How to Save Cooking Energy and 90% Reduction Reminder

Sharon May 31st, 2007

Today, the last day of May, is your last chance to get in on the ground floor of the 90% reduction project!! There are nearly 100 people signed up, and more than 25 blogs going! We would be thrilled if you wanted to join as well. Remember, you can start anytime, and you don’t have to achieve 90%.

Here’s the link to Miranda’s blog where the rules, FAQ and Intro are posted if you want to learn more about the project:

If you want to discuss the project, we have a yahoogroup devoted to the subject - you can join by sending an email here: [email protected]

How many people do you think we can get this up to? Enough for a press release? A movement? A revolution? When Miranda and I cooked this up, we had no idea it would be so popular - we’re so excited.

In the spirit of our really riotous reduction, I’ve been thinking about how to cut my cooking energy down as much as possible. Here are 25 ways I’ve come up with to cut cooking energy.

1. Turn off the stove/oven before you are finished. This is fairly simple - when you soup is almost hot, turn off the stove - it will continue to heat for a while. When your bread is 15 minutes short of baked, turn off the oven and let it sit in the hot oven. You can do this for longer with things that are hotter for longer, or less sensitive, like casseroles. Be cautious with meat - you don’t want food poisoning. Experiment.

2. Eat more salads, sandwiches and raw foods that don’t require cooking.

3. Make a hay box cooker - insulated a box with a blanket, hay or other good insulator. Get your food nice and hot, and then put it in that insulated box and let the retained heat do the cooking.

4. Use a pressure cooker - they save a lot of time when cooking beans, grains, stews and such.

5. Capture heat whenever you can. Instead of heating up several pots of water for tea or soup each day, heat that water and put it in a thermos, and use it for tea when you need it.

6. Use a wood cookstove to heat your house and cook at the same time. Save heavy canning and long cooking projects for times when you would be heating the house anyhow.

7. Or, if you heat with wood but don’t have a cookstove, cook on your heating stove. Put your kettle on the stove. Keep soup on the back of the stove. Have someone build a sheet metal oven for you (just a metal box) that will enable you to bake on the stove.

8. Build an earth or masonry oven outside and use twigs and other scrap wood to bake and cook. A hot earth oven will stay hot enough for you to start by making pizza, then move down to bread, stew and finally dehydrating. Info in _Build Your Own Earth Oven_ by Kiko Denzer and _Capturing Heat Two_ by Still, Hatfield and Scott of the Aprovecho Research Center.

9. Build or buy a solar oven. Instructions for making your own are available on many sites, and in _Capturing Heat: Five Earth Friendly Cooking Technologies and How to Build Them_ by Still and Kness of the source above. The Maria Telkes Solar Cooker gets a bit hotter than some other models, as does the commercial ones.

10. Build a solar dehydrator for food preservation instead of using an electric one. Here’s a cool one:

11. Don’t preheat your oven - that is, put your food in while the oven is preheating to capture that heating energy. The only exceptions where this isn’t a good idea are a few really delicate baked goods, but generally this works fine, although you may have to slightly adjust your timing. Practice makes perfect.

12. If you have an electric oven, convert to natural gas or propane - they are much more efficient ways of making heat.

13. Build a rocket stove or rocket bread oven as seen in the first _Capturing Heat_ - a rocket stove uses biomass fuel much more efficiently than a woodstove or earth oven. A rocket bread oven can cook 20 loaves at a time.

14. Have a baking day, or two a week. Do all your oven work then and store your baked goods.

15. Use a crockpot if you have an electric stove - a crockpot generally will use less energy than an electric stove, although not a gas one.

16. Only bake in a full oven - plan ahead and while you are baking your bread, also consider roasting a pan of vegetables or baking that pie you’ll want later.

17. Don’t open your oven or remove pot lids more often than necessary. Keep the heat in.

18. Use a microwave instead of a stove (I personally hate microwaves, but they are more efficient).

19. Make large batches of things and reheat, cooking less often (although this might not make sense if you would give up fridge or freezer otherwise - think it through carefully).

20. Lactoferment pickles, kimchi, etc… and don’t can them. Just keep them in a cool place, and save the canning energy.

21. Switch from a coffee percolator to a press coffee maker.

22. Soak beans overnight in cold water to reduce cooking time.

23. Use cast iron or other heavy cookware that retains heat better than cheap aluminum. That way, you can turn things off even sooner.

24. Make your own low-heat charcoal, cook over the process, and then use agrichar to improve your garden soil.

25. Get your cat to sit on the butter warmer (covered of course) when you need it melted. Ok, this one isn’t a real suggestion, but I’m one short, and it probably would work, if you could persuade the cat not to eat the butter.

6 Responses to “How to Save Cooking Energy and 90% Reduction Reminder”

  1. Anonymouson 31 May 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Excellent ideas! I’m inspired to put more of these into practice. Here are a few more things I’ve done:

    *Warm up a tortilla (or some such) by putting it in a damp, dark-colored cloth and placing it in the sun for a few minutes. You don’t even need a solar oven.

    *Use your car as a solar dehydrator. I put some black cloth down and set sliced strawberries over it on a “cooling” rack raised up on supports for air circulation. After 2 days, the berries were nicely dried (and the car smelled like delicious strawberries!).

    *I “cook” my oatmeal by putting oats in hot water, turning off the stove, and waiting 20 minutes. Nice, warm cereal with no watching and stirring! A similar thing can be done with pasta, though I’ve not tried it yet.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!


  2. mimuluson 01 Jun 2007 at 4:20 pm

    excellent list! I cant think of anymore to add. I use my pressure cooker almost daily…I highly recommend everyone invest in one.

  3. Correneon 02 Jun 2007 at 7:35 am

    Another idea that I use often: use the toaster oven instead of the big oven. I can cook chicken breasts or potatoes or fish or lots of things in the toaster oven. It heats up faster, and I’m sure it uses waaay less energy.

  4. Deb Gon 02 Jun 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Great tips. I read somewhere that the only foods that need to go into a pre-heated oven are foods that contain baking powder. That the baking powder won’t work right without the pre-heat.

  5. BoysMomon 02 Jun 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Deb g,
    I believe foods that rely on beaten in air for expansion have to go into a preheated oven so the air doesn’t escape before the food sets, such as soufles, popovers, and angelfood cake, for example.

  6. Anonymouson 04 Jun 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Worth pointing out that electric kettles are far more energy efficient than heating on a gas stovetop. I would think even if your electricity is 100% produced from coal, there’d be less total emissions from using an electric kettle, and certainly so if your electricity is from hydro/renewables.

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