Product Review: Tembo Tusk Skottle
Previously published in the May/June 2022 issue of Cool Tears Magazine
Last summer, we acquired a skottle, made by Tembo Tusk, a California company. While we still have a lot to learn about cooking with the propane cooktop, we’ve made some incredible meals using it. You may be wondering, what is a skottle? It’s a concave, seasoned cooking vessel that is usually mounted on three legs for stability. Skottles originated in South Africa when farmers turned old harrow discs into cooking vessels that could be used while out in the fields.
What can you cook on a skottle? Anything that can be cooked in a pan, skillet, oven, smoker, or grill can be cooked on the Tembo Tusk skottle.
I want to note that this is not a paid review or endorsement of the Tembo Tusk skottle nor will we be paid if you choose to purchase your own. This is our honest review of the skottle. If you would like to purchase your own, go to www.tembotusk.com and use coupon code “CoolTears” to get 5% off your first purchase.
All 18” skottle grills come with the adjustable legs now which is a recent improvement. They are essential to make the cooking surface level on uneven ground. Another recent improvement is that the skottle grill comes with the Kovea Scout stove. This stove clamps to the bottom of the skottle and has excellent flame control. Each stove also comes with a propane gas adapter. The Kovea burner can run on either a butane gas bottle or a propane bottle with that adapter. The entire unit packs up neatly in the heavy duty bags that not only protect your gear, but they also make transporting the entire set up a breeze. The skottle, Kovea stove, and a few propane bottles fit easily into the large bag, while the legs have a separate bag. We also have the lid, wind guard, steam tray, and leg table. These are extras that you should consider if you purchase a skottle.
How it Works
The lightweight, titanium Kovea burner attaches to the bottom of the skottle with a bracket and two eye bolts, which are included. No tools are required because the eye bolts just need to be hand tightened. Insert the legs into the bottom of the skottle and hand tighten the eye bolts. At this point, flip it over and level the unit as needed with the adjustable legs. Attach a butane or propane bottle and it’s ready to cook. The included propane adapter allows for a one pound propane bottle to be used instead of butane. Alternatively, a Coleman hose adapter can be used to connect to larger propane tanks that are often carried on teardrop and squaredrop trailers. This hose adapter is not included with the skottle. The Kovea scout stove is easily turned on with a convenient push button piezo ignitor which is built into the valve. Turn the knob to adjust the flame.
Lightly coat the skottle with cooking oil and wipe off any excess oil. Light the burner and start cooking! Adjust the flame as needed.
Although the skottle is 18 inches across, the actual cooking area is the center eight or nine inches of the pan. The outer rim is used to keep food warm. When cooking several items, push the cooked food to the outer rim of the pan and move the uncooked food to the center. Keep repeating until all of the food is ready. Now you can plate the food and serve while everything is still hot.
The skottle should be cared for in the same manner as a cast iron skillet. To clean, pour a little oil into the skottle with a generous amount of coarse salt and vigorously rub with a cloth or paper towel. Note: A lint free cloth is best. If a deeper clean is needed, boil some water in the skottle to help loosen any food particles then scrape off the surface with a wood or silicone spatula. Lightly coat the top and bottom of the skottle with cooking oil after cleaning.
We have cooked with our Tembo Tusk skottle about fifteen to twenty times so far and by the time this issue is published, it will be packed for our first camping trip of the season to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a camping trip with friends and family. One of the evening meals will be the recipe included in this issue.
Our first meal using the skottle did not go as planned. Of course, I had stopped reading the instructions once it was put together and fired it up for cooking. I made the wrong assumption that it would be best to mimic how we cook in a wok: super high heat! By doing this, we actually burned off some of the seasoning in the center of the skottle. It is recommended to use medium to medium-low heat for skottle cooking. Don’t make the same mistake we did! Fortunately, this didn’t mean we ruined the skottle, it just meant that we had to take some extra steps to re-season our skottle.
This is an all-in-one camp cooker, meaning there are no extra pots or pans to clean if we’re making something other than a one pot meal, which we rarely do. Normally, we use at least two pans for each meal which means two pans to wash, dry, and put away two or three times per day. The skottle is so easy to clean and everything can be made at once on different sections of the skottle. I’d rather clean one thing instead of two every meal. This is important to us for a few reasons. First, we try to use as little water as possible for non consumption because we don’t typically camp where it is convenient to get more water. So if it’s possible to clean the skottle without any water at all, that’s a bonus! Even if we do need to use some water to help loosen stuck on food, we don’t need more than a cup of water to do the trick. That is still much less water than if we needed to wash dishes. It’s another bonus to not have my hands in water and then pull them out in really cold temperatures.
We recently cooked for a group of over forty people on a cold, spring day with 30 mph (48 km/hour) wind gusts and our Kovea Scout stove never blew out. That little burner is amazing! I probably didn’t need the wind guard even in those winds, but the lid was a necessity due to the cold temperatures and strong winds. The burner is versatile and can also be used without the skottle if you want to boil a pot of water or if you want to take it hiking or backpacking. Just be sure to have the portable propane tank on stable ground or better yet, use a propane cylinder base like this one, which will help keep your bottle upright. The stove also comes in a small plastic storage box which securely holds it in place. Because of this, I have had no problems with storing it in the bag with the skottle and the accessories. I don’t have to worry about it getting knocked around or damaged.
I love the versatility of the skottle. Want to cook pasta? Check. Want to cook rice? Check. Want to fry that fish you caught? Check. What about ramen? Check. Want to smoke some ribs? Check. Honestly, this skottle can cook just about anything. As I write this, I can’t think of anything that we normally eat that couldn’t be made on the skottle.
Above are some of the things that I love about the Tembo Tusk skottle. But there are a few downsides too. First, it’s extra gear that we take with us now. We’re not to the point of getting rid of our stove and cookware and SlI honestly don’t know if we ever would. So while the Tembo Tusk skottle packs away nicely in the included high quality carry bags it still takes up extra space in our tow vehicle or tongue box of our teardrop. Secondly, I’m nervous about leaving it set up at camp if we’re not around. This is not a cheap piece of gear and it would be relatively easy to walk away with. So if we’re leaving our campsite, we pack it up and put it away. It only takes a few minutes, but our campstove slides in and out of the galley, so that takes only about skottle. This is not a deal breaker for me, it’s just a consideration.
The skottle by Tembo Tusk is the most versatile and compact cooking setup that I’ve seen and it’s built to last a lifetime. I can’t think of any other piece of cooking gear that is as simple and easy to use as this. It could easily replace all of your cooking equipment that you might use at home or while cooking outside at home: cookstove, pots/pans, grill, skillets, and smoker. The skottle isn’t cheap, but it can be less expensive than buying a quality cookstove and cookware, plus it’s one piece of gear to find room for, instead of several.
I highly recommend the skottle for use at home or at camp. If you need some more inspiration before purchasing your own Tembo Tusk skottle, check out Marco from OverlandX. Marco is the guy in the Tembo Tusk ad. In this video, he makes chimichurri salmon with potatoes at camp. You can also check out this review from Drew with Playing with Sticks, a popular YouTube Channel devoted to tiny campers. Note that throughout Drew’s video, they use a lighter to light the stove. This is not necessary with the Kovea burner.
In an upcoming issue of Cool Tears, we will highlight the Tembo Tusk company. They also make other gear to help improve life in our tiny campers.
As a reminder, we're working on producing videos on our YouTube channel. This is new for us and we're busy learning how to shoot and edit video while not trying to sound or look like robots! We are working on a series called, "Will it Skottle"? where we are experimenting with making different foods to find out if we can stop carrying our cookstove and our pots and pans, which would free up a ton of galley space. Let us know what you like us to try for a future video. Here's a link to our latest video, put a comment below the video on a food you want us to try