Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cooler Kitchen Energy Savings Safer Cooking Aprovecho's Fireless Cooking a houshold hint

Our corporate media has deep-sixed any serious consideration of energy conservation, too practical, too easily done right now and no profit for the oil companies who sponsor them. But that doesn't mean that we can't get some benefit from the practical knowledge that is already available.

Although some of the energy efficiency ideas found at the Aprovecho Research Center won't fit a suburban or urban dwellers life, one thing they've studied can be used beneficially by just about everyone. "Fireless cooking" is a way to save up to 70% of energy used in cooking while requiring less attention by the cook as well as other benefits. Its research has shown that no matter what kind of stove is being used the greatest energy savings are achieved through using this kind of cooking.

Having tried it for over a year, it is simple and makes life a lot easier. In this heatwave it also cuts down standing over a hot stove and having hot pots heat up the kitchen.

What the technique involves is cooking food over heat for a short time, covering it and putting the pot in an insulated container or blanket sufficient to keep the heat in to cook the food. I use it for rice all the time now.

To cook rice this way:
About an hour before you would normally begin cooking rice you put it in a pot with about 1/3rd less water than you would usually use (liking rice a bit softer I usually use the full amount). You boil the rice for four minutes, turn off the stove and let it boil another minute or two. Then cover it, put the covered pot inside some kind of insulation and let it continue to cook for an hour to an hour and a half. If you have done it right the rice will be cooked, won't have stuck to the pot and won't have burned. Larger amounts of food cooked this way work better than smaller amounts but if well insulated you can cook even a cup of rice this way.

The insulation that is easiest to use is a clean, double layer of synthetic blanket, completely enclosing the pot. I usually put a piece of cardboard under the pot as added insulation. A dry woolen or cotton blanket or towel of sufficient thickness will work too as long as it's dry.

Aprovechos Research has a tri-fold brochure giving full instructions for cooking many foods and for using different types of insulation. You can check out their other interesting and practical energy savings booklets too.

Their website is: http://www.aprovecho.net/

Save energy, make Dick Cheney fume.

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