Time and Energy Efficient Cooking, by KBF (Dec 12 2007)
I wish to share some valuable information on my personal experiences with the use of two cooking devices which I incorporate into daily homemaking practice when I am attempting to conserve on water and on fuel usage. Both of them are extremely time and energy efficient.
The two kitchen products which have earned their weight in silver in my home are my pressure cookers, and my newest kitchen toys, which come from an old Asian origin and cooking concept, the thermo cooker pot.
I have and use several sizes of pressure cookers. I chose the pot size for use for the job I’m performing based on the fill capacity of the product I am cooking in it. The pot capacity should never be over 2/3rds full. The food is liquid pressure cooked on the basis of requiring very little water or liquid and a minimal amount is lost and released as pressurized steam, thus it cooks evenly, thoroughly, and quickly. Time savings average about one half compared to the usual on the stove top methods. Fuel savings are dependant on the time required for the recipe. I use this method for large vegetable batches, and large cuts of meat, like roast cuts or several chickens and get a finished product that is tender to cut with a fork. My very large pressure pots are mostly used for canning purposes to put up jars of volume batches of seasonal produce, meats, and jellies. Using the pressure cookers overall cuts my actual cooking and canning time by one third, compared to using the open pot boil methods. When you are putting up hundreds of jars, this time efficiency becomes necessity. I have had a few mishaps however over the years. They were character building learning experiences of what not to cook in a pressure cooker. Beans, rice, and whole grain cereals need to be constantly monitored, as the small needle outlet from which the pressurized steam escapes becomes easily clogged, and when it does you have now created a bean bomb! If you’re like me and are multitasking in or out of the household, constant sitting to a pot is not time efficient or possible. I have discovered my next favorite device as a result of this need to cook my one pot meal favorite dishes and also to simultaneously free myself to leave to do other equally important jobs. This device allows me to leave the house and come home hours later to a safe, hot cooked meal.
The thermo cooker pot is actually two pots, one (the cooking pot) is inserted into a second thermo insulated pot and is sealed with a hermetic seal lid. The pots can be found in Asian market stores, online, and from high end kitchen and industrial supply houses and are sold by numerous makers. Some makers sell their pots to other distributors who stick their retail labels on them. More expensive in this case is not necessarily a better pot. Key points of its success for your needs are to consider the following issues when searching to procure one. The pot set needs to be constructed of excellent quality stainless steel in order to maintain heat conductivity and easily clean and withstand staining. The floor of the pot must be constructed of no less than two air-insulated layers. The inner pot’s volume size needs to be one that will compromise and accommodate the majority of food dishes you normally prepare, if you desire to own just one size. Think in volumes of servings somewhere between how much soup, stew, arroz con pollo [rice and chicken], or how much hot grain cereal you make in one batch. Waste is non productive and expensive ultimately in time and money. Thermo cooker pots work on the principals of applying fast radiant energy cooking to your prepared dish by using the inner cooking pot on the stovetop. The recipe chosen must be able to be brought up to and kept to a boiling temperature for at least 5 minutes, the longer you can boil it the better. Secondly, this inner pot is covered and then immediately placed inside the slightly larger external thermo chamber pot, it is tightly sealed, and taken off the radiant source to finish the cooking process over the next hour on its own kinetic heat requiring no external fuel source. I leave mine in the warmest location in the house. The food contained inside the thermo chamber continues to cook by conductant heat for the next hour or so at a heat temperature gradient loss of kinetic energy which gradually decreases over 6 hours of time and maintains itself at a warming temperature up to 8 hours. The food will then remain warm to +/- 160 degrees up to 8 hours, this being dependant on normal external ambient room temperatures. I have tested my unit with a thermometer after 8 hours, and it made the grade in 65 degree ambient room temperature. This can be a boon to use in fuel and time conservation modes during TEOTWAWKI. It can also be used inversely chill perishable foods safely for consumption for 6 to 8 hours. Think summer mayonaise and egg based salads or cool fruit salads or transporting fresh farm pot cheeses without ice.
I have now mastered my pots usage to include making yogurt, soft goat cheeses and tofu successfully by not boiling the milk or soybean curd but by bringing it slowly up to incubation temp for the culture I am using, and then using the thermo pot to finish the process of maintaining the heat source. In the past I used an old wide mouth thermos bottle to do this method but it did not hold enough volume for my family’s consumption or barter needs. We also now wake up to fresh hot maple wheat berry cereal in the morning by preparing this before retiring for the night. I have used the thermo pot now on different stove and fuel sources, including wood burning and get pretty consistent result. I have used it even away from home to travel and on hunting trips using the butane camp stove. I have boiled the recipes required water, and dumped in our packaged dehydrated camp food, to either wake up to warm eggs and sausage or to come back from the hunt to eat a great hot meal.
I hope this info will help all the cookies create more efficiency in their survival preparations and also to help them find more enjoyment time to read JWR’s great postings and books!
Have a blessed and bountiful New Year!