The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild - Dave Canterbury (2016)

Part I. Packed-In Food

Chapter 4. Supplemental Foodstuffs

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

—Mark Twain

We’ve covered the basic building blocks of what you need to think about packing in—the main foods that will make up the bulk of your meals. But you will also want to think about packing in supplemental foodstuffs—items that will enhance your experience without adding too much bulk or take up too much space. For example, carrying dehydrated milk lets you fix a simple breakfast cereal without too much effort—and without having to light a fire.

Basic Ingredients

With all the types of food choices we have discussed prior to this point you may ask, “Why carry so many ingredients and powders like flour and baking powder?” Well, the simple answer is that there really is no need, especially for a shorter-term camp or trip.

However, there are some ingredients you’ll want to carry even if you’re planning to make most of your meals from JAW packets. One of these is salt. The other is baking soda. Its uses are so many as to make it worthwhile to carry even if you never cook with it.

Uses for baking soda:

·        Toothpaste

·        Dishwashing

·        Dry shampoo

·        Deodorant

·        Stain removal

·        Cleaning metal tools

·        Antacid (medicinal)

·        Treating insect bites (medicinal)


I believe in carrying items that have a multiuse element and spices are no different. Many spices are also medicinal so your camp cupboard also becomes the medicine chest. Spices should be used on wild game very sparingly as they have a full flavor all their own that only requires a bit of salt in the end to make them very pleasing and palatable.

However, there are many uses in cooking with spices that help the body at the same time that they flavor our food:

·        Cayenne has the ingredient capsaicin, which is used in many prescription and over-the-counter medicines to help relieve pain. It is believed to be an anti-inflammatory. If you’re feeling a cold coming on, some cayenne sprinkled on your lunch can help reduce congestion.

·        Cinnamon has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help improve blood sugar control and reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol, so it is thought to be heart-healthy.

·        Clove is another spice with anti-inflammatory properties. It may also reduce cartilage and bone damage caused by arthritis. You can bite down on a clove to help reduce the pain from a toothache.

·        Coriander can help calm digestive tract problems, like irritable bowel syndrome. It is also an antioxidant.

·        Garlic is thought to help reduce cholesterol levels and has antioxidant properties. Garlic can be harvested wild in many areas of the U.S. in spring and summer. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the plant smells like garlic! If it doesn’t, it probably isn’t garlic and may be harmful to eat.

·        Ginger is used in many cultures as an aid to digestion. It is also an anti-inflammatory and has shown promise in preventing migraines. Many people have found it helps with nausea.

·        Mustard helps break up congestion (similar to cayenne) and making a footbath with a little mustard powder added to water can help treat athlete’s foot.

·        Nutmeg may have heart-protecting properties and it appears to kill certain cavity-causing microbes.

·        Sage may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, according to several studies. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

·        Turmeric is used in some cultures as an aid to digestion. It is also an anti-inflammatory.

See Chapter 18: Foraging, for more information on medicinal uses of herbs and other plants.

9781440598524 Winter Cres

Winter cress (edible)


Honey is almost a perfect food. It has so much nutritional value it could stand alone as a short-term survival food. It has the obvious benefit of lasting virtually forever—it has been found in Egyptian tombs and still viable to this day. It is a great source of daily energy and a fantastic medicine, making it multifunctional in the camp kitchen. It can replace any syrup for pancakes or biscuits and makes a great sugar replacement for teas and coffee.

Bushcraft Tip

Honey has been used in medicine for thousands of years. It was used to treat wounds and infections. Some kinds of honey have been shown to have an antimicrobial property. Nowadays, honey is being used more and more frequently to help treat ulcers and skin infections.

Cocoa, Teas, and Coffee

Every campfire needs a kettle for water specifically being heated for one thing: the camper’s favored drink. Nothing goes down better to many folks than a warm drink in the morning as well as after a nice evening meal. The best thing about beverages in general is that the main ingredient comes in powder form, making it easy to both store and carry.

What could be more traditional than hot cocoa around the campfire? Is there any better way to lift your spirits after a cold day? There are many types of hot cocoa mixes that will suit a camper’s needs, and the chocolate flavoring can be added to other ingredients to make chocolate-flavored desserts, if you’re of a mind to do so.

I prefer to carry a chocolate milk powder made from actual milk. I find the Country Cream brand works very well. It can be used in some other recipes calling for milk to add a chocolate twist—such as with cookies or breads and cereals like oatmeal and farina.

Many types of teas have medicinal or side benefits in addition to be being revitalizing and warming. Some herbal teas, like chamomile, can help you relax and unwind after a long day at camp. Most folks these days seem to prefer tea bags over brewing loose-leaf tea using a tea ball when camping out, but a tea ball allows you to make medicinal teas as well. Try out a few varieties at home before packing any along.

Bushcraft Tip

Chaga (chaga mushroom) is a type of fungus that grows on birch trees. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is thought to contain cancer-fighting compounds. Chaga can be used like any other tea and ground before adding boiling water to it or it can be used in a chunk and placed in a kettle of hot water to steep. In addition to its medicinal benefits, this naturally occurring fungus also makes a great fire tinder resource, being one of the few items that will ignite when dry with a low-temperature spark.

And we can’t forget coffee. Coffee is an American tradition, as romantic as the cowboy era. A nice pot of hot coffee makes the weary camper rise to any morning occasion simply by the smell. What type of coffee you carry is a personal preference as is the form you carry (ground, instant, or beans). If you are a coffee drinker, far be it from me to tell you how to make it—everyone has a favorite method.

Cowboy Coffee

In its simplest form for camping and tramping I prefer just ground coffee I can add to the pot.

1 heaping tablespoon ground coffee per 1 cup water, adjusted to taste

1.    Add coffee and water to a lidded pot or coffeepot and place over a hot fire. Bring to a boil.

2.    Let the grounds settle, then add a bit of cold water to further settle the grounds. Pour and enjoy.

Tips and Tricks

·        Don’t throw away used tea bags. Used tea bags can make an emergency first-aid item as a poultice, being astringent in nature.

·        Old Bay Seasoning mix is one of my favorites. I use it in many recipes. Having a spice mix along cuts down on the number of individual spices I need to pack in.

·        You can purchase citric acid in powder form to take the place of vinegar and lemon and lime juice.

·        Carrying spices in their original containers can get bulky, so you can transfer them to labeled snack-sized storage bags, stackable pill containers (the kind you can buy at the drugstore), or any small plastic container you have on hand.

·        You can reuse your coffee grounds a time or two, although the coffee gets progressively weaker, so you’ll use more grounds per cup.