Hay box cooking/Retained heat cooking

by Lesley Jacobs
(Centurion, South Africa)

For a number of years now, I have been using a retained heat cooking technique to cook casseroles, soup,and anything else requiring long cooking. Beans and porridge also works well. It's easy and saves fuel (electricity/ gas/ biomass).


The principle is simple- cook the dish for at least 10 minutes on full boil, make sure the lid to the pot fits securely and transfer to a box that is insulated with a blanket, old clothes, polyester batting, newspaper strips/bunched up balls, or pillows.

Leave for a few hours, and voila! The meat is tender, flies in the kitchen are reduced and food does not burn. No more standing in the kitchen for hours, watching the pot.

Over weekends I cook several meals in this manner- I have three units (all homemade with a cardboard box, lined with old blankets and a towel). I freeze the cooked meals, and warm it up when I come home from work. Taking into consideration that I often work 12- hour days, the convenience of having ready cooked food in the freezer is invaluable.

One could prepare breakfast porridge and put it in the haybox in the evening- next morning it is done.

There are plenty of internet sites giving instructions to make your own haybox/ retained heat cooker.

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