The Humble Bush Pot!
I think pretty much every bushcrafter, hiker, and camper under the sun has one, or more likely a few, “bush pot” style cooking containers. You can’t really oversell the value of a good metal container for cooking meals, making tea or coffee, and the occasional gathering of berries or other goodies from the woods. I don’t imagine anything in this post is going to be particularly new or brilliant, but while moving over all our images from old to new website blogs I realized this same bushpot was in almost as many pics as any of our parangs and deserves its own little post.
My 750ml Titanium Bushpot has been adventuring with me out in the woods for at least seven years now. I’ve used it hundreds of times to boild water for tea, make oatmeal, cook soups of all kinds, and gather things like juniper berries and huckleberries to supplement my teas with. I don’t have a clue what brand it is, but they all seem to run around the same price point and have the same design.
The lid is a nice bonus that keeps things out of it while you’re boiling water or just keeps it warmer for a little longer if you’re rehydrating stuff in it. Additionally, the standard size 750ml titanium pot lid fits on my kuksa (uberleben’s larger one, found here). I just recently discovered this and I am pumped, this’ll let me steep my tea in my kuksa and keep it covered from stuff. Wohooo.
Cooking in a Bushpot
Truthfully, I love soups and stews in any weather. That’s going to be most of my experience. I know there are tons of folks who use theirs as mini ovens to make a biscuit or two, but I’m pretty set with just a nice soup. It’s extra hydration, and an easy way to quickly warm up. The clean up is also super easy. I don’t really follow recipes so much as I just bring out tried and true ingredients, components, and spices to make my own. Here’s what’s currently in my “bush pantry” for soup:
- Instant Rice
- Lentils (green and red)
- Ramen (pre-crushed up for easier travel, cooks like a rice)
- Instant mashed potatoes (an amazing thickener for stick-to-your-ribs stews!)
- Fideo noodles
- Dried soup mix(es)
- Pre-made miso soups + seaweed
- Dehydrated mushrooms
These all give me plenty of options for starches, carbs, and some extra veges from the soup mixes. With all these in the cabinet I just mix and match before a trip, using old vitamin containers to store smaller portions. One small container like that will hold enough quinoa, fideo, or crushed ramen for multiple soups. For extra kick, I made this little travelling spice rack from an old cigarillo tin + some glass vials (inspired by this video). If you want to make your own, make sure to get the plastic screw tops not corks. To add some extra green if I need it, I’ll sometimes bring in some fresh spinach or kale that I vacuum seal. For protein, any cured meat or jerky will rehydrate into the soup great.
Use your Bail
One of the most important parts of the part in my opinion is the bail. It’s by far the simplest way to elevate your pot over flame. Suspend your bushpot over flames super easy with the bail. I almost always just cut a notch into a decent sized stick and prop it against rocks for this, but if you’re feeling crafty or have one already made you can use a fancy tripod. Occasionally I just place the pot on the coals directly and move it on and off with a notched stick. You do you.
It's simple! One of the reasons I prefer soups is that cleanup is suuuuper easy, you can just rinse it out in a creek or by the lake and be good to go. If things get sticky (lookin' at you, oatmeal), I'll scrub it out with pine needles or leaves the best I can, then rinse nearby water, then put it back on the fire upside down. Scorching the remnants into ash makes scrubbing them out effortless and easy! I've yet to have a meal that couldn't be simply wiped or burned out of the pot.
A Lid: this one is obvious, it keeps stuff out of your pot and keeps heat in when you’re boiling water or rehydrating things. Most pots I’ve seen come with a lid these days.
A Kuksa: Or any other more “drinkable” container. One of the few downsides to the metal bushpot is trying drink directly from it… it gets hot, fast! Particularly for the titanium ones, drinking hot tea from it is not the best experience. Plus, who doesn’t love an awesome little camp mug!
Small Twig Stove: For hot drinks and quick meals this is the way to go. For many folks something like this is a requirement anyway, as many national and state parks don’t allow groundfires. This will be the fastest way to get flame and boil water, hands down.
Spice Kit: if you’re making food in your bushpot, you want it to taste delicious. I’m not going to tell you what spice you need to bring, but bring something. I keep: Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Cumin/Comino, Ground Ginger (also good in teas!), Chili Powder + Paprika (not smoked!), Smoked Paprika. It’s hard to have a bland meal with those at your fingertips.
Ultimately, the bushpot is an indispensable piece of my kit and I find myself using it almost every trip out. I imagine I’m not alone, but if you don’t have one already, maybe this quick post convinces you. I promise you won’t be disappointed!