Non-electric Slow Cooker

Discussion in 'Camp Cooking & Dutch Ovens' started by Little Patriot, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. Little Patriot

    Little Patriot Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Not sure if anyone has seen or tried the non-electric slow cooker, Wonderbag, but I thought it looked interesting for those wanting to camp off grid and contribute to a good cause at the same time.
    Uncommongoods.com sells it, and for each one sold, they donate one to a family in need.

    You can order it directly from wonderbag.co.za
    The site does a good job explaining the rationale and purpose of the product, and it includes recipes.
     
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  2. lorieandkeith

    lorieandkeith Novice

    Dear Deb and Kyle:

    Thrilled that you bring this up. We use a wonderbag and pressure cooker in the Campinn and at home. Here is an example:

    Steel cut oats takes about 45 minutes to cook. If I put it in a pressure cooker and bring it up to heat - just a couple of minutes on the heat, then I can put it in the wonderbag over night. In the morning it is cooked.

    This works well for beans, kamut, wheat berries, rissotto, soup... I think it would work well for pot roast or beef burgundy, but I haven't tried it.

    I use the pressure cooker to bring water up to boil very fast also.

    I hope this is helpful. I am more comfortable using a pressure cooker for this kind of cooking than a regular pan, as you can keep track of moisture more readily and not burn anything. I strongly recommend a european pressure cooker rather than american as they are much safer and easier to use. e.g. Kuhn Rikon. I have been severely burned over much of my torso with an american pressure cooker explosion.

    Warm regards,

    Lorie
     
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  3. Randy

    Randy Junior Ranger Donating Member

    You had me going Lorie right up until the explosion part ! So sorry!
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
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  4. Little Patriot

    Little Patriot Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Lorie,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with the Wonderbag non-electric slow cooker. It's also good to know about the safer European pressure cooker. My husband briefly used a cooker for various meats and other recipes, but he cooked outside with it now that I recall. I'm guessing it was due to safety and why he stopped using it.
    Lori, I am sorry that happened, and I hope you fully recovered from the accident.

    Randy,
    I think you can use most any dutch oven type cookware; the website video showed what looked like Le Crueset cookware or something similar. The Wonderbag comes in two sizes: large and small.

    I like the idea of the Wonderbag for camping because a meal can finish cooking while I'm doing other things.
    I like that it's a product that makes someone else's life easier when much of their time is spent looking for cooking fuel.
    I like how it supports a worthwhile foundation that reaches out to others in areas and situations we can only imagine.
    I like how it provides an opportunity for others to rally behind and support.
    I like that its environment friendly in many ways.

    It would make a nice gift too.

    Deb
     
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  5. Jean W

    Jean W Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Lorie,

    This thread has caught my curiosity.
    Thought the wonderbag would be great for traveling or adventure days. Prepare meal, place in wonderbag, enjoy days activities. Return to a cooked meal.

    I primarily use the 10 inch DO. What size bag, large or small would be appropriate?
    For traveling days, how well does the bag tolerate sitting in a moving vehicle?

    The pressure cooker, I have previously used american made canners for food preservation, the rattling presssure knob drove me nuts. No experience with normal food preparation or european pressure cookers. Can you explain more about the differences and meal preparation use.

    Thanks,
    Jean
     
  6. lorieandkeith

    lorieandkeith Novice

    Dear Jean:

    I'm so pleased I can help.

    1. Steam Monitoring - Pressure Cookers

    The American pressure cookers have the rattling weight on top of a steam vent. As you know, the speed of the rattle is your way of monitoring temperature. I've had three european pressure cookers, one Magafesa (Spanish and the design has since changed) and two Kuhn Rikons (Swiss, and the design is pretty standard.) The pressure is regulated through a spring. Once you get the temp to the red mark on the spring, you reduce temperature and leave it there. Of course you have to get used to how much you have to reduce heat, but generally for me, I have to reduce it to the minimum on the dial.

    2. Safety: Pressure Cookers.

    The steam vent in the older American pressure cookers can become clogged. The pressure builds up until the clog dissolves, and the rattle on the top is blown off. Or, the steam vent becomes clogged, and you think the pressure is down, so you open the pressure cooker when there is steam in it. When you do that the lid flies off.

    This is the Kuhn Rikon I use for camping: Duromatic® Stockpot 8.75" 8.4-qt | Kuhn Rikon

    It fits in my deep storage underneath the thicker storage tray. First, the primary steam valve doesn't fly off - you screw a black nut on and the pressure is regulated through the red lines on the valve. Second, there is a silicone plug that will release pressure if there is a dangerous build up. Third, both of these steam release devices are underneath a stainless steel tee pee that directs steam down toward the pan. Fourth, the gasket will dislodge and vent steam on the side of there is a dangerous build up.

    After the pressure cooker explosion I referred to I couldn't look at a pressure cooker for years without shuddering. But I am completely comfortable with the Kuhn Rikon. Reliable, heavy enough that the temperature is easy to keep steady, and the safety features are effective. You can get replacement parts for everything.

    3. Food Prep with Pressure Cooker.

    In a pressure cooker, you never use more than about 1/2 the space inside the pan. This is because you need sufficient air to build up pressure. Plus, you don't want food anywhere near the steam valve to clog it.

    If I cook e.g. wheat berries, kamut, barley, legumes, or steel cut oats in the pressure cooker, my general pattern is as follows. If the instructions call for 1 cup of grain to 4 cups of water, I typically use 1 cup of grain and 3.75 cups of water. This is because with the spring mechanism, water doesn't boil off.

    Depending on my day, timing has choices:

    Choice 1: If the instructions call for a 40 minute cook, I cook for 20 minutes. I bring the PC up to the second red line, and then turn down the heat to minimum. I leave it on the burner. Since I've used it so much, I am comfortable with the temperatures and I know how much heat to put under it - I can ignor it. I don't need to constantly monitor. You would have to use awhile it to feel that way I think. In the camp inn, I use a heat diffuser.

    Choice 2: If the instructions call for a 40 minute cook, I bring the heat up to the second line and cook for a couple of minutes, and put the PC in the wonderbag and leave it for hours. No worry about burning or scortching... When I come back it is ready.

    I think it would be the same for meat. I would hesitate to cook vegetables in this way because they would be mushy. But you could cook a roast while you were gone, and then throw in your vegetables and bring it up to temp and it would be cooked almost immediately.

    When I make soup I do this: Sautee onions and garlic in the PC. Put cheap stew meat and bay leaves in the pan and brown. Put cheap wine or water in the pan. Bring PC up to temperature for a couple of minutes. Put in wonderbag. Later, I add whatever vegetables I want to the soup, bring it up to temperature, let the pressure release and eat.

    4. Size of wonder bag.

    You would defintely want the large size. The small size is good for about a 2 quart pan. It would be hard to use pans with a long handle in the wonderbag.

    5. Traveling with the wonderbag.

    I think it would be fine with your dutch oven, because the lid would be heavy enough. The bottom part of the bag is not puffy - it is level and about an inch thick. The cast iron of the dutch oven would work well in the wonder bag. I think you could do casserolls or egg dishes pretty well because the protein would never over cook and would stay moist. Soup would work well - I don't think you would have as much risk of over cooking the vegetables.

    6. Water in the Pressure Cooker

    I just want to mention that we use the pressure cooker to bring water for tea and coffee up to boil in the winter. Very fast. We then put the water in a thermos and use it throughout the day.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Lorie
     
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  7. Gypsy

    Gypsy Newbie

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
  8. Jean W

    Jean W Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Lorie,

    Thanks for the information. You obviously use the pressure cooker a lot. Never considered using a pressure cooker and a wonderbag.

    I will have to continue ponding these two items.

    Jean
     
  9. GhostOrchid

    GhostOrchid Novice

    The wonderbag is really fascinating, and moving up rapidly on our "wanna get" list.

    The Adorable Wife's been looking for a good way to make asian style simple sticky rice, e.g., Calrose, without having to bring a rice cooker and the wonderbag looks like it may be just the ticket.

    A little stumped on which size to get. Lori, you mention that the large size is preferable. Most of the time it's just me and AW, so a 2 quart size pan in a small wonderbag would be more than enough. But, we do occasionally camp with a group where we prepare something for a pot-luck, so the large size would probably be better for that application.

    What size pan do you use with the large size? If just cooking for two, would the large size be overkill, or less efficient than the small, or would it just cinch up tight against a smaller pan and work equally as well?
     
  10. lorieandkeith

    lorieandkeith Novice

    Dear GO and AW:

    This is an interesting question.

    Wonderbag Standard Use
    I put a 2 quart pan in my large wonderbag, and while I think it might work for you, I don't think it would work as efficiently. My reasoning is two fold. First, there is a little air space between the pan and the bag, causing slight inefficiency. Second, the smaller pan would provide a smaller source of heat, by volume of the food inside. I think between the two of these factors, the wonderbag would still be just fine but it would not keep food hot for as long.

    Wonderbag Altered Use
    I think you could overcome this problem by putting the 2 quart pan in the large wonderbag, and encircle it with a bath towel. It still would be a smaller heat source inside the bag, but you would just keep the pan on the burner for another minute before putting it in the bag.

    Small Wonderbag
    I don't have a small, but I think it would only hold a 2 quart pan. You couldn't use a dutch oven or a larger pan in it. However, before the wonderbag I used to cover my pans with bath towels. Maybe you could augment the wonderbag with bath towels to make it cover a larger pan. Remember that the wonderbag doesn't work well if the pan has a long handle.

    Storage of the Wonderbag
    Well, it is filled with insulation. It's poofy. It can store in the deep storage bins or on the counter in front of the cooler, but nowhere else in the Galley really. I always have extra space in the galley and have been stuffing it filled with extra paper towel rolls to take up the space. Thus, the poofiness works for me.

    Another Option: the HotPan
    Another option that could work for you is the hotpan from Kuhn Rikon. It is a two part insulated pan that keeps food warm for 2 hours (according to the website). They have a 2 quart and a 3 quart pan. I don't have one, and suspect there are pros and cons between this and the Wonderbag. But it might be worth your time to look at:

    Hotpan Cook & Serveware 2 Quart Casserole - Orange | Kuhn Rikon

    I hope this is helpful.

    Lorie
     
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