Wild Cooking, Pots and Forks

Pots and Bowls

Cooking with Hot Rocks

Cooking over a campfireUse wood, bone, horn, bark, or other similar material to make bowls. To make wooden bowls, use a hollowed out piece of wood that will hold your food and enough water to cook it in. Hang the wooden container over the fire and add heated rocks to the water and food. Remove the rocks as they cool and add more hot rocks until your food is cooked.

CAUTION: Do not use rocks with air pockets, such as limestone and sandstone. They may explode while heating in the fire.

Making a Wooden Bowl

Start a fire and burn until hot coals develop.  Find an old dead, dry piece of split wood that is somewhat shaped like you envision your bowl to be.  If you cannot find a piece of split wood, flatten one side by carving or pounding with a rock..  Remove the bark from the wood.  Lay the flat piece of wood on the ground and place a hot coal from the fire in the center of the wood.  Blow on the coal.  Remove the coal when it burns itself out.  Take a small rock or knife blade and scrape away the char and ash from the wood.  Place a new hot coal in the same indention and repeat burning and scraping until a large indention exists in the wood.

Using Other Materials to Make Pots and Bowls

Coconut split in twoA section of bamboo also works very well for cooking. Be sure you cut out a section between two sealed joints.  Trim out half of the bamboo to make a long, flat open container.  Suspend the pole on poles above the fire.  Note that a sealed section of bamboo will explode if heated because of trapped air and water in the section.

Coconuts are easy to use as bowls.  Cut the coconut in half and scrape out all the fruit.  Polish or sand the wood to smooth out the bowl.  If making at home, apply linseed oil or some similar sealant (make sure it is not a harmful chemical).

Sea shells and turtle shells can also be used as bowls.  Make sure they are thoroughly cleaned before using.

Making bowls in the wild and hanging over a fire


Forks, Knives, and Spoons

Ancient wooden spoonsCarve forks, knives, and spoons from non-resinous woods so that you do not get a wood resin aftertaste or do not taint the food. Non-resinous woods include oak, birch, cherry wood, and other hardwood trees.

NOTE: Do not use those trees that secrete a syrup or resin-like liquid on the bark or when cut (e.g. cedar).

Carve a piece of wood into the basic shape of the utensil (we’ll use a spoon for our example).  Next shape the back of the spoon bowl.  When shaping the spoon bowl, begin at the middle of the “bowl” and carve outward leaving enough on the rim to provide strength to the utensil.  Once the spoon is carved out, use sandpaper (or sand) to smooth the surface.

Choose a branch that is relatively straight and about the thickness of a pencil to make chopsticks.


You can make pots from turtle shells or wood. As described with bowls, using hot rocks in a hollowed out piece of wood is very effective. Bamboo is the best wood for making cooking containers.

To use turtle shells, first thoroughly boil the upper portion of the shell. Then use it to heat food and water over a flame.

Water Bottles

Waterskin water containerMake water bottles (aka waterskin) from the stomachs of larger animals. In a pinch, thoroughly flush the stomach out with water, then tie off the bottom leaving the top open, with some means of fastening it closed (such as cordage tied around it).

If you have time to prepare the stomach material

  1. Boil a pot of water.  Take the water off the heat and place the stomach in it.  Allow it to sit for 2 hours.
  2. Empty the water, boil another batch of water, and place the stomach in it again to soak for 2 hours.  Continue this until the water is clear after soaking.
  3. Turn the stomach inside out and scrape away the lining with a dull knife while holding the stomach under warm water.  When the water becomes cloudy, replace it with fresh warm water.  Continue until the inner lining of the stomach is clean.  Be careful to not puncture the stomach.
  4. Boil a pot of water.  Take the water off the heat and place the stomach in it.  Soak for 30 minutes.
  5. Sew one end of the stomach to close it.  Roll the end over the seam and sew it again.
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