For less than $20 you can create an easy outdoor DIY Earth Oven from local/sustainable materials or “found objects” from an old building site.
The photo on the left incorporates a few different materials: earth, old bricks, and some cement (cinder blocks & as a covering material). You need not get too elaborate! The point is to create a safe & stable environment for you oven, and you can be as creative (or not so!) as you like. Materials can range from local “found” articles such as those someone has cast off, or local earth (cob materials) mixed with sand and straw. An earth oven is very handy for outdoor cooking as well as making specialty treats like bread and pizza.
Earth ovens go back in history and are still used in many parts of the world. They can be found as far away as Greece or as nearby as the southwest region of the United States. They are very practical and need not be reserved simply for gourmet cooking. If you live in an area that gets very hot in the summer, you can use your Earth Oven rather than an indoor oven. It has been said that food always seems to taste better when cooked by a campfire, and it’s even more so in an Earth Oven.
How much time?
The time it takes to build an Earth Oven can vary quite a bit. It depends upon the size, materials, and whether you’re doing this project alone…or with friends. Many intentional communities have an Earth Oven on site for community meals and gatherings. The clean up is pretty simple (similar to cleaning out your fireplace or wood stove) as well. You will need to have a fair amount of wood to initially heat the oven to cooking temperature and feed the fire until your food has finished cooking. Again, keep in mind that a smaller oven will heat up much faster than a larger one will. You also want to avoid using any wood that’s treated, use natural, dried (seasoned) wood only.
Food that tastes divine cooked in an Earth Oven includes fish, meat (for meat eaters!), vegetables (peppers!), bread, pizza (anything with a hard crust). Stay away from vegetables that soften too much from cooking. You can “kebob” or place on a steel rack as you would cook on a bar-b-que. Bread & pizza seem to bake better if placed on fire bricks or a stone.
To get some ideas about where to begin, I highly recommend consulting the following books:
Note: Any books related to “wood fired cooking” can be used with Earth Oven cuisine.
Are you ready to make some mud pies?
While Paul’s Earth Oven is fairly detailed, this video gives a very good idea of what’s involved. He combines bricks, cinder blocks, and a cob mixture. Paul also seems happy to share info if you comment on his video: