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Hay Box Cooker

The versatile Hay box cooker

Cook your food without electricity, gas, fire…

That sounds pretty appealing to most any one, regardless of their circumstances.

Not until I had been involved in the solar cooking world for some time did I first hear about a Hay Box Cooker, a unique and ingenious little contraption designed to cook a meal without the use of fuel. Rather, it is designed to continue the; already in progress cooking action, initiated earlier by means or use of another fuel.This has often been described as Heat-Retention cooking.

Here is how it works…

After your food is brought to a hard boil or, has been allowed to simmer for a period of time over a flame or electric burner, transfer the cooking vessel to a well insulated container, in this case your hay box cooker. Cover and seal well, allowing enough heat retention to permit the food to finish the cooking process in a manner similar to slow, or crock pot cooking.The insulated container will then allow the food to continue cooking with its own heat and to keep the food hot or warm for several hours longer, allowing for a timely and warm meal.

Why use a hay box cooker?

In many third world countries, a hay box is used in conjunction with a solar cooker or other types of fuel cookers or stoves in order to preserve valuable and scarce fuel resources. Since many people can ill afford the cost of cooking fuel, and also the means or ability to obtain it on a regular and practical basis, the use of a hay box can prolong or extend the meager fuel supplies of the poor, thereby becoming an economic benefit to the families and individuals who use them. See how one organization is using the "hay box" cooker to help people in Africa improve their lives.

Use of a hay box with a solar cooker has been the means to increasing the quantities of food that are possible to be cooked when using such a "time constrained" method of cooking such as solar cooking. Once food is brought to a steady boil or steady simmer and maintained for several minutes, it can then be transferred (in the same pot) over to the hay box for continued cooking, thus saving time and continued fuel consumption.

Though there is no actual fuel consumption when using solar cookers; by continuing the cooking process in a hay box, it frees up the solar cooker more quickly, allowing other foods or meals to be cooked during the same day.

A hay box is a "slooow" cooker…

Cooking times using a hay box will vary depending on the types of foods and the initial cook time before the transfer to the hay box. Also the effectiveness of your box will depend on how well it is constructed. Precision construction will help to create a tight, efficient, insulating wrap for your cooking vessel.

As with any new idea, method or technology, it will require regular use of this exceptional tool to become proficient and productive with it. There is a learning curve or experimental factor involved with learning to "supplement" your cooking practices by using a hay box. But the effort is well worth it.

The hay box is really just an earlier and more primitive form of our modern day insulated thermos or cooler.

Early documentation of its use has been found within a few almanac style publications in the mid to late 1800's. There is also documentation of government endorsement for the use of hay boxes in the United States during the Great Depression and WWII in order to help people ration their fuel supplies and stores.

And it also stands to reason that the know-how for "insulated warmers"; existed probably long before our relatively recent awareness of the technology.

Hay boxes can be a handy tool when camping, picnicking and cooking for large groups… And even just for daily home use.
Why not build a hay box for your own use… 

Here is a link to an old book published originally in 1913...

Book: Fireless Cooking In America

Great Article to help understand retained heat, thermal cooking and cooking inefficiencies: Low Tech Magazine...Very in depth.

Some books on similar subject:

* Need more Emergency, Survival and Disaster Preparedness Information? Visit our website: Cantinawest Survival.

Tell us how you built your own Haybox Cooker?

What makes a great Haybox cooker (thermal box)?

We would like to hear your experiences with making and using Haybox cookers, especially when using them in conjunction with solar cookers.

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Just an observation, really 
I have looked at some of your haybox pages and am frankly quite amazed at the hoops through which people have been jumping to build a perfectly simple, …

Igloo Playmate Plus Cooler also functions as a Haybox Cooker 
I use an Igloo Playmate Plus cooler as a haybox cooker. I simply put several towels in the bottom of the cooler, set my container of hot food on them, …

Hay Box Rooster 
Some years ago I had an enormous fifteen pound Cornish Cross rooster. The largest of fifty meat birds, he lived a good life, and even managed to mate …

fits like a glove... 
A few years ago, while taking a college art course, I worked with papier mache. No, not the flour-and-water paste kind, but the art paste kind. We did …

No Box Required (for Haybox cooking) 
I've been using hotbox/haybox cooking on and off for years, but without any permanent box set up. At present I'm cooking for a family of 6 with one electric …

Just about any old junk will do. Not rated yet
A haybox need not be anything fancy: a cardboard box filled with straw, old newspaper, old clothing or cloth bags filled with sawdust will do as good a …

Haybox cooker from a styrofoam ice chest Not rated yet
To build my cooker, I found a Styrofoam ice chest big enough to hold a cast iron gallon-sized pot with its matching lid. I made sure that there was enough …

Another Use for a Laundry Basket (thermal heat retention) Not rated yet
I was researching about solar ovens and such when I came across a video of someone cooking beans in a dutch oven and using a laundry basket as a haybox/hot …

hay box cookers from junk Not rated yet
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 …

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Materials for Homemade Solar Cookers and Hay boxes 

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