Carrots are often not thought of as a great item to cook in a campfire. These are vegetables that can be truly wonderful in camp, though, even for people who don’t particularly like carrots. They are normally inexpensive, healthy, great for stretching out meals, they go great with most camp meals, they are easy to make and they are variable, according to the tastes of the people in camp.
The operative phrase here is ‘in the campfire,’ which presupposes a method of baking rather than cooking the carrots on a grill over the fire. Aluminum foil, large enough to completely enclose the carrot or carrots, is a preferred means of baking these vegetables in the campfire. With that established, cooking the carrots is simple, though allowing for many variations.
Before beginning, the fire should be allowed to burn down enough that at least a portion of it has coals that aren’t extremely hot. If the embers are too hot, the carrot can be burned rather than simply cooked. Double wrapping them in foil can help, but normally won’t prevent the carrots from burning, if the coals are too hot.
Many people prefer peeling the carrots prior to cooking them. They don’t necessarily have to be though, provided that the carrots have been rinsed and brushed clean. If they are very long, they might be chopped in half or in thirds, sideways, so the carrot pieces are manageable. Each segment should also be at least sliced in half, top to bottom, so that the heart of the carrot is split. This allows the carrots to cook faster. The carrot can then be put in the foil and put in the slow coals for cooking.
Basic campfire-baked carrots benefit from some butter prior to wrapping and cooking. Adding either brown sugar or maple syrup makes them sweet and delectable, provided that the temperature of the coals is low enough that the sugars won’t easily caramelize and turn black. Even if they do, the carrots are often quite tasty, but they may not look appetizing.
Onion carrots can be a special treat by adding diced onions or onion powder to the buttered carrots prior to baking. Garlic or garlic powder can also be used. In both cases, the carrot picks up on the delicious smell and flavor of the onions or garlic. Carrots done in this way taste great and the aroma can encourage healthy appetites, if such encouragement is needed.
Herb carrots are made simply by adding favorite herbs or seasonings to the carrots prior to cooking. For instance, basil, thyme or oregano can be added to the carrots, which are then cooked. Chili powder can also result in spicy carrots.
Celery stalks, mushrooms, potatoes or even tomato slices can be cooked with the carrots, allowing the flavors to mingle. Asparagus, broccoli and even cauliflower can also be cooked in the packet. As they cook, carrots usually take on some of the flavor of whatever they are cooked with.
The actual cooking is easy. After placing the foil packet in the coals, turn it over about every 5 minutes, using a cooking tool such as barbecue tongs to make sure that your hands don’t get too close to the heat source. The carrots should be done in 20 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the heat of the coals and the thickness of the carrots. To test the carrots, remove a packet from the coals, allow it to cool a little to keep from getting burned and push on the packet over a carrot. The carrot should be fairly soft when they are cooked. Be careful when unwrapping the foil packets to get to the cooked carrots though. The foil will usually contain the steam from the carrots, so the packets can cause burning of skin if care isn’t used when opening them.
Campfire cooked carrots can be fantastic when served with camp supper. They are tasty, healthy and easy to make. Cooking carrots this way is great for getting people who normally don’t like eating carrots to eat their share. The expense is minor and the carrots are almost as versatile as potatoes, so flavor variations are simple. Other vegetables can even be cooked with the carrots.