ignite

Simplicity!

Some stoves even feature an integrated piezo ignition, which ignites the gas for you when you turn on the gas.

This is a handy feature to have.

However, even if your stove has this, you should always carry an alternative form of ignition.

This could be a ferro rod or lighter, in case the piezo ignition fails for whatever reason.

Top-mounted canister stoves

This is the most common type (see picture above). The gas canister screws onto the bottom of the burner and acts as the stove’s base.

Because of this, top-mounted stoves require a very stable and level surface to place the complete unit on.

This style of stove set-up often becomes top-heavy.

This is especially true if you have a lot of liquid in the cooking vessel that might slosh from side to side.

This sloshing can then end up tipping the stove over, including your food.

It is therefore important to site the stove correctly in the first place, on a flat, level surface.

Be vigilant of any gusts of wind that might have your pot toppling.

You also need to guard against you or your companions knocking into it.

Although the above is a bit of a drawback with this style, the fact that they are simple and generally cheaper than other designs, makes them a popular and solid choice for your bushcraft cooking needs.

Remote mounted canister stoves

Primus Express Spider 2 Gas Stove - bushcraft stoves
Primus Express Spider 2

This style of gas stove is by far the most stable, due to the burner being much lower to the ground and having a set of wide legs for stabilisation and support.

The gas canister is attached to a hose that allows the canister to sit to one side, adjacent to the burner.

However, due to the additional materials used, they are generally a little more expensive to buy than the top-mounted style.

Other than that, they generally operate in much the same way as topmounted stoves.

Liquid fuel portable stoves

MSR XGK EX Liquid Fuel Stove
MSR XGK EX

Liquid fuel stoves generally cost more than their gas-fired cousins.

They also usually weigh more and involve a bit more effort in their operation.

With this in mind, why would you choose to opt for liquid fuel over the more common gas cartridge type?

What are the advantages of a liquid fuel stove?

In most cases, it chiefly centers around the fuel that you can obtain.

If you are operating in remote locations, for extended periods, a liquid fuel stove may be the better option over gas or other types.

The reason for this is that gas canisters are not always readily available should you run out.

They are usually stocked in outdoor shops and available online.

However, if you are out of area and certainly if you are in a different country, you may not be able to come across them quite so easily.

You can obviously bring 1 or 2 in your pack when you are on shorter outings.

For extended trips though, such as expeditions etc, you need to be mindful of how much fuel you are likely to use.

It is likely that you will find that you do not have the room to be taking heaps of gas canisters with you.

Added to this, once used, empty gas canisters need to be brought out with you and disposed of responsibly.

This creates additional dead weight and space that you will have to carry out with you.

Here lies the advantage of liquid fuel stoves!

In most places around the world, you can find some form of fuel to use in your stove.

Available fuels

Most liquid fuel stoves burn a variety of fuels, that are readily available across the globe, so you should never (hopefully) find yourself without a fuel source.

These include – white gas (also known as Coleman Fuel), petrol (auto gasoline), kerosene, diesel and more.

Read more on this here.

If you are travelling by vehicle, an additional benefit is that the stove can share the same fuel as the vehicle.

This can simplify things by eliminating the need for additional fuel storage.

How much fuel should you carry for your trip? Check out this MSR article here.

Economy

Because they can run on standard unleaded petrol or in some cases diesel and other fuels, they tend to be more cost-effective, when compared to resealable gas canisters.

This is especially true if you are on an extended trip.

This needs to be balanced with the fact that they are usually more costly to buy.

However, over the lifetime of the stove, this difference is negligible.

Safety procedures for using a liquid fuel stove

There are safety considerations to take on board when using liquid fuel stoves.

You have a bottle of extremely flammable liquid, usually petrol or similar, a few inches away from a roaring burner.

This sounds worse than it actually is, as the stove is obviously designed to operate this way and is safe as long as you use it sensibly.

How to fill a liquid stove fuel bottle

MSR Stove Liquid Fuel Bottles
MSR Fuel Bottles

One of the big things to remember is to wipe everything down after filling the fuel bottle, as you will no doubt spill a small amount whilst doing this.

Tip – It sounds obvious, but do not fill the bottle over its max fill line.

If you do, when you go to insert the pump, it will spurt out fuel all over your hands and the bottle, as the fuel pump takes up quite a bit of volume.

Only operate the stove once the stove is properly connected and you are sure there is no fuel residue left on the outside.

Can you use a camping stove inside a tent?

As with any stove, only use in a well-ventilated area. It’s not a great idea to use stoves inside of tents.

Apart from the obvious reason of potentially burning the tent down, you can get carbon monoxide poisoning too.

Follow the instructions and use some common sense and you won’t go too far wrong.

Remember, gas and other stoves are potentially hazardous too.

How to use a liquid fuel stove

One thing to note is that liquid fuel stoves require priming before they will work.

This means that a small amount of fuel is pumped into the stove and burnt off before it can be used properly.

The main purpose of priming is to heat up the section of metal tube that sits over the top of the burner.

This is known as the Generator Tube.

This is what fuel passes through before it reaches the burner. Once this is warm, it transfers heat to the fuel passing through it.

This, in turn, enables the now heated fuel to vapourise and combust correctly when it reaches the actual burner.

Stove Maintenance

MSR Expedition Service Kit for MSR Stoves
MSR Expedition Service Kit

There are more moving parts on a liquid fuel stove as opposed to gas.

Due to this, although very reliable, it is essential to carry some form of field repair kit if you are relying on your stove to function effectively.

Most of the stoves mentioned below will come with a small parts kit included.

However, it is wise to bolster this with some extra parts such as those included in the MSR expedition service kit.

Periodic maintenance of the stove is required to ensure long term performance.

The MSR expedition service kits will cover most eventualities in the field and are a good item to carry with you.

If looked after, and properly maintained, these stoves should last a lifetime.

Summary

There are many options available when selecting a bushcraft stove.

If you have a good supply of small twigs etc and don’t mind longer boil times, the closest and most environmentally sustainable option is the wood type, such as the Solo Stove, or Honey Stove.

The fact that this fuel is usually free and readily available, further adds to their appeal.

However, if you want or need to go down the fuel route, meths, gas and liquid fuel stoves are all excellent in their own right.

Your choice will depend on the environment you will be in at the time, trip length and of course, personal preference.

Hopefully, this post has outlined the main bushcraft stove options available.

If you feel you would like anything else mentioned, please leave a comment below or use the contact us page and I will do my best to oblige.

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