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hay box cookers from junk

My first hay box was made of carpet offcuts wrapped in cardboard and painted sky blue. It was okay but chickpeas always came out a bit tough and I my mum gave me a pressure cooker because she didn't approve of the hard chickpeas. So I threw out the haybox and started pressure cooking, but after ten years of steamy kitchens I wanted to try out the old technique with high tech materials, but also keen on recycling. So I decided to make hay boxes out of left over modern insulation.

I now have two hayboxes that I use almost daily. One is made from duct tape and offcuts foil lined bubble wrap, which is normally used behind radiators. I took a cooking pot wrapped layers of leftover insulation and held it in place with with duct tape, and then made a lid the same way but overlapping with the bottom. I've seen people use duct tape to make things like wallets and thought why not just finish the haybox with duct tape. It looks good, like a grey hatbox.

I use it to cook whole un-skinned potatoes which I will later either cut and fry as chips, saute with garlic and onions or just mash with butter. It really takes the work out of cooking because the ingredients are pre-cooked. Russian salad, is now so easy just dump the tough stuff in, potatoes, carrots, whole eggs, boil and leave for a few hours. Then come back cut everything up add the seafood and green peas and mix with mayonnaise, done!

It makes excellent polenta, five minutes boiling, then just leave it for an hour or so. You can eat it soft or let it set and lightly fry, it is really good with fried mushrooms, sausages, spaghetti sauce, chilli sauce or fondue, just make it runny and pour over. Any intense flavored sauce is best friends with polenta. Best thing though you don't have to stir it for an hour and it doesn't stick and burn so really easy washing up.

The haybox makes a good stock from chicken bones, 1 chicken carcass, half an onion, 1 carrot, 1 broken stick of celery, 1 lightly smashed clove of garlic and the rind from a Parmesan. Boil for 5 minutes, put in the haybox and leave for a few hours. Then come back, strain the broth, pick the soft meat off the chicken and reboil with some rice shaped pasta and freshly grated strong cheese like Parmesan or provolone.

The other haybox is made from three squares of hollowed out celotex insulation lined with foil duct tape. The celotex was being thrown out. This fits a cast iron casserole. I wanted clean square lines and had thought that it would be easier to store if it could be taken apart. I covered it in black duct tape, it looks a bit like a Japanese bento box. This is great for making slow cooked stews, and it can cook beans and chickpeas until they are really soft, good for the first stage of making jam, especially quince which usually takes ages. Put the quinces in boil for five minutes then put in the haybox.

The benefits are time saved, I cook for 5 minutes in the morning and save about 45 minutes in the evening, less steam in the kitchen and lower energy bills. The total cost of materials has been mainly for duct tape, so about the cost of newspapers for a week.


Greetings and thank you...???Anonymous?

This is a really great detailed write up on haybox cooking and how easy and feasible it really is.

You have definitely shown how easy it is for anyone to take advantage of such a useful tool for saving time, energy and getting some great food/dishes to boot.

Hay box cookers really do fit very well with the whole concept and reasons for using solar cookers.
You can almost double your capacity for cooking when using a haybox cooker with a solar cooker.

...If you ever want to share some photos of your haybox cookers we would love to see them.

Thank you again for your great insights and experiences.


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