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Homesteading: outdoor ovens- questions regarding building materials

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bluegray
Morley, MI

June 28, 2009
3:26 PM

Post #6749226

Hi i have been reseraching building outdoor ovens, i am facinated with them.. however, i need to know if it is possible to build them without using fire brick. Can an outdoor oven be built using just fieldstone, and work without exploding? Any help would be appreciated, i have read about mixing clay with stray, and with some grasses. i have seen fieldstone on the outside, but not all the way through as the main building material.

thanks
porkpal
Richmond, TX

June 28, 2009
8:26 PM

Post #6750370

I think it is important that there be no moisture in your materials to avoid explosion. I don't, however, know what you can use besides fire brick.
AZgrammie
North of Heber, AZ
(Zone 6b)

June 28, 2009
10:11 PM

Post #6750827

Search the internet for info about the earthen ovens called "hornos" used by the New Mexican tribes and the Hopis. They have been using them for hundreds of years, if not thousands! Also look at solar ovens.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

October 25, 2009
12:08 AM

Post #7204908

We just ended up getting a Big Green Egg, because it also works as an oven and will bake pizza, bread and pies with a brick oven flavor, but they're expensive. Not as expensive as some of the ready-made outdoor oven inserts I've seen, though.
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

October 25, 2009
10:31 PM

Post #7207708

I'd be very leery of using the field stone because of the explosive possibility. Here in NM I've seen the hornos built of volcanic rock or adobe. There's also a book on building bread ovens... I read the review, but now I can't find the article. But I don't think they used anything but mud/adobe. I'll keep looking...
MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

October 25, 2009
11:23 PM

Post #7207871

Bernard Clayton's bread book has a simple oven construction that has intrigued me for years. We have an outdoor, wood fired, pizza oven from from Earthstone. Aside from pizza and flatbreads, I've smoked meats and fish and made amazing smoked sauces. An oven like mine has limitations though. It takes hours to build a fire that then must be evened out to proper cooking temps. Here's a photo. I've got much better, but don't know where I stashed them. DH calls it "Three Mile Island". It's encased in fieldstone with a huge slab in front.

I just built a fire pit at our cottage with a firebrick floor from our torn down, damaged chimney. I dug an 8" footing, lined it 4" deep with builder sand (course gravel) and layed the brick like a mosaic on the leveled sand. I then filled all the gaps with sand. The sides and back are leftover stacked field stone from the chimney as well. I fully intend to spit roast, grill, kettle cook and bake by tweaking this open fire. There are designs for makeshift ovens that work over campfires. I think my salvaged version might be more versatile than the Earthstone.

Please don't use any rock for a floor. It would be dangerous. The floor gets way too hot. Walls are fine. I do place individual fieldstones on the edges of my new fire pit to place cast iron for cooking though. Anything hot enough for pots should be safe for stone.

I'll post some follow ups here of the new firepit FYI
Laurel

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MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

October 25, 2009
11:26 PM

Post #7207885

So, you can see the footing and I'm leveling the sand with water before laying in the stone floor. BTW, the sand was leftover from our chimney rebuild (a tree fell on our house and destroyed our fireplace).

Thumbnail by MaypopLaurel
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MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

October 25, 2009
11:27 PM

Post #7207894

and I'm trying to configure a stack for the stone.

Thumbnail by MaypopLaurel
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MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

October 25, 2009
11:33 PM

Post #7207914

Coming along.

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MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

October 25, 2009
11:37 PM

Post #7207929

DH is enjoying my stone work and the Jambalaya! This photo is from the last week. We had a beautiful, starry, Fall night to cook and enjoy the fire. We use "cleanup" wood that we'd not burn in our fireplace or woodstove.
Laurel

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Hineni
Paris, TN
(Zone 6b)

December 4, 2009
5:07 AM

Post #7333765

Laurel, that is WAY cool, and gives me yet another project idea for the new place, if I EVER get the new place. Grrrr. Thank you for sharing!
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

December 4, 2009
6:05 PM

Post #7335024

What a great idea, using salvaged materials from old chimneys!

I was intrigued to learn that the colonial cooks raked the necessary coals out of the fire onto the hearth to cook over; I always thought they just cooked over the fire within the fireplace.

I'll try and get a picture of an horno one of these days... the average family-sized one is not so big as yours, and I think it's used a little differently... a big fire is built and let burn overnight, then in the morning the coals are raked out, and the stuff to be baked is put in, in succession depending on baking temps. So for example, if you were going to make chicos, you'd put the ears of green corn in to be roasted, seal the horno, and come back at the end of the day, pull out the corn, and put in the bread and pies to be baked. Seal the oven, and when the bread was done, come back and take that out, and probably cook something else in there next. One firing can make a lot of food!
CajuninKy
Biggs, KY
(Zone 6a)

December 4, 2009
11:51 PM

Post #7335911

Really nice Maypop. Is there a top on your firepit/place?
MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

December 9, 2009
1:24 AM

Post #7350254

Thanks Hineni...seems like your going to be way busy for a while. I tossed this idea around for years before the materials fell in my lap.

Sorry we seem to have lost Bluegray here.

Jay, the Atlanta oven in the first photo is like a horno. It's an Earthstone http://www.earthstoneovens.com/. Can't find additional photos, but would be glad to take some new ones and post if anyone is interested. It was a birthday gift from DH, years ago, because I'd been experimenting with stove, hearth, open fire and other wood fired cooking modes over the years. I've baked all kinds of bread with wood, but like flatbreads such as chapatti, tortillas, pitas, nan, etc. best. Loaf bread can be baked in a cast iron Dutch oven over an open fire. The Bernard Clayton bread book oven I mentioned above would be much more economical to build and I bet every bit as versatile as mine (probably more so). There are things I'd do differently if starting from scratch.

Cajun, the pit/place has no top yet. It will. We salvaged the (not so) old metal roof, with the stone, for future use. The stone is fluid and can easily be re-configured. I'd like to add a pot crane and removable horizontal rebar with an expanded metal top for grilling. A temporary oven is easily created on an open fire pit/place with metal roofing and tin snips.
Laurel

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