STEP 1 Start by digging a pit in the soil, or collecting loose soil and sand for a mound. The pit can be any depth and width, and it can be dug in the dirt, clay or sand. The pit can be as small as one foot deep by one foot wide; or as big as you have rocks and food to fill it. Any shape will work.
STEP 2 Collect a pile of local rocks that are capable of handling a lot of heat. Make sure you have enough to fill the bottom of the pit, and you can even place them in there like a puzzle to see where the stones fit best.
STEP 3 You now have a choice now of leaving the stones in the pit and building the fire on top of them - or taking the rocks out of the pit and placing them in a big fire. Either way, the stones should be heated for two hours. If you heat the rocks in the pit, you must scoop the remaining wood, charcoal, coals and ash out of the pit when the rocks are hot enough. The wood, ash and charcoal may give the food an unpleasant flavor otherwise. If you heat the stones outside the pit, use a shovel or a large green wood pole to roll or push the rocks into the pit.
STEP 4 Gather your green vegetation during the 2 hour rock-firing time. Good steam pit vegetation can be green grass, seaweed, pine boughs full of green needles, and any other abundant non-toxic green plant material. To do a steam pit in winter, you’ll probably have to go with pine boughs, as your choices will be limited.
STEP 5 Once the pit has nothing but hot rocks in it, apply a few inches of damp soil or sand to insulate the hot stones. Add 6-8 inches of green vegetation, then place your food in a single layer on top of the vegetation. Root vegetables are great when cooked like this, and so is seafood. Wrap tender foods that fall apart (like fish) with large edible leaves (like burdock).
STEP 6 Bury the food with your remaining vegetation. Cover it with a tarp and soil, or just plain soil. Come back after 3 or more hours, dig up your food, and enjoy your feast.
These tips, and many more survival skills, are available in MacWelch’s books:
And if that’s not enough, you can:
Follow Tim on Twitter @timmacwelch
Take one of his survival classes at www.advancedsurvivaltraining.com
and check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles at Outdoor Life Magazine’s survival site, The Survivalist