Baked potatoes are traditionally baked in a conventional oven, but you can use a coffee can to make a simple oven that might come in handy on a camping trip. Many coffee brands are now packaged in plastic containers, but, of course, only the classic metal coffee cans will work for this. The number of potatoes you can bake at once depends on the coffee can size and potato sizes. Keep the can clear of all flammable materials and burn it on a flat surface, such as a grill rack.
Punch several vent holes around the sides of the coffee can at the top and bottom. You can use a drill, punch tool with hammer, and in some cases, a can punch-style can opener.
Measure one-third of the way up from the bottom of the can and make four to six evenly spaced marks around the can, using four marks for a small can and six marks for a large coffee can.
Drill a 1/4-inch diameter hole through each mark on the can. Alternatively, hold the can in a vice and punch the holes with a punch tool and hammer.
Cut two or three pieces of heavy-gauge wire, such as a wire coat hanger, to lengths about 4 inches longer than the can's diameter. Push one end of the wire into one hole and push it out through the corresponding hole on the opposite side of the can, leaving 2 inches protruding out each side of the can. Grasp the ends of the wire with pliers and bend them over to prevent the wire from sliding out of place. Repeat this process with the remaining one or two wires.
Fill the can with hot coals to just below the sets of wires. Shake the can gently so the coals fall through the wire supports. You can take hot charcoal from a grill or hot coals from a campfire.
Poke holes all over the potato with a fork or knife. Wrap the potatoes tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Set the wrapped potatoes inside the coffee can, resting them on the rack. Bake the potatoes for about 1 hour or until the coals go out. Remove the potatoes carefully with a pair of tongs.
- While the coffee can oven works well on its own, if you have large potatoes, you might fill the can with coals, add the potato, and set the whole can in a bed of coals on the grill or in the campfire. This allows extra cooking time in case the coals inside the can extinguish before the potato cooks through.
- Wear heat-proof gloves or an oven mitt when handling the can, if necessary. It's safest to simply allow the coals to extinguish and cool the can before moving it.
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