Slow Cooking Without Electricity

When we first went off grid, one of the things I really missed was my electric slow cooker. I had used that thing for cooking carnitas, beans, chicken stock, making yogurt, you name it. I mentioned my yearning to use it again to my husband, but unless we ran the generator for 8 hours (which would be a very expensive way to cook), it just wasn’t possible now. And in the future, when we finally get a solar power system in place, it wouldn’t be very practical. As my husband pointed out, contrary to what the marketers of slow cookers would have you believe, it does actually take a considerable amount of energy to run them.

My old slow cooker...before it was well used. From what I've read, apparently Hamilton Beach is the only slow cooker manufacturer that guarantees their liners don't contain lead which, pretty important to me.

Hmm….but I still really needed a way to slow cook. We are very blessed to have a Sun Oven. It is surprisingly effective. But I like to slow cook my chicken stock for at least a good 24 hours to get all of the minerally goodness out of it, and a Sun Oven is only as good as your available sunlight. And so, like any rational person with a Smartphone, I Googled off grid slow cooking. That’s when I found this.

God bless those people. That YouTube tutorial was such a godsent.

A hay box is surprisingly effective. All you do is throw whatever you’re wanting to cook into a large pot,

bring it to a boil, and then simply place it inside a cooler

lined and stuffed with towels, bedsheets, a winter jacket with a zipper that your son managed to completely destroy…whatever you’ve got lying around really.

You can even use hay if you want to be really authentic. If you’re going to cook for a long time, as in the aforementioned chicken stock, after about 8-12 hours (depending on your cooler and the ambient room temperature), reboil the pot and return it to the cooler. That’s it.

I check the temperature of whatever I’m cooking every time I pull it out of the cooler, partly to be sure of food safety but mostly because I find it so impressive. The coolest temperature I’ve ever had was 146F after leaving chicken stock for 12 hours.

Legitimate slow cooking without electricity. Yup. I’m amazed every time. In fact, I am so consistently impressed that I kind of feel like a sucker for having ever believed that I needed a special appliance for slow cooking.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you run into your kitchen and dramatically throw your slow cooker out the window. I’m just saying you could. 😉