It happens from time to time that I am asked questions about using a wood burning cook stove. I wanted to answer the most often asked questions here. Maybe this will help others also.
For me, cooking on a wood stove is not much different than cooking over a campfire. The premise is the same. Only difference is that food cooks faster on the stove, in my opinion. Here is a picture of our wood stove. Each year, as soon as the temps are cool enough that I won’t be heating us out of the house, I start using this stove instead of the gas stove. This serves 2 purposes: saves on propane expense and it also heats the home. Here is a picture of our wood stove.
The first thing to consider in cooking on a wood stove is the wood being used. Soft woods, such as pine, will burn faster and put out far less heat than a hardwood. Soft wood also will cause creosote to build up faster. A hardwood will burn hotter and longer. This is what I prefer for most cooking and heating needs. In our area, pecan trees are a favorite of mine for cooking with. The wood is hard and burn very hot. I am able to cook a meal using less wood, which also saves us the extra work of cutting & splitting the extra amounts of wood.
The cookware that I use most, on both the gas and wood stoves, are the cast iron skillets and griddle. I prefer them over any other type. I also found a couple of years ago some old, thick walled sauce pans and dutch oven at an elderly woman’s garage sale. She was unable to lift these much heavier pans. In talking with her, I learned that she had these for nearly 40 years. For wood stove cooking, these heavy pans are perfect!
Metal trivets of varying heights are great to have for regulating heat. If I am needing a higher heat, I place the cookware directly on the stove. Trivets are used to raise cookware off of the stove surface when a lower “heat setting” is needed. I also control the heat of the stove by how full I stock it with the wood and the type of wood used.
During the cold months, when the wood stove is constantly in use, place an old tea kettle or camp-style coffee pot filled with water on the stove. The steam will prevent the air from drying out too much. I keep an old stock pot of water on the stove. This not only puts moisture back into the air, but I have a continuous supply of hot water available for cleaning, cooking, or a cup of tea.
Another old-time method of putting moisture back into the air is to place a stockpot of soup or stew placed on a trivet at the back of the stove. The stock pot is out of the way for tending the fire, yet will simmer all day. I start the soup or stew in the morning. It is like having a slow cooker. For stews, I will cook the meat first, then assemble the stew in the stock pot or dutch oven. Once assembled, I place it on a low trivet to simmer all day. If I ever notice that the stew or soup is boiling, I simply place a slightly taller trivet under it in place of the lower one. Some days, I am trading out trivets several times. It all depends on the wood being used.
Cooking on a wood stove takes practice. It is actually no different than changing from an electric stove to gas. You have to adjust your cooking slightly to the new heat source. The only difference is the issue of having to restock the wood from time to time.