Category Archives: Foraging

Heiny Keg Rocket Stove

I had this heiny keg sitting around, it was a failed attempt at a wood stove, so I decided to try it out as a rocket stove. A rocket stove is a type of woodgas stove. I’ve built several woodgas stoves, and they’re a marvel, virtually no smoke and it burns small sticks. After about 20 minutes the wood turns into charcoal, making them dual purpose stoves. But that’s the problem, once that happens, if your food isn’t done, you have to put it out and reload with bits of sticks and start all over. I’ve never made a rocket stove, but as they’re fed differently, this is not an issue.

What “woodgas stove” means is that not only the wood is burned, but the smoke as well. This makes for high heat and fuel efficiency. If my woodgas stoves were marvels, the rocket stove is out of this world! It smokes for a few seconds after lighting, then only a wisp once in a while. It puts out even more heat than a woodgas stove, and burns for about an hour and a half before there’s too much ash in the bottom for it to function. I realize there may me some confusion, what with reference to woodgas stoves and saying the rocket stove is a woodgas stove. For now just google woodgas stove and that should clear things up. That’s a blog in itself.

Heiny Keg Rocket Stove

The front has that flattened 22 gauge steel on it because that was an attempt at creating a cooking surface for a tent stove. I couldn’t keep it airtight, so I made the stove out of a fresh keg.

Rocket Stove vs. Postal Stove. The Postal Stove just can’t go postal enough to win!

The postal stove uses WAY more wood to cook, and doesn’t get nearly as hot as the rocket stove. Don’t get me wrong, it works great, just not in comparison. I’ll prolly still use it in the camper, but for backyard cooking the rocket is my new go to. There are benefits to using both though, the postal stove is better for simmering, the rocket stove is excellent for rapid boiling and frying. The postal stove can be loaded and left to burn, which will keep food warm while you nap in your hammock tent, as I did yesterday. The rocket stove requires constant attention, as you’re feeding it twigs, and the fuel always has to be pushed in and more added as needed.

Dual Pot Stands, for frying pan or hiking pots

They aren’t pretty, but they work. Made from scrap 22 gauge steel.

Yesterdays Fixins: Ramps, potatoes, green beans and BACON!

This is my new favorite ramp recipe, what was made in the hikers cook pot was ramp soup with potatoes and mushrooms.

Ramps! On ulu cutting board!

Aforementioned ULU!

This knife is an excellent primitive culinary tool, used heavily by the Inuit, or Eskimos as most know them by. These razor sharp knives chop easily with a rocking motion, and are even so esteemed that Alaskans hold animal skinning contests with them.

Here you can see how little fuel is used

You can google how to make these insane stoves, I wish I hadn’t waited to make one. They require thermal mass (insulation) such as sand, cob, cat litter, vermiculite or wood ash. I used cat litter. The elbow was crafted from three coffee cans, 12 oz I believe. The fuel shelf was originally part of a coffee can, but I made one out of scrap 22 gauge steel, cuz I wanted it to be longer. This one was a prototype, I won’t jb weld any gaps or paint it. Most of the rockets I’ve seen are made from #10 cans, with soup cans for the elbow. I wasn’t sure it the larger diameter 12 oz coffee cans would work. My next model for backyard cooking will be done with an old propane tank and the same java cans. That one will be jb welded and painted, it’ll have a carry handle, be insulated with vermiculite, have legs, and an ash collector, for longer burn time.

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Ramp THIS mutha f&%#$@

I just couldn’t resist the title! Do you know what the best part of spring is? Ramps! No, not the things you jump on bikes, skateboards or rollerblades. The food. Still don’t know what I’m writing about? Do you like onions? Do you like garlic? Do you like getting expensive, gourmet food…for free? Then RAMPS mutha f*%&#$!

This year ramps are $12.99/lb

Ramps are a plant in the leek family. They only grow in the spring, in deciduous forests. They’re highly yummy, and a versatile food.

Appalachians dedicate festivals to these treats!

A small patch of ramps

These treats of Nature are worth the wait and the work to forage! There is a small danger when harvesting this treat worth noting: carnivorous rabbits. Carnivorous rabbits have been the cause of death of countless foragers, miners, and dwarves (who are lifetime miners). While there are only a handful of these vicious creatures in the world, it’s good to know of them and be cautious, as they’re extremly voracious.

The other, less terrifying, but much more real danger are these buggers:

Lilly of the valley

This cheeky lil bugger grows with ramps, and is not edible. It will make you ill. (My advice if you decide to go out for ramps is to eat alot of carrots, until you turn orange, as this will confuse carnivorous rabbits, making them think you’re vegetable, not meat.) Ramps have green, smooth, thick leaves. Lilly o’ the inverted mountain has the same, but with purple splotches. Avoid them. Never eat what you’re unsure of, but always put salt in your eyes.

In all seriousness, ramps are delicious, they can be made as a soup of their own, I like to add ham, a little bit of vinegar, salt, and hot sauce. A classic Appalachian recipe that I tried last night is potatoes with ramps fried in pork tallow (bacon fat). I also tried (today) green beans with ramps…another traditional hill billy recipe, but I couldn’t resist adding some bacon and potatoes. Damn good eating. I cooked both using my postal stove and new rocket stove…blogs about the latter soon to be published.