A chiminea is a freestanding fireplace with a vertical chimney, often in a shape of a bulb. The size of a chiminea is about five feet tall and two feet across. The chiminea originated from Mexico, where it was made from river clay and used as cooking pot. They are currently a popular garden accessory in the US and throughout Europe, since the use of a chiminea adds a touch of class and authenticity to one’s garden.
When choosing a chiminea, it is important to make sure that it is made with high quality materials for maximum strength and resilience. Some chimineas are made of inferior metals and some of terracotta clay, and while cheaper, these chimineas tend to fall apart very quickly. Cast iron chimineas are a popular choice among enthusiasts, since it is more durable and can better withstand the elements. There are many designs that are available often with traditional motifs. They can be bought through online stores or at local garden centres where you can find many interesting designs like the Phoenix Chiminea, with traditional Aztec motifs, and the high end Round Pizza Oven, which is specially designed for cooking and baking.
Other than as lawn accessory, the chiminea can also be used for cooking. To cook on the chiminea, simply ignite a fire inside the chiminea with bits of paper. The fire will burn fully within a short time, usually about 15 minutes, and gives a high heat, suitable for cooking. Due to the high temperature, the chiminea is commonly used as a grill, either wood-fired or charcoal-fired. You can place a steel sheet inside to bake pizzas and bread. The cast iron chiminea can also be used as a tandoor (traditional Indian oven), to make tandoori breads or meats. To cook slower, wrap the food in foil and place it on a grill or steel sheet. There are countless dishes that you can make with your chiminea: ribs, pies, kebabs, poussins, steaks, baked potatoes, and many more.
You should definitely invest on a good quality cast iron chiminea, but even the best chimineas fall apart quickly if not taken care of properly. You should wax the surface of chiminea regularly to make it weatherproof. Simply rub a floor wax using a clean cloth to cover the invisible cracks and pores. You should also get a storm cover to protect your chiminea from sun, rain and snow. Be sure to store the chiminea inside a building during wintertime as the combination of extreme temperature and moisture can produce cracks on the surface.