Firewood is our universal fuel for campfires. And what’s better than sitting around a campfire with friends and family, especially after a delicious gourmet meal (preferably a recipe taken from The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook)! There’s just something so primal about listening to the snap of the embers, watching the flames flicker, enjoying the scent of the burning firewood, and gazing at the stars.
Whether you get the wood directly from the area you are camping in, bring your own, or buy it at the campsite, remember the old saying, “before starting a fire, collect the right wood.” It’s definitely worth knowing which wood is best for your fire, as it will make life a lot easier. When choosing firewood, you need to know the difference between hard wood and soft wood. Hardwood will burn longer than soft wood, but a soft wood, like pine or spruce, is good for getting the fire started, yet not so good for cooking. If you want a long burning campfire, opt for hardwood, like oak, birch or maple. Let the wood burn down to some really hot embers and throw those ribs on your Tuscan grill!
We often stock up on hardwood along the way of our drive to the campsite. The passenger seats of our SUVs, if available, can fit quite a number of logs. We have a couple of choice places that sell oak wood on the honor system. One is a ranch several miles off the beaten path and the other is a farm that sells eggs, avocados, oranges, lemons, kindling and firewood And we know to get there very early if we want to grab a dozen of the precious eggs. It seems everyone in the area knows how fresh they are. The hens that lay them are usually running around our feet.
If you camp often, you might want to buy a half cord of wood and store it at home. That way, if stored properly, you’ll always have a dry supply of campfire wood when you need it. Let’s face it, those small parcels of firewood they sell at the campsite can end up costing you a bundle. None of us have space for a lot of wood so we live with buying a few bundles of pine at the campground and interspersing it with the oak.
If you have leftover wood and don’t feel like carting it home, be a good neighbor and give it to a nearby camper! We guarantee it’ll make their day. Of course, never leave your campfire unattended. Make sure it is completely out before you leave the campground.
Our favorite campground in Big Sur (and where we tested a majority of the recipes in our cookbook) is closed indefinitely due to a fire in the area that has so far destroyed 67,000 acres and 60 homes, all because of an illegal, unattended fire. Being watchful of our already delicate natural world is no longer an option – it’s a duty and a commitment we must make for all our sakes!
Be well, stay safe, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Gail, Lindsey and Denise
The Gourmet Girls on Fire!