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Haybox Cooking

Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
This contraption, a thermal cooker, is super efficient. I read about it in the latest permaculture magazine (No. 67) and you basically cook using the inner pan (which is pretty big), for 10 minutes after boiling, and then stick it in the insulative container for another 1-6 hours. It can save up to 80% of the fuel normally used. Here's a useful link: http://youraccount.ekmpowershop7.com/ekmps/shops/theboatjumble/mr-ds-eco-friendly-thermal-cooker-1758-p.asp You can cook sort of crock-pot things, as well as breads, desserts, and casseroles.


www.thehappypermaculturalist.wordpress.com
Lee Einer


Joined: May 08, 2011
Posts: 169
The blogsite http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/ has a load of info on this plus instructions on how to build your own thermal cooker using simple materials like shredded newspaper.
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Thanks for the link! I thought I would post a picture here of the "wonder box," taken from the "Thermal Heaters" page:
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
And here is a video from the "Mr. D's" website, making a lamb biriyani
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
And one more thing...there is a related thread: Non-Electric Slow Cooking http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=2360.0
                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 2
I have a haybox cooker like the material-box photo posted.  Unfortunately, I haven't spent much time with it yet.  I do make yogurt from powdered milk, and use it then to incubate the yogurt.  Works great. 

Have seen instructions online for sewing your own. 
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Just found out that there are apparently special cake and bread tins for the Mrs. D's brand.
                        


Joined: Mar 25, 2011
Posts: 107
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!
Vera Lothian


Joined: Dec 05, 2011
Posts: 21
Location: Wiltshire UK
I was just reading in the current PCmag about this there is a follow up on the previous mag.
I found this article some time ago http://www.selfsufficientish.com/hayboxcooker.htm
I shall go and watch the videos now thanks!


zone 8, 382.5 square meter garden 2 up 2 down 1920's ex-council house. heavy clay soil
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4234
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  62
I'm a one pot cook. And I constantly get distracted by tv,phone or computer. So l like to get the pot up to temperate, then turn off the heat and cover the lid and sides of the pot with towels. I crank the heat between calls or during commercials. 25 years of this and haven't burned anything down.


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John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6652
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
137
Hayboxes were quite popular 100 years ago, both in Europe and the U.S.
There were numerous publications describing their construction, and use.

Here is a classic example, written by Margaret J. Mitchell in 1913

Download/View here: The Fireless Cookbook





[Fireless Cookbook 1913.JPG]

John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6652
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
137
I spot read through "The Fireless Cookbook", (300+ pages) and found many good recipes.
Some were things that I would never eat myself, but many were things that were common 100 years ago, but seldom seen today. A treasure trove of homestead style rustic cooking.

A time I see where this technique would be a godsend is Harvest/Canning season.
When you have 100 pints of tomatoes that need to be processed and canned, these methods would save huge amounts of cooking fuels, as well as allowing you to go about your daily chores, without being shackled to the kitchen all day. Many crops are ready for harvest while it is still hot enough outside that you don't want the stove heating up the house all day.

Bushels of ripe fruits can easily be turned into 'ready to be canned' products with little time or intervention on your part.
Quarts of pie fillings, apple sauces, jams, etc could be 'cooking' while you are outside splitting fire wood (or butchering the hog). True permies style stacking of functions.

Besides saving a lot of cooking fuels, this method gives you back a lot of the time required for standard processing/cooking.


Poul Po


Joined: Oct 21, 2013
Posts: 2
wonder boxes! I want them!
K Nelfson


Joined: Nov 07, 2012
Posts: 124
John Polk wrote:I spot read through "The Fireless Cookbook", (300+ pages) and found many good recipes.
Some were things that I would never eat myself, but many were things that were common 100 years ago, but seldom seen today. A treasure trove of homestead style rustic cooking.

A time I see where this technique would be a godsend is Harvest/Canning season.
When you have 100 pints of tomatoes that need to be processed and canned, these methods would save huge amounts of cooking fuels, as well as allowing you to go about your daily chores, without being shackled to the kitchen all day. Many crops are ready for harvest while it is still hot enough outside that you don't want the stove heating up the house all day.

Bushels of ripe fruits can easily be turned into 'ready to be canned' products with little time or intervention on your part.
Quarts of pie fillings, apple sauces, jams, etc could be 'cooking' while you are outside splitting fire wood (or butchering the hog). True permies style stacking of functions.

Besides saving a lot of cooking fuels, this method gives you back a lot of the time required for standard processing/cooking.


Cooking fuel is minimal. At least, compared to running a freezer. And running a freezer is minimal compared to heating/cooling your house.

Here's a link to some research I did on the topic. I figured that canning would be more efficient over the long term but that a freezer would take less energy if the food was stored for, say, a few months. Turns out that it's not so.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WeOt4vE_dQKWg1Gz8kDCWiFNpgkR6WPeFtOo_dEvLKk/edit?usp=sharing
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
Has anyone here made a wonder box . I am reading the instructions and getting a little confused .
For each shape you make 4 copies ....ok
Then you sew two copies together and leave a gap to put the filling in .....
ok
Then you sew another two parts together and dont fill that bit ........ am confused as to why you dont fill this bit and how it all fits together ?

David


Living in Anjou , France
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
Well I have nearly finished making my Wonderbox
Cost so far my time plus a couple of yards of Cotton . The material came from some two pairs of trousers ( patched) a pair of bermudas And an old tea towel. Now I need to stuff it. I' m not keen on Polystyrène . Anyone any other suggestions preferably stuff I can er find or make that Will cope with the Heat.
I am keeping the spare material to make a proddy mat
but thats a story for another thread.

David

Mike Heywood


Joined: Aug 24, 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Kelso, Washington, USA
    
    1
My wife discovered these all on her own and has now made herself one plus three more for gifts. We have used it on several different meals and I can say it works very well indeed for really hot stuff or even for not so hot stuff. We are real happy with how it works making yogurt.

After I told her about this discussion, she did have me download the book mentioned above. It is funny to me how all this stuff is known to the folks of yesteryear but a revelation to us.
R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2484
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  18
David Livingston wrote:Well I have nearly finished making my Wonderbox
Cost so far my time plus a couple of yards of Cotton . The material came from some two pairs of trousers ( patched) a pair of bermudas And an old tea towel. Now I need to stuff it. I' m not keen on Polystyrène . Anyone any other suggestions preferably stuff I can er find or make that Will cope with the Heat.
I am keeping the spare material to make a proddy mat
but thats a story for another thread.

David



Perlite, vermiculite, buckwheat hulls, wool seconds? I don't know what you have access to, maybe something there will give you a new idea.


http://www.treebytheseafarms.com/
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Mitchell Willie


Joined: Aug 29, 2012
Posts: 6
I'm gonna be watching this thread like a hawk. Starting construction on a little tiny slice of adorable soon, and I want to build one into the cabinetry, I think.
John Pa


Joined: Dec 22, 2013
Posts: 1
Location: PA
Cooking for large groups over a wood fired grill, I sometimes used a camping cooler to finish off things like baked potatoes, stews, soups, casseroles, etc. buy wrapping with a blanket and placing the item in a camping cooler. This worked great to finish the cooking and also to keep items hot as another course was cooked on the grill or stove. This is the same principle as the haybox and I already had the large cooler. I like multiple functions. I guess I was a permie before it was cool!
Cash Olsen


Joined: Dec 11, 2011
Posts: 11
Two years ago I was tasked with preparing the beans for our annual fundraiser. I wanted to make a demonstration of it, so I chose to build a rocket stove and use the haybox to cook 20 pounds of pinto beans. The beans were not pre-soaked and were placed over the rocket stove and brought to a rolling boil for two hours. They were taken off the fire about 9:00pm, then wrapped in two layers of sleeping bags and allowed to set overnight until being served about 10:30am the next morning. They were fully cooked and very tasty. By the way, for the food safety police - the temperature the next morning when the sleeping bags were removed was 170 deg. F. The total wood burned was less than two pounds. The aluminum foil in the picture was wrapped around the vertical heat riser to cut down on drafts because the bricks were only stacked, no mortar was used. Rebar between the sawhorses supported the pot.



[Thumbnail for 2012-04-28_21-16-51_679.jpg]

Joe DiMeglio


Joined: Nov 30, 2011
Posts: 20
    
    1
paul wheaton wrote:I would very much like to see this thread get fleshed out a lot more. More pictures, more links to blogs, more embeded videos, more, more, more .... So, in that spirit, I will pony up a permies.com care pacakge of two mugs, two tshirts and two decks of cards (see http://homesteadgear.com/ for details on these items) to the best post in this thread over the next few days.

(this post will self destruct in four days)


Your wish is my command, oh giant overall festooned man! Here's a link to a whole grip of different solar cooking and water pasturizing devices (important given the dwindling fresh water supplies worldwide). None are hayboxes, but some have the same insulation level to retain the heat captured form the sun. They even include the Approvecho rocket stove, even though it's not solar.

http://solarcooking.org/plans/

This PDF is an Approvecho publication showing plans for early DIY rocket stoves, a rocket bread oven, solar cookers and a hay box. All the plans and materials lists are included. It also includes some rationale on when and where to use diferent devices, determined by greatest positive effect acheived.

http://weblife.org/capturing_heat/pdf/capturing_heat.pdf

Enjoy!

Cheers!


"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - J. Krishnamurti
Jennifer Herod


Joined: Nov 13, 2013
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
    
    1
I perused you tube and found two videos on the how-to make a wonderbox. This was more informative and more "colorful" .


Jay Angler


Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 52
    
    1
Hi All,

I used a variation of this concept when camping, by simply wrapping something that cooks largely by absorbing water (like pasta or rice) in a large towel after bringing it to a boil. Just a couple of comments:
1. making something to a specific pot increases the risk of having too much air-space vs pot contents, or having to have several sizes of cover to use with several common pot sizes - seems bulky for my kitchen, but maybe some creative Permie will design a folding pattern that can be folded like a tea cosey around different sized pots.
2. From "Product Safety Australia" - "Materials such as cotton, cotton/polyester blends, rayon and acrylic are generally more combustible than 100 per cent polyester, nylon, wool and silk. The weave is also a factor in determining flammability. Fine threads with open weaves are more combustible than heavy, closed weaves of the same material." ....so if you want to be safe, the inner lining should be a tightly woven wool rather than cotton. This site, http://www.vintagevisage.net/Burn_Chart.html , gives a chart to help you confirm what a material is if you are re-purposing fabric. I used a wool shirt from a Thrift shop to re-cover some oven mitts, and it has been very successful. The original covers were cotton and they didn't stand up all that well.
3. Has anyone considered using poodle fur for the insulation? It's a under-utilized renewable resource in my area, but it may give off an odour when warmed if the fur isn't fairly clean.
4. I could see this principle working very well for re-hydrating dried fruits or veggies also. I'm less comfortable with cooking proteins from a raw state but I may be being paranoid.
5. I can see using this system when cooking energy is in short supply or the weather is hot, but as a charter member of "The Baker's Guide to Home Heating" living on the North Wet Coast, I intentionally cook/bake things first thing in the morning to take the chill out of the kitchen. The towel we used when camping would end up damp from the steam, so I'd worry that if one doesn't make sure that the padded cover doesn't dry thoroughly, it could end up mildewed. I'm not saying there isn't a place for this, just encouraging people to evaluate the reasons they are using it.
James Cheney


Joined: Dec 22, 2013
Posts: 1
The site ecowonderoven.com/ has a lot of information and recipes for using them.
Vicky Barton


Joined: Mar 07, 2013
Posts: 24
Location: Chattaroy, north of Spokane, WA
Seriously... after watching the video posted by Jennifer Herod, I watched a few more videos from the same gals. I am impressed and want to make this 'slow cooker' wonderbox.
When I saw "hay box" it made me think of the way I've kept my chickens' water from freezing during recent arctic freezes. I made a 3" thick nest of hay (straw) in a large steel mixing bowl and settled an old copperbottom One gallon pot in that nest. I fill it with very warm water in the morning and it stays liquid all day even at 8F degrees. By the end of the day, it would develop a thin ice layer but the hens had no problem pecking that to get their drinks.
So I might fill my wonderbox with straw instead of styrofoam beads. Maybe someone already mentioned that. I have lots more to read on this thread.


Livin' on a thread.
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
mmm time to think out of the Box .
Over here in France its not called a hay box nor a wonder box . Its a Marmite Norvegienne
Its has its own face book page
http://fr-fr.facebook.com/marmite.norvegienne

Blog
http://www.marmite-norvegienne.com/

Wiki page
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmite_norv%C3%A9gienne

and even some You tube clips in English !



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YslFBomSw6I

It was quite popular in WWII what with the disruption of fuel and electic supply .
I came across the word in a recent article in Consomaction the Magazine of the Biocoop here in France.

David
Rebecca Holman


Joined: Dec 30, 2012
Posts: 184
    
  18
Here is an entire thread from YouTube about cooking with Wonder Boxes

Gobs of YT Videos on Cooking With Wonder Boxs
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1305
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
Jay Angler wrote:
2. From "Product Safety Australia" - "Materials such as cotton, cotton/polyester blends, rayon and acrylic are generally more combustible than 100 per cent polyester, nylon, wool and silk. The weave is also a factor in determining flammability. Fine threads with open weaves are more combustible than heavy, closed weaves of the same material." ....so if you want to be safe, the inner lining should be a tightly woven wool rather than cotton. This site, http://www.vintagevisage.net/Burn_Chart.html , gives a chart to help you confirm what a material is if you are re-purposing fabric. I used a wool shirt from a Thrift shop to re-cover some oven mitts, and it has been very successful. The original covers were cotton and they didn't stand up all that well.


I don't think the material used will make that much difference. Maximum temperature is boiling (212F/100C) as all the recipes use water (water can be boiled over a campfire in a paper bag for the same reason). I do know that there have been quilts that have come out of the drier with the fill clumped and partly melted, but I think the drier gets hotter than this. I have seen them made out of Styrofoam with holes cut to the exact size of the pot with no melting happening. Very impressive lasting power. Even a laundry basket with two layers of sleeping bag works fine... the basket and sleeping bags can still be used for their original purpose too.

Making an insulated sleeve for a hot soapstone (or even some focused solar ovens) on the other hand... I would use rock wool.

Instead of soapstone, I would like to try a steel container full of tin. Put that in the fire box to heat then use as a portable cook top, oven warmer or even room warmer. In the case of a room warmer, the amount of insulation would determine how fast it let go of it's heat or how long it lasted.
Vicky Barton


Joined: Mar 07, 2013
Posts: 24
Location: Chattaroy, north of Spokane, WA
David Livingston ... merci beaucoup for sharing links about MarmiteNorvegienne. I've looked at the links and photos.
I see you live in Angers, France. My older sisters do also. I've lived in France twice in my life, and had two more visits since then. I miss the foods and lifestyle. It's so different from the states. It's nice to see such interests as this wonderbox cooker in France.
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
Its too wet to dig outside today in Angers so I went digging on the internet instead
And found this http://hokasse.dk/en/
Høkasse is Danish for Haybox . This site is in English And is the site of a social enterprise selling hay boxes that double as a seat! Cool idea plus ideas for cooking hot And cold with your haybox.
Worth checking out before you build your own hay box.

David
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
Hi Vicky
I may know your sisters as I am often found at the café " My Favourite Place " , "The Welsh " pub And the english library
David.
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
http://www.rivercottage.net/forum/ask/processing-and-other-crafts/20900hay-box-cooking/

Interesting practical discussion on using hayboxes

David
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15449
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I would very much like to see people trying this complete with pictures. And reports on how it went.

Maybe even if it is nothing more than a plastic tote with a bunch of towels.




sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Mike Heywood


Joined: Aug 24, 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Kelso, Washington, USA
    
    1
Here are two of my wife's creation at work.




They really do work that well.



[edit: embedded the video]
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3137
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
I disagree - at least as a person living offgrid (for 20+ years)... off-grid in sunny Vermont.
I have a small chest freezer that I run May-September. There simple is not enough power to run the freezer the rest of the year.


K Nelfson wrote:
Cooking fuel is minimal. At least, compared to running a freezer. And running a freezer is minimal compared to heating/cooling your house.

Here's a link to some research I did on the topic. I figured that canning would be more efficient over the long term but that a freezer would take less energy if the food was stored for, say, a few months. Turns out that it's not so.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WeOt4vE_dQKWg1Gz8kDCWiFNpgkR6WPeFtOo_dEvLKk/edit?usp=sharing
Andrew Schreiber


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 146
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
    
    9
Saw that Paul wanted folks to post their experiences with the hay box. Here is one I've been using for 2 years now, pretty much all the time.



Just took this photo, you can see a pot of beans in there. I just cooked a 3 gallon pot of pasta with it today when cooking lunch for the community. it gets a lot of use.

It;s just a simple plywood box made from scrap material. I made it to be 2 inches wider than the average 3 gallon pots we have. If I have a bigger pot, I just wrap it in a few blankets, since I don't have a box for them. For some of our larger events, when we needed to cook huge amounts of food, we got a whole bunch of wool Uhaul shipping blankets and sleeping bags and made an impromptu haybox filled trailer. Worked pretty well.

I used to use wheat straw, but I prefer the wool blankets now, since they do not leave any bits of straw in the food, and seem to work just as well.

I generally use it when I have something that needs to "simmer" or stay at a constant temperature for a long time. So, rice, paste, potatoes, beans. I bring the water to a boil, add the dried good, bring it back to a boil and stick it in the hay box. I pretty much just leave it in their until I am ready for it.

A dense pot of rice can stay warm (too warm to easily put in your mouth) for about 6 hours.

If I had to redesign it, I would make it a bit larger to be able to have more blankets on all sides. That would probably increase the efficiency by a whole lot.

Another thing is, if you use it all the time, it is always sort of warm, so when you put a ht pot into it, the blankets don;t suck up much heat, and the whole thing remains warmer longer.

Hawboxes rock. So simple. So efficient. scalable to any size. It's a no brainer.


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