ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cooking With Wood Cook Stoves

Updated on May 16, 2012
My dream wood stove!
My dream wood stove! | Source

When we spend time thinking about new cooking appliances we are usually limited to electric, natural gas, or propane compatible devices. The market is flooded with smaller electric appliances that range from microwaves to the newest quick cooking infomercial gadget. In days gone by our grandparents had a very different set of choices: coal or wood fired cookstoves. (I use cookstove in an effort to differentiate from other wood fired stoves. It may not be grammatically correct, but bear with me.)

I grew up in a home that was warmed by wood. My great-grandparents spent dark winter mornings stoking the wood heater to warm the areas of our home that we kept open in the cold winter months. Like their parents before them, to conserve on both fuel and physical energy, the huge two story farmhouse had portions ‘shut off’ from the rest of the house. Three rooms (aside from the bathroom), were kept open and heated.

I have fond memories of my first efforts at cooking. My granny, (that is how I kept up with all of my grandmothers – one was granny, her daughter was my mawmaw), had small pans she gave to me to use on the wood heater. The very first item I ‘cooked’ was cut carrots for dinner. I carefully cut the carrots with my butterknife, poured them into a little saucepan, and proceeded to load them with enough pepper to cause my ‘pawpaw’ to swear he’d never touch another thing I put on the table unless he had a cold. Apparently lukewarm, hard, peppery carrots are not considered gourmet food.

Hot and Fast vs. Warm and Slow

Luckily, I paid attention later when my granny made meals. When I left home I moved to a hobby farm where I started as a farm hand and moved up to being in charge of much of the day to day operations. My boss had used the cabin I was given as his own, it included an antique wood cookstove that was situated in the center of the kitchen. I was excited to try it out, but had to wait until cool fall weather.

I found out that cooking on top of the stove was fairly easy. In most wood cookstoves the ‘fire box’ is located to the left of the oven area. Some also have a closed shelf that is about eye-level called a ‘bread warmer’. When using the wood cookstove you will build a fire in the firebox and keep it going while you are cooking. The heat of the fire will depend on the type of wood you choose and how much wood you add to it during burning.

Soft woods make a hot, fast fire. This means that the wood burns away quickly, but is also very hot while it is burning. Hard woods burn away slower and produce a more even heat. To get a fire started in your cookstove, choose a soft wood such as pine or cedar for kindling, then move on to adding harder woods, hickory is a great choice for cooking. Don’t let wood choices deter you from trying to cook with wood – a fire is a fire is a fire. Just keep an eye on your fire and food.

Rotating and Other Tips

You can adjust the cooking heat of your fire by using different woods, but the top of your stove also has different heating levels. Directly over the firebox is high, the middle of the stove surface is medium/medium high, and the farthest point from the fire is low. This is usually from left to right. Move your pots or pans as you need.

Cooking in the oven is a bit trickier. Since the firebox is right next to the oven, one side of the oven will be hotter than the other. This is why almost all baking recipes have instructions for cooks to rotate a baked food half-way through the baking process. If you do not rotate in a wood fired oven, you will have an item that is burned on one side and perfect on the other OR perfect on one side and raw on the other. Always pay attention to your baked items and rotate at least once during baking. (I prefer to rotate several times.)

The bread-warmer on a wood cookstove can be an amazing addition to your kitchen. Breads, biscuits, and other baked goods always taste their best when warm. Place fresh baked foods in the bread-warmer and they will retain their warm goodness until and even beyond dinner. A trick to keeping these breads from drying out – place a coffee cup in the bread-warmer over the warmest part of the stove full of water. The evaporation will keep the breads fresher.

One of my favorite things that requires little effort to make is baked sweet potatoes for breakfast. I had another heater, so if the fire in the cookstove died down at night, there was no worry that the house would be freezing in the morning. I did bank the coals before bed – this helped the coals stay alive in order to shorten the time to build the fire in the morning. It also radiated a soft, low heat at night which was perfect for sweet potatoes! Prick the skin on several large sweet potatoes (or yams), pop in the oven, and by morning you have a perfect handheld breakfast while tending the animals.

Some municipalities have laws regarding the use of wood fired heaters in the home. Before you take the time to purchase a wood cookstove, remember that you must abide by the same laws that govern wood heaters in your area. Installing such a cookstove is the same procedure you would use to install any freestanding wood heater. If you live in an area where you can use a wood heater, consider buying a wood cookstove the next time you need to purchase a heater. Cookstoves can be used for heating, cooking, and some have a water reservoir that can give you gallons of hot water on the cheap (or free!)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Julie Fletcher profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie Fletcher 

      6 years ago

      Thank you!

    • vims003 profile image

      Vimesh Ummer.U 

      6 years ago from india

      interesting...nice hub...


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)