What Is a Energy Saving Cooker/ Thermal Cooker?
Basically, it’s a very big vacuum flask that can cook and keep warm for hours without using power. Like a Thermos, it has a layer of vacuum insulation that helps retain the heat in the food for many hours. The heat cooks the food slowly in the same way as a slow cooker would. It’s popularly known as the Magic Cooker, other names include Wonder Cooker, Eco Pot and Self Cooking Pot.
The best thing about a thermal cooker is that it continues the cooking process without using any electricity or gas. Slow cookers consume a lot of power and tend to dry up some of the liquid in the food. Sometimes food gets burnt at the bottom if it is left to cook for too long without being stirred.
Problems like these are not encountered in thermal cooking as the food will never dry up or get burnt. Once the food is inside, there is no need to keep checking or stirring the pot. Most meat will turn out tender, moist and cooked to perfection, while the vegetables and potatoes retain their shape and texture. No wonder it’s called a magic cooker!
Small models (3 litres) come with one stainless steel inner pot with a lid and one outer insulated pot. Most larger models (6 litres or more) come with two stackable inner cooking pots—one large pot and one small pot plus the outer insulated pot.
With two inner cooking pots, you can prepare two separate dishes simultaneously with one cooker. Try preparing a casserole in the large pot and rice in the small pot, or soup in the big pot and dessert in the small pot, or even make a cake in the pot. Some of my recipes for thermal cooking are included below for you to prepare some great dishes using a thermal cooker.
How to Use
There are only a few simple steps to cooking with a thermal cooker:
- Prepare the ingredients and put them into the inner cooking pot that comes with the cooker set.
- Put the inner pot on the stove and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the recipe.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the inner cooking pot from the stove to the outer thermal pot, close the lid and leave it to do the rest of the cooking. How easy is that? It will save you so much time and believe me, you will have more time to pamper yourself.
After the minimum required cooking time, the meal is ready to serve. Even if you are not ready to eat, the food stays warm for a few hours so you can always enjoy warm meals without having to reheat the food.
The bigger the cooker, the longer the food will stay warm. A six-litre cooker will retain heat for 8 to 10 hours, with a heat loss of 3 or 4°C per hour. The more liquid you have in the cooking, the longer the food will stay hot. The recommended instruction is to fill the pot with over 50% and up to 80% full with food and liquid. If you fill a six-litre pot with food, that amount might even be good for two meals for a small family.
The thermal cooker can also be used as a cooler because it retains the temperature of the food. It is great for storing chilled food like salad, desserts and ice cubes when bringing food outdoors in summer.
Food Safety Standards
The safe temperature for hot food should be above 60°C to prevent the risk of food poisoning, while cold food should be stored below 4°C. If any of the cooked food needs to be reheated, make sure it is reheated above 60°C to minimise the risk of food poisoning.
Advantages of Thermal Cooking
- Cooking time on the stove is less than 20 minutes (yay!).
- Great for casseroles and slow-cooker recipes.
- Food stays moist and tender and vegetables retain their shape and texture.
- The thermal cooker can be used for making cakes or muffins.
- Food does not get overcooked, dried up or burnt.
- Cooking can be done on the gas stove, electric stove and open campfire (great for camping).
- Thermal cooking saves energy because cooking time on the stove is less than 20 minutes (definitely less money to pay when the gas bill arrives!).
- No scrubbing of burnt food and less washing to do because everything can be served from the pot if nobody complains!