11 Ways to Save Cooking Energy
by Pat Meadows
Eleven ways to conserve fuel used for cooking, in no
- Use of pressure cookers. Pressure-cooking saves about
70% of the energy required to cook those foods which are
suited to this method - this includes beans, grains, soups,
stews and various other foods. Of course, it saves time as
well as fuel.
The so-called 'second-generation' pressure cookers are very,
very safe and easy to use. See: http://www.missvickie.com
for lots of
good information on pressure cookers. There is a learning
curve, and you do need to pay a modicum of careful attention
while cooking (which should be done with all cooking,
My favorite pressure cooker cookbook is this one, and I
recommend it for non-vegetarians (like us) as well as for
Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
by Lorna J. Sass
Publisher: Morrow Cookbooks (October 20, 1994)
Lots of helpful information on using pressure cookers, lots
of really excellent recipes, and directions for cooking
dozens of grains and beans. Lorna knows pressure cooking,
and she knows food too! She has also written a couple of
non-vegetarian pressure cooker cookbooks, but I find Great
Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure to be the most useful of
I started by following recipes specifically written for
pressure cooking, but now I'm at the point where I can adapt
many 'regular' recipes. This is when the pressure cooker
really becomes extremely useful.
- Thermos cooking - see: http://www.kurtsaxon.com/ and
click on 'Survival Foods' in the left frame, then on SAVING
MONEY WITH A THERMOS BOTTLE and on THE PERFECT 3.3 CENT
- Volume cooking: if you are broiling chicken or baking
potatoes, make enough for two nights, warming the potato up
the second night and eating the chicken cold (refrigerate
both in the interim). When you make chili or soup or stew
or casseroles, make enough to freeze several meals' worth.
Or, of course, you can can soups or stews if you have a
pressure canner and know how to use it. (Note that a
pressure *cooker* is not a pressure canner. It is not safe
to use a cooker for canning.)
- Haybox cooking - see: http://www.lostvalley.org/haybox1.
You might want to consider making 'bean flour' or
'instant beans'. This is easy and the results are quite
good. You can buy these in natural-food stores - Fantastic
Foods makes a decent 'Instant Refried Beans' and 'Instant
Black Beans', for example. You can do the same thing
yourself, flavor it according to your own preferences, and
save a whole lot of money.
I think a Corona or similar hand-mill (with steel and not
stone burrs) is the best tool for this. We use an
(electric) Whisper Mill to grind flour, but you can't grind
beans in it.
We also have a Corona, and they are useful not only for
grinding beans, but also for cracking grains for hot cereal.
(The Corona is not good for fine flour, however.) You can
buy Coronas at brewing supply stores - here's one example:
http://www.homebrewheaven.com/ - then type 'mill' in the
If you buy a Corona, I recommend that you get the high
hopper, if you have a choice. The sketch on that webpage
shows it with the high hopper, but I'd inquire to be sure it
comes along with the mill.
Lehmans has a similar mill, but it costs more
Solar cookers - see: http://www.solarcooking.org.
- A microwave can save fuel - compared to a regular stove
- for those (fairly few, I think) foods which are suited to
it. I steam veggies in the microwave, and cook pudding in
it (no scorching), also white sauce, and I heat milk to make
our yogurt in it. I also sometimes make meatloaf in the
- Cooking on a wood stove, if you have one and if it is
going to be heating your home in any case.
- Using a toaster oven to bake rather than the big oven.
- Using a Rocket Stove or similar fuel-conserving stove
(outdoors only). See: http://www.aprovecho.net/at/atindex.htm
- Trading 'cooking nights' with one or more friends.
This can either be done on a 'cook and deliver' basis, or by
having dinner together at someone's home.
Maybe it would be good to start off with a single friend,
and each cook one night a week. For example, I cook for
both families on Mondays, my friend cooks for both families
on Thursdays. This would need fairly congenial people who
eat in more or less the same manner (natural food or
highly-processed foods, vegetarian or including meat, etc.).
- Pat Meadows, northern Pennsylvania