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Haybox Cooking / Thermal Cooker / Wonder Box  RSS feed

 
William James
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Not to complicate such a simple thing, but if you took Andrew's box and put some fixed, natural-fiber insulation could you get around the re-positioning of the wool blankets? Going for major laziness here. Could even match the box/insulation to the pot used to get optimal insulation/air space.
Just a thought.

edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_insulation_materials#Natural_fiber
Cork or re-sourced denim might be a natural match. Good use for used wine corks.
William
 
Graham Bunting
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The haybox has been a tried and tested method with Boy Scouts for a long long time. We would use it by cooking the evening meal while we ate breakfast. When the recipe reach the boil, we would pop the dixie into the haybox and leave for the day's activities. When we got back to camp in the evening, the stew, casserole or whatever would be waiting for us. Ours was made from a small packing crate and if we didn't have hay to insulate with, we would use newspaper or even cardboard. It ain't rocket science. Boil the stew. Stick in the box. Leave. Eat.
 
Len Ovens
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My biggest problem with retained heat cookers has been people who "know better". I have used my cooler with sleeping bag inside to take food to "pot luck" functions. Soon as I turn my head, the food is on the counter to sit until it has to be reheated/cooked.

I have two coolers, blue for cooling and red for keeping warm. I use the red one mostly for keeping kefer or of fermentations at a know temperature. I often add an old coffee can of hot water if the item to be kept warm is small. We don't do much slow cooking right now.... but could do more. My wife is less permie than I am except when camping she is willing to try other things. (she likes the sawdust toilet we take with us that is mostly smell free)
 
Andrew Schreiber
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William James wrote:Not to complicate such a simple thing, but if you took Andrew's box and put some fixed, natural-fiber insulation could you get around the re-positioning of the wool blankets? Going for major laziness here. Could even match the box/insulation to the pot used to get optimal insulation/air space.
Just a thought.

edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_insulation_materials#Natural_fiber
Cork or re-sourced denim might be a natural match. Good use for used wine corks.
William


Howdy. It's been my experience that the wool blankets are the easiest most effective thing to use when you have Box type cooker. What I use is different that the sewn pillow type things others are using. I cannot imagine that another type of insulation is going to be better than the wool I am using. It quite literally takes almost no time to reposition the blanket. I also encourage boxes to be made for small, medium and large pots if you are going to be using it regularly. I only have on box, but that is mainly a space concern. I could not have a large box in he kitchen at this time.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Now we have the Wonderbag, per this Huffpost article.



Wonderbag on Amazon

Purchasing on Amazon via the link above both gives a kickback to the permies empire, and includes a donation (ala Tom's shoes) for providing bags to families in Africa.
 
Len Ovens
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Well, here is mine. Plastic... ick! I know, but... is it better to throw this in land fill so I can cut a tree down and make a wood one? These are a great starting point if you already have one anyway The sleeping bag on the other hand is more than 40 years old.

This a pot of wild rice we cooked today...

(can't seem to post... trying without picture)
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Cj Sloane
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Not just you Len. The previous post had a pic which has disappeared and so did one of mine in a different thread. Glitches to the new software?
 
Len Ovens
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Cj Verde wrote:Not just you Len. The previous post had a pic which has disappeared and so did one of mine in a different thread. Glitches to the new software?


Well I got one pic in, here's the finished food (wild rice). As a side note, I did this "under the radar". We were going out and my wife put it on the stove to simmer while we were gone... I kicked it to a rolling boil and dropped it in the box before we left. On the way home my wife was saying "I hope we didn't burn the rice". I was able to say no problem I put it in the hay box. She says "haybox?" Anyway she liked the result.
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Cj Sloane
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The glitch seems to be related to linking a pic. Yours was uploaded, right?

I had considered using a cooler but was worried about hot cast iron melting the plastic. On seeing your pic though, I guess the cast iron isn't going to touch the plastic directly but the insulation instead.
 
Len Ovens
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Cj Verde wrote:The glitch seems to be related to linking a pic. Yours was uploaded, right?

I had considered using a cooler but was worried about hot cast iron melting the plastic. On seeing your pic though, I guess the cast iron isn't going to touch the plastic directly but the insulation instead.


I have never had problems with linking a picture. I can't find a way of linking to a video (webm... the standard) that is not you tube, and I will not get myself a you tube account, enough people follow me around the inet already. I originally had both pics edited together as one in the same way as the 4 in the first pic are, then a split it in two and tried to do two in one message. Finally, I did one per message which worked. I purposely lowered the resolution for small file size and used png packaging as I have found that works best for me on Permies. If I had a better idea of what the website expected ( a few words on the attachments tab) I would be willing make my pictures fit better.

Anyway, The metal the pot is made out of does not matter really. This style of cooking expects better than 50% of the food will be water, it is for stewing not frying or baking. So your cast iron is not the best choice with all that water over a long time... at least not on a daily basis, you would want to charge up the grease coating by cooking something oily after I think (just my thought that it would rust cooking something like rice). In any case cast iron or not, something with that much water in it will have a maximum temperature of 100C/212F anyway. There are some plastics that will melt below that (5 gallon water containers for drinking fountains, honey containers, etc.) and this may too. But really these coolers are cheap and have only air space between the skins (at least the lid is hollow) and so the extra insulation inside is worth while. (filling the lid with foam would help too )

Having said that, After it was cooked the outside of the cooler haybox was at room temperature, but the blanket before unwrapping was warm (not hot though) so it was doing something. If you were not using the extra blanket, a cork divot under the cast iron pot would work. A cooler with a high number of cooling days rating would be better too and may come with a metal shell.... but cost more. I think the best thing is to use whatever you already have... making a wood box has the benefit of giving the possibility of furniture that fits the house's decor.

The bad thing about most home made hayboxen is that they can't be used as coolers due to wetness.
 
Cj Sloane
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I'm working my way through the Fireless Cookbook from 1913 linked on the 1st page of this thread. I'm on page 40 and can't image what will fill the next 240 pages!

Anyway, it's true she (the author of the Fireless Cookbook) does not recommend cast iron unless it's enameled. Earthenware is the other choice. I've just always used cast iron dutch ovens for stews and rice because it maintains an even temp. and the heavy lid stays on the rice pot.

BTW, you don't need a youtube account to link to videos. I've successfully done it before but today even the permies video at the top of the screen isn't working, I suspect due to the upgrade in the forum software.
 
Cj Sloane
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I have read the whole Fireless Cookbook from 1913. Mostly its recipes adjusted to haybox cooking.

I'm keen to make one however.... we will be lucky to get above 10°F and therefore I don't mind having the oven going all day, even with the woodstove going too. In fact, I chose a recipe that calls for the oven to be set to 250 for like 6+ hours.

To anyone who has wondered what to do with a lamb shoulder this is it!

I will try it in a haybox cooker in spring/summer minus the pomegranate which is in season right now.
 
Cj Sloane
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Also, this would be a great homeschooling project! After constructing the cooker, the Appendix has a ton of experiments/tests which would be great for kids to try.
 
Linda Code
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I had forgotten about hay boxes...now I want to make one for home and one for our rustic cabin. Thanks for the reminder!
 
Linda Code
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A really easy and fast alternative to the hay box is a thermos. You can cook any dry bean or rice in a high quality thermos just by pre-heating it and bringing the food to a boil. Trial and error for the cooking time.
 
Sam Barber
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I am currently in the process of crafting a hay box cooker. It is extra big and extra heavy duty. I made a 2'x2'x2' wood box out of 1 inch pine. my next task is to dry out the hay insulation and then I am gonna line the box with several layers of aluminium foil. I will post pics in a little while.
 
Robert James
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I really like this, I can't wait to make one, I always have a pot of beans or a veggie soup cooking.

 
Sam Barber
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Here is the finished wheaton labs hay box cooker. It is on legs so that it is close to the back porch height for convenience.
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Sam Barber
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Here are some more pictures. One of the top of the box and one of the wool and the foil lining.
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Sam Barber
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The top layer of wool is all relatively one piece so to use the cooker you just remove the top layer and set the pot in the depression that is underneath. One future thing that I am going to add on when time allows is a small roof it will probably be board and baton made from the 1inch pine that we have been milling on the saw mill.
-Sam
 
Michael Cox
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Sam - looks nice. I like the idea of having it at a nice height too.
 
Sam Barber
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So the hay box cooker was tested today and it worked really well! We put some rice in it earlier and a few hours later wallah! rice! So I would say this project has been a success. All it needs now is some more food to cook in it!

 
Sam Barber
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Michael Cox wrote:Sam - looks nice. I like the idea of having it at a nice height too.

Yeah I thought it would work out well the amount of inside space and the amount of porch space that is available is not conducive to placing it in either one of those places so I put it next to the porch it has the added benefit of being in sunlight for most of the afternoon.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Rebecca did the acid test with some garbanzos that take hours, on a stove top, to get cooked through. It worked! It did take two rounds, but the beans were still warm after 14 hours on the first round. They were brought to a boil again and put back in overnight, about 8 hours, and they were done, and still warm, despite nighttime temps around 40- 50 F.
 
Dawn Hoff
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I just made a small blog-post about my hay-box: http://soloenespana.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/haybox-cooking/
 
Dawn Hoff
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Sam Barber wrote:Here is the finished Wheaton Labs hay box cooker. It is on legs so that it is close to the back porch height for convenience.

why do you keep it outside?
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I am into kitchen plan, and will integrate one!

...Can be integrated into the wall, a sort of little cupboard... do you think so?
(Well it will be half outdoor and I have cats and rats around...)

No one spoke about the door being on the side.
Still has to be tight, but IMO more heat goes away from the top.

About pots... It should go with ALL your pots, or else needs to be transfered after cooking?

Then I like cushions, to adapt to any pot size.
I like the idea of wool, just need to enquire how to wash it!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Dawn Hoff wrote:
Sam Barber wrote:Here is the finished Wheaton Labs hay box cooker. It is on legs so that it is close to the back porch height for convenience.

why do you keep it outside?


Our kitchen is tiny, sometimes without enough room for people to sit down to dine. We feed an average of 13-15 adults at each meal - 9-10 at the big table and the overflow at a second table pushed up against the island. All of which means there is not any floor or cupboard or shelf space for the haybox in our kitchen.

 
Ryan Skinner
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Like the Idea of the Haybox cooker and building it as a seat at the table with a cushion on top. Stacking functions. Maybe it is on wheels so It could triple as a much needed step stool in our house.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Do you think it's the "weird things" factor or the eyeballs in your soup?
kazron McCoy wrote:I cook rice in a box of hay. I think a normal rice recipe goes something like:

Bring water to boil, add rice, bring back to boil, simmer for 45 minutes.

A hay box recipe goes like this:

Bring water to boil, add rice, bring back to boil and continue boiling for 10-20minutes. Place in haybox for 45minutes to one hour.


The haybox I use is a cardboard box, three flakes of hay with some scooped out in the shape of a pot, a flake of hay for on top, a piece of cardboard on top of that, a seat cushion on top of that, and two bottles of vinegar to weight it all down.

Works like a charm. Only drawbacks are a) I can't see inside in case there was not enough water... so I usually put enough or more water than necessary (I don't use measuring cups, just eyeballs) and b) need to cover the lid of the pot with a small kitchen towel so that hay doesn't get inside the rim and possibly touch any rice.

Of course, with those fancy "hay boxes" listed above neither issue will occur. Also, I'm throwing mine out when I move tomorrow as my father dislikes its presence in the kitchen, so those fancy boxes linked above will have the added advantage of appealing to people who do not like "weird" things!
 
Rebecca Norman
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I'm sorry, I've said this before and I'll say it again, a pressure cooked conserves a huge amount of fuel and time because it gets water-based foods up to hotter than the normal sea-level 212F or 100C. Combined with hay box type tactics, you can cook your normally 2-hour garbonzos with about twenty minutes of active stove top time.

Indian pressure cookers are really simple and fool proof with a weight over the hole which is a nice low tech safety valve, and they have a separate safety valve of soft metal hidden under the handle. Everyone, I mean every single kitchen in this region, uses one one because at this altitude beans never soften in a regular pot. They're ubiquitous all over the rest of India too since dal (beans, peas or lentils) is cooked fresh for almost every meal. But most people don't use a haybox type of tactic here, they keep the stove on low the whole time. And I've never heard of one exploding. Important not to fill more than one third with beans/lentils, that's IT.
 
allen lumley
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-Heres a link to A working model solar cooker , /// see Below :


http://permies.com/t/51994/solar/SolSource-mirror-cooker-review-pluses#420418

with a haybox cooker you can Start cook and bring a 3 or more course meal to the dinner table with no more cooking skills than the average Backyard BBQer !

For the good of the craft Big AL
 
Mick Fisch
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We've done this before and it works really well for any slow cooker kind of job. If you have something you want to cook for most of a day, sometimes we'll reheat it partway through, just to make sure it stays hot enough. We always used an old quilt or two wrapped around the pot and stuck in a box, (multipurposing our stuff). Make sure you insulate the bottom and top also. It can produce a good pot of beans by the time we get home from church with no worries of boiling the pot dry. The only problem we ever had was the worry about getting food on the quilts because they were usually off of someones bed and they needed to be back on the beds by that evening.

We've done something similar in the past when we made a gallon or two of yogurt. We have moved mostly to using a big cooler for the yogurt now. After we heat the milk to 185 degrees F we cool it in a water bath to 105 degrees, stir in our starter and set the covered pot in the middle of the cooler full of water adjusted to 105 degrees F. Then we adjust the water level until the pot almost floats. We close it and generally leave that overnight and it's good yogurt in the morning. I prefer it drained some till it's greek yogurt or even till it's thick enough to be neufchattel. My wife claims (properly, I'm certain) it's more nutritious undrained, but it doesn't matter how nutritious it is if it doesn't get inside you and I prefer the flavor of the drained stuff.
 
Joy Oasis
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I love cooler and blankets /sleeping bag idea since I already have these things for camping anyway. I cook eggs by simply boiling them for 1 minute and then closing the pot and shutting the heat off. Take them out after 10 minutes and put in the cold water for hard boiled eggs. For soft ones, just putting on boil and then closing for a few minutes probably would work. Eggs cooked this way do not develop grey around the yolk too, which is from higher heat for longer time.
My stepmother used to cook rice in similar way as haybox, but she would simply wrap the pot in a few blankets and out it on the shelf in the closet.
I personally do not like pressure cookers as they raise food temperature to much higher levels and destroy more nutrients (at least some) and quite possibly create more toxic compounds than regular cooking does.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I learned the term hay box cooking just a couple of years ago, but I have been using a tea cozy and thick towels completely wrapping pot for about 30 years. The practice has been looked at with disdain by several family members.

We had a really large East Indian tea cozy that was quite thick.
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Jocelyn Campbell
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I had bone broth in our haybox cooker for 9.5 hours. SO much better than simmering in the house on a hot summer day!

Took it out this morning and the pot was still hot to the touch.

Candy thermometer showed the broth was still at 150 degrees F!

(By the time I could wrangle my phone camera the mercury had gone down a bit in this still kinda crappy pic.)

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Bone broth at 150F after 9.5 hours in the haybox
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Here's a few comments about what works and doesn't work for me.

My favorite stock pot is an old pressure cooker where the pop-up thingy broke and fell out and it lost its little pressure release bobber, too. It's a heavy, good stainless pot and the rubber lid seal is still excellent.

When this pot was put in the unwashed wool in the haybox (I know, we should wash that wool or give it a higher purpose - it's quite beautiful!), without covering the two holes in the top, and with the wool on top, well...the oats or beans tasted like unwashed wool. D'oh. And blech.

This put me off of using this handy thing for over a year.

In the picture, I have an old CLEAN blanket that I used on top. The blanket has big holes in it, though when folded this size, they don't matter. And, I taped over the holes in the pot lid.

Voila! Excellent heat retention and no tainting of flavor!

I took this picture also to show that I like that Sam built this at deck rail height. It's so much easier to move a heavy stock pot at rail/counter height than to bend over with it to a low box.
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Old, broken pressure cooker in haybox cooker
 
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