To gauge the temperature of the oven floor :
- One pinch of flour thrown on the oven floor burns and smokes from 270°C and hotter
- It burns progressively and gets black at 220°C
- Sugar turns brown, then black from 170 °C on.
- One drop of water sprinkled onto the brick evaporates under 100°C.
- When a drop of water scatters into fine droplets in contact with the sole, the temperature is above 200°C.
- After grilling, just put the coals on top of the grill spot. All greases and meat juices will burn off.
- To eliminate all traces of ashes after sweeping, use a coconut brush with a long handle, dipped into cold water beforehand to avoid it’s catching fire.
Lighting the fire
- It is important to light the fire with pieces of dry wood and at the entrance of the oven, under the flue.
- In order to always have dry wood to start the fire : put it into the oven while it is still warm (not hot). Of course, the oven has to be cleaned of all ashes beforehand.
- Getting the best benefit from the oven without loosing any time : always plan to cook with an open oven first, then with a closed oven.
For example : Bake pizzas for lunch, a gratin for dinner and , the next morning, without reheating the oven, cook a « cream renversee »
Drying fruits, vegetables, mushrooms
- The oven is closed and the temperature is not higher than 60°C for fruits and vegetables, 40°C for mushrooms
- With experience, one finds the right drying temperature
- Drying tomatoes, fruits with pits and certain mushrooms requires several sessions. Dry these foods in two sessions at a three day interval, reheating the oven each time.
- Drying herbs: put the herbs on the swept oven floor (in a cooling oven, not more than 30°C and close the exterior door). The oven is extremely dry, the brick will absorb the moisture from the herbs in 24 hours.
- Peel an apple and cut it into 2 mm slices.
- Put them side by side on a grill in the oven at 50-60°C. In one night the apple slices will be dry and crispy.
Home canning of any type of food can be sterilized in the oven. In the past, this was the only way to preserve jars of peas or green beans.
Years ago, bedding made of natural material was placed in a clean oven and heated to a temperature of about 70 °C. It was left until the oven had completely cooled. All parasites were naturally destroyed.
- If the oven is installed outside, it can also be a remarkable smoking chamber, with salmon or trout, for example.
- Put an 8 mm layer of dry beech sawdust in a semi-circle around the edges of the oven floor.
- After salting, the food to be smoked is placed on an elevated grill in the center of the oven.
- Light the sawdust on one end. For about 12 hours, the sawdust will burn very slowly, giving off a great deal of smoke but no heat. This method gives excellent results. It is important to check the oven regularly, as the fire often goes out.