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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Retained Heat Cooking

A couple of days ago, Krista left a comment on a post on my other (food) blog about cooking food off the stove in an insulated pillow. Curious, I did a quick search on "retained heat cooking" and found this informative page complete with wonderful pictures. I tried this, in a half-assed sort of way, a year ago or so without much success.

Months later, I picked up a Le Creuset pot at a yard sale with the intention of using our old potato growing set-up as a hay box for retained heat cooking. (Photos here.) I never got around to that.

Well, after seeing the photos on the page linked above, I wanted to try again. The only appropriate basket I had was pretty small: 12" diameter at the top and 12" high. I have one tall narrow pot that I thought might work. Here's what I did.

Step 1: Lined the inside of the basket with foil. (Foil kept from burritos purchased at Chipotle's Mexican Grill...)

Step 2: Created insulation. I used 3 heavy towels, putting them in at crossed angles to get the best coverage. For more insulation, I decided to wrap the whole thing in a blanket.

Step 3: Prepared something to "cook." I boiled some brown rice and water in a covered pot for 5 minutes and then tucked it into my basket.

Step 4: Wrapped it up nice and tight.

Step 5: Reflected the heat even more. For optimum heat retention, I wrapped foil-lined bubblewrap insulation around the blanket-covered basket and tucked a blanket in the top opening.

Step 6: Waited. I checked on the rice several hours later and it was cooked. The bottom of the rice pan was still quite hot to the touch.

The only downside is that the rice came out somewhat mushy. I'm thinking it might work in soup, rice burgers, or perhaps to make rice milk. (Any other suggestions welcome!) Update: Aha! I just went back and reread the information page. Somehow, yesterday I missed the part about reducing the amount of water for cooking grains by one quarter. That would helped with the mushy rice problem.

This is definitely a viable way of cooking food with very low energy inputs. I'd like to try beans in it. I also think anything that would work in a slow cooker would work in this set-up.


1 comment:

  1. I have a haybox someone made me out of heavy material and those polystyrene beads. I haven't been brave enough to use it to cook a meal. I will eventually. However, I have used it to incubate my yogurt. Works like a charm.