Cooking on a Wood Stove



I did it!  This time I successfully made a full turkey dinner in my wood stove.  The last time I tried it, I had a different stove with some major problems and my wood wasn’t very dry.  So I will go through some of the things I have learned so you may not have to make some of my mistakes.

My previous stove had been stored in an open barn and when I rescued it I had to dig it out from years of hay….some rather rotten.  Because of this there was structural damage that would affect the efficiency.  I cleaned it up then heated and cooked on that stove all of one winter.  I didn’t have the metal working skills to do the repairs that could have made all the difference.

Most of the time I struggled to make it work.  I didn’t have a woodshed so my wood was wet.  This caused me to have to dry the wood before burning.  What a pain.  I never could get the oven to work very well because of the holes in the side of the stove that drew in cold air as I was trying to circulate the hot.  The time I tried a turkey in this stove it took me 12 hours to get it mostly done.  We cut off the outside for dinner and I cooked the rest for soup.

So for this part I would suggest that the stove be repaired before trying to use.  That alone would save a lot of frustration.  The second thing would be to make sure the wood for your stove is covered, seasoned, and dry.

When I took out that stove, it left me with a burning desire for another stove and another try.  I hate not getting things to work.

Years later I found a stove that was listed as possible yard art.  As beautiful as the picture showed it, I purchased it sight unseen, had it brought home and cleaned it up.  Everything was there……everything except a lid lifter which I soon found at a second hand store.  There was some structural damage……a crack here, a little too much rust there, a warped top plate.  But there were no major functionality issues that I could see.  So I painted the black, polished the nickel, put it back together and lit a fire.

Smoke seeped through the warped top plate and I thought it was going to have to be yard art when the stovepipe took over and drew the smoke outside.  YAY!!  I now have a beautiful and functional stove.  And later, the turkey turned out amazing!

The 13 pound turkey was supposed to cook for 4 hours so I planned on at least 5.  And from previous experience, I thought it might take more.  Dinner was planned for around 2.  I lit the fire and started warming the stove at 7:30.  As it was heating, I prepared the stuffing and primed the bird.  The turkey was in the oven by 9.

To cook on wood, I have to keep the firebox full.  If I wait to fill it until the fire dies down a little, the whole stove cools off.  I had to go do chores after I put the turkey in and when I got back I could tell it had cooled more than I would have liked.  So for the rest of the time I was able to stay right on top of it.  What I find strange is that when I put my hand in the oven to test the heat it never felt as hot as I thought it should feel.  Not as hot as my propane oven.  But I kept at it.  I may have to buy an oven thermometer one of these days.  But our great grandparents didn’t have one……I intend to try to cook without it too.


Two o’clock came around and my guests were there.  We opened the oven and there it sat…….an absolutely beautiful turkey. YAY!  It only took the 5 hours that I hoped for!  It was not as brown as I would have liked it, but it was falling-off-the-bone done.  I put it back in to brown a little more as I cooked the sweet potatoes, and heated the buns and kept the corn soufflé warm in the warming oven.   When I took the turkey out, I made gravy and set on water for after dinner tea.

Before we ate, we washed our hands in water warmed in the boiler of the stove with my own homemade soap.  Then we sat down to an amazing dinner.  My guests called it a “Little House on the Prairie” experience and loved it!

Cooking on a wood stove takes more time than on a conventional stove.  But the flavor is somehow vastly different and worth every extra minute that it takes.

About Janolyn

I am a mother of 5 wonderful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. During the years that my children were growing up, we grew most of our own food with a vegetable garden, many fruit trees and berry patches. I grew flowers for joy. We milked goats and raised our own meats and eggs. I learned to make my own cheeses, butter, canned foods, sourdough, and fermented foods. I made our own health products like soap, hand creams, lip balm, and herbal tinctures. We live off the power grid and have learned to do without conveniences that most Americans consider essential. The land clearing and building has been mostly accomplished with hand tools; some of them even the right tool for the job. After a couple of miscarriages between #2 and #3 due to “standard medical procedures”, I consulted a midwife and my last 3 children were born safely at home. That was when I was first alerted to the fact that doctors did not know everything nor would they have the time to share it with their patients if they did. As I learned the basic principles of heath-through-nutrition from my midwife, I learned alternative gardening practices from her husband. That introduction started a lifelong love of learning the practical life of our ancestors. I want to share what I have been learning with you and learn from those who are also living a sustainable life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *