Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Severe weather events fueled by climate change are causing more power outages and extended outages. In addition, some energy companies are scheduling blackouts as a way to help their aging power lines cope with peak usage times and to help lower fire risks during forecasted high winds.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American home experienced over eight hours without power in 2020. That number is more than double the outage time of just five years ago.
You may already have found ways to heat water and other liquids during a blackout. But what about baked goods?
This article offers ways to bake food during a power outage. However, before we get into the list, here is an important warning. Be mindful of safety precautions when using alternative cooking methods. Some can produce harmful fumes or present a fire hazard, especially when used indoors.
Also, it’s a good idea to practice these methods well in advance of an emergency. That way, you’ll be familiar with the process and be sure to have the necessary equipment on hand. Now, onto the list.
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A Dutch oven is a heavy cast iron cooking pot that you can use for baking bread and other foods. You can hang the pot over a fireplace or firepit if the pot has handles. And, in many cases, you can set it directly on hot coals.
You’ll need to monitor the bread carefully to avoid burning it. Camping Dutch ovens often have cast iron legs that allow you to place the pot directly in the fire, and some have lid lifters to help you check the progress.
Here is a recipe for campfire bread in a Dutch oven. And here is a list of Dutch oven recipes. Also, here is a video that shows the process of using a tripod to hang the pot over a campfire.
An earth oven – sometimes called a ground oven – is an ancient baking and cooking method. Made from clay, sand, water, straw, and sometimes newspaper, an earth oven is a pit in the ground with a fire built inside it.
This article in Mother Earth News describes how to build an earth oven. And this video shows how to build and use an earth oven and bake in it the next day.
As the name implies, this oven relies on radiant energy to bake food. An advantage of this method is you can see the food as it bakes. A possible disadvantage is that this type of oven depends on a consistent supply of high heat.
Learn more about these ovens here, and here’s a video that shows the steps for making a reflector oven.
A solar oven harnesses the sun’s energy to cook. Homemade solar ovens range from ones using recycled pizza boxes to large structures with reflective, porous, and glazed surfaces. You can also purchase solar ovens.
Whatever type you use, a solar oven requires sunlight. You’ll need to position the oven where it gets the most direct sunlight, and cooking times will vary accordingly. This video shows a homemade solar oven that heats to 350 degrees and costs about $200 to build. Check out the comments for links to the supplies.
The Wonderbag is an ingenious invention that uses heat retention to allow food to continue to bake after removing it from a heat source. Some people describe the Wonderbag as a non-electric slow cooker.
Check out this video for more information. And if you’d like to try your hand at making your own thermal cooking bag, watch this video.
Used throughout the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and parts of Central Asia and China, the tandoor oven can vary in size from a small, portable jug to a large, permanent structure.
However, all tandoor ovens are made of clay and some insulating material like mud or concrete on the outside. They typically curve inward toward the top to help concentrate the heat from a fire below. A top opening allows for access and ventilation.
This video shows how to use a tandoor oven in the backyard. This article offers instructions on making a mini tandoor oven from several clay pots.
A volcano stove allows you to bake outside with propane, wood, or charcoal. Some models are collapsible and easy to store or carry.
A significant advantage of the volcano stove is that it only needs a small amount of fuel. The volcano design sends heat up, not out.
Here’s a video showing how to cook with an older model. And here’s a link to a newer, portable version.
Yes, you can even bake bread using your outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Here are the basic steps:
- Preheat the grill.
- Preheat a cast iron pot on the grill.
- Pour in the bread dough.
- Cover the grill. (You don’t need the pot lid.)
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees.
For more information, check out this advice from Weber.
Tea Light Oven
Also called a HERC (Home Emergency Radiant Cooking) oven, a tea light oven harnesses the thermal energy from 10 or more inexpensive tea light candles, stores it in stones, and releases it back as radiant energy to heat your food.
You can see how easy and inexpensive the process can be by watching this video. Or you can buy a HERC oven for emergency use here.
Hay Box Oven
A hay box oven is an insulated box that traps thermal heat to bake and cook food. This video demonstrated the process. You’ll need a pot with two handles that fit inside the box.
Or, check out the easy steps for making a hay box oven outlined in this article.
As wild weather events and an aging infrastructure continue to plague us, power outages are no longer an “if” but a “when.” Hopefully, you can use these ideas and some preparation to continue feeding your family nourishing food when the lights go out.
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