Monday, November 6, 2017

Will a thermal cooker work with a teardrop trailer?

A few weeks ago I became very interested in thermal cookers as an efficient, non-electric way to cook food while camping. Video bloggers, Phil and Vanessa live full time out of their Honda Element and use their Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker to make meals on the road without having to plug anything into a socket.



The way a thermal cooker works is by using thermal mass to slowly cook food that has already been brought to a boil. A thermal cooker is essential two pots: one is a thick bottom pot that holds the food and is placed on the fuel source such as a camp stove. The food is brought to a boil and then placed into the second pot, essentially a large Thermos. The food continues to cook for a few hours, providing a hot meal without having to cook something on the spot.


Normally, when we are teardrop camping or on the road our lunches are cold. We have sandwiches, dips, crackers, tuna, etc. I thought a thermal cooker might be a great way to enjoy a warm meal while in transit or while at the campground. We could start it in the morning and within 3-4 hours we could have lunch. Or we could start a dish in the afternoon and have a quick dinner. This could be beneficial if we are camping later in the year when it gets dark earlier or we don't want to cook outside.


Last weekend, I tested a thermal cooker by Cook's Essentials. This was the smallest thermal cooker I could find and one I thought would fit in the teardrop trailer easily. I tested it in my home kitchen with a vegetable curry similar to Phil and Vanessa's road-worthy recipe. In the top pot provided with the Cook's Essentials system, I placed some rice and beans we already had on hand.


I brought the vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic), red curry paste, coconut milk and some Bragg's Liquid Aminos to a boil in the inner pot on the stove. I placed the pot into the thermal cooker and went for a three hour hike in the hills. When I got back...success! I had a tender, vegetable curry that was still hot. The top pan with the rice was less warm, but all the food was cooked and retained heat for quite a while.


I have yet to test this on the road. I would need to find a space in our trailer where the pot won't topple over and spill the liquid. While in camp, the pot will fit nicely in our galley until we return for a hot meal.

I'm now on the lookout for a few good recipes...

2 comments:

  1. How very interesting! We've been using this technique (not knowing that it's actually called "thermal cooking") for making oatmeal. We buy regular old fashioned oats, mix the oats with raisins, honey, seeds etc. in a wide mouth thermos (or as of late 10 oz Hydro Flask tumbler), pour hot water over them, cover and wait - your breakfast is ready in about 10 minutes. We started using this daily at home, not just camping. The Hydro Flask tumbler became my fast favorite: keeps tea and coffee hot, beer and ice cream cold (and dry hands), makes a perfect oatmeal steep vessel, and is wide with low center of gravity for safely brewing coffee using Aeropress.

    I love the idea of how much fuel could be saved using thermal cooking and will be eagerly following your progress. We've been using BioLite stove mostly these last few years, so the fuel is something we collect and appreciate. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Aneta. Yes! I know of some backpack campers that use the same Thermos technique. I was happy to see that this little pot made enough food for at least two meals for two people.

      Delete