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  1. #1
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    Vacuum flask cooking recipies?

    Gonna ask this here since it seems most appropriate. I've heard about the technique of 'Vacuum flask cooking', where you take a steel lined vacuum flask and fill it with cooking-heat food (with a high liquid content) which has been heated to a boil long enough to kill any bacteria, seal it inside, and let the food simmer in the stored heat for the next several hours. Seems like a good idea for how to make a night's dinner earlier in the day with a solar cooker, for instance. Catch is that while i've heard it discussed, the only recipe i've actually -seen- for it was for steel cut oats. Has anyone else heard of this or know of anything similar?

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    There are low-heat "crockpot" cookers that work on a similar principle -- you toss in the ingredients, bring it to the boil, then remove the pot and wrap it in insulation to minimise heat loss and leave it for a couple of hours.

    As far a recipes go, you'd probably be looking at stews, and yes you would need a high liquid content if you are starting out with dried ingredients. Rice is another option based on the absorption cooking technique.

    Maybe start with a google search on crockpot and slow-cook recipes.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  3. #3
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Quinoa, rice, tvp, orzo, noodles.... They all work with this method.

    We use a sealable pot that is not insulated. Because it does not hold heat as well we must boil it for about 2/3 the normal cooking time, then take it off the heat, seal the lid and store it in a few pieces of cloth in a pannier. Brown rice requires nearly the full 40 minutes. Quinoa is the best.

    A vacuum flask would work even better for one person.
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    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    www.VWVagabonds.com
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    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    That sounds like a great idea, and I'm going to see if I can come up with something. It might also mean if you are camping you only have to get the stove out once a day. Just heat up your next meal and stick it in the Thermos. For some reason Canadians tend to call vacuum flasks after a popular brand.

    On a slightly different angle, I'd like to tell you about my life using Self Heating Meals. I realize in UK that might come out as 'self eating meals'. If you've been in the military, then you are familiar with MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)?



    The Canadian made ones come in a much prettier package, but work the same way. There are two alumunium trays that can fit together. The top one contains your meal (ambient temperature - 5 year expiry date) and the bottom tin contains a chemical that reacts with water to create heat. Add water and put the food tray on top. Put back in the packaging in came in and wait 5 minutes while it steams. Works great. Food tastes awful though.

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    Great ideas!

    I thought about getting a plastic vacuum/insulated container and microwaving food in it (at delis/convenient stores with microwaves). Heat or cook the food, then enjoy a hot/warm meal later at camp without setting up the stove. This is more for solo camping. It's more fun to cook when you're with partners.

    Any recipes?

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    How much does altitude affect this method of cooking? I know that regular cooking times seemed to get really long above 5000 feet and then more so as you go higher.

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    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    It takes longer to boil water at altitude. Once boiled and sealed in the container altitude would not be a factor as it would be technically "cooking" for hours.
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  9. #9
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Losligato View Post
    It takes longer to boil water at altitude.
    Actually, you have that backwards. Water boils more quickly at altitude, and it boils at a lower temperature. This means that water needs to be boiled for longer to kill bacteria, and foods that need to be cooked in boiling water often take longer to cook.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

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    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    by vacuum flask, do you mean thermos? If so, somewhere in the food links on bicycletouring 101.com is a boatload of thermos cooking recipes.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brotherdan View Post
    Actually, you have that backwards. Water boils more quickly at altitude, and it boils at a lower temperature. This means that water needs to be boiled for longer to kill bacteria, and foods that need to be cooked in boiling water often take longer to cook.
    I believe that this is correct. Since you are starting a a lower temp it seems that stuff would ultimately cook less using this method when at higher altitude. What isn't completely clear to me is how much difference it would make. My guess is, a good bit.

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    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowjoe66 View Post
    by vacuum flask, do you mean thermos? If so, somewhere in the food links on bicycletouring 101.com is a boatload of thermos cooking recipes.
    By a 'boatload' did you mean one?

    That's the only one I could find. If there are more please give us the links.

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    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Actually at high altitude, you might not be able to kill all the bacteria because of the low boiling temperature.

    The thermos cooking method is just simmering the food. Any food that you simmer would work this way. You really don't need a special recipe. You can also just cook the dish and put it in the thermos to keep warm. If you have a good thermos, it will keep hot all day.

    I have a small wide mouth thermos that I put all kinds of food in to keep hot. I have used it for beans, chili, stew, soups. I like the wide mouth ones because they are easier to put the food into the thermos and to take out. The disadvantage is that because of the greater connection area, they won't keep the food as hot as long, but not much of a difference.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Gonna ask this here since it seems most appropriate. I've heard about the technique of 'Vacuum flask cooking', where you take a steel lined vacuum flask and fill it with cooking-heat food (with a high liquid content) which has been heated to a boil long enough to kill any bacteria, seal it inside, and let the food simmer in the stored heat for the next several hours. Seems like a good idea for how to make a night's dinner earlier in the day with a solar cooker, for instance. Catch is that while i've heard it discussed, the only recipe i've actually -seen- for it was for steel cut oats. Has anyone else heard of this or know of anything similar?
    If you want to save some weight and space, you can use other containers.

    Sleeping bags make great insulation for this type of cooking. I've done it many times, and it works.

    [side note: another style of cooking, which can be used alongside other(s): just make use of hot water when it is available.]

    Other forms of insulation are also sometimes available.

    If you can do so, it can help [sometimes -- other times it isn't needed] to preheat the insulation. Just put a container full of hot water inside the insulation for a brief time, to heat it up, before putting the food in. That way, less heat is lost from the food [because it does not have to heat up the insulation], and there is more heat available for cooking, if it is needed.

    *******
    Lightweight microwaveable containers with leakproof, screwtop lids are among the container options.

    They are versatile, even if you don't make use of the microwaves with them.

    *******
    Oats are extremely useful for this type of cooking. Both quick oats and the larger rolled oats can be made to work.

    Both can be used in new ways.

    And for a wide variety of dishes.

    Oats, in some countries, are used almost exclusively for breakfast dishes, but they are great for all kinds of other things as well.

    Herb breads are easy and quick.

    Italian and Asian dishes are other options.

    Just use less water than oats -- about 3/4 cup water to one cup oats. Season the water first (instant soups, among other seasonings, work well).

    Use some kind of powdered seasoning as a topping (some instant soups work well for this; so does dried parmesano-romano).
    Last edited by Niles H.; 01-28-08 at 02:56 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member acupuncture Doc's Avatar
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    Remember your Boyle's law when calculating cooking time with altitude variations:
    The mathematical equation for Boyle's law is:

    pV = k

    where:

    p denotes the pressure of the system.
    V is the volume of the gas.
    k is a constant value representative of the pressure and volume of the system.

    For a fixed amount of gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional. Altitude here would determine your pressure. Therefore , >> Higher altitudes= lower boiling points = longer cooking times. I used to live in Vail CO and at 10,000 ft. you couldn't get the water hot enough to make a decent cup of tea.

    Although.......I think for the idea you are trying to get to which is apparently some passive form of cooking while you ride (?) is an extremely good one. I think the best bet is a very thermally efficient thermos of some type. Heat your food to the proper temperature, and then place in the thermos. Works just like a slow cooker but somewhat less efficient.

  16. #16
    Bike touring webrarian
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    This page from www.biketouringtips.com has 13 links to dealing with food on tour. Several of them provide lots of recipes, though none of them, to my knowledge, deal specifically with cooking in a vacuum bottle/thermos.

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

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    A pot cozy made of reflectix insulation (aluminized bubble wrap) that fits over your pot is the way to go imho. Because the food goes directly from stove to cozy, you don't lose heat from opening the container, transferring the liquid, and warming the thermos: for a small volume on a cold day, these losses are considerable. Also, a pot cozy weighs 30-40 grams (less than two ounces). Once the food is in the cozy, other layers can be wrapped around it, thermal unders, sleeping bag (careful!) etc. Kept out of the wind, you can cook rice, lentils, quinoa etc. just by boiling the water and letting it finish in the cozy.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jcbryan's Avatar
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    www.freezerbagcooking.com

    I think what the question is to look here:

    www.freezerbagcooking.com

    Somewhere I found this link and another about the "perfect" thermos on CGOAB.(Thanks to Neil!!!!) Freezerbaggin"

    Best, John
    Last edited by jcbryan; 01-30-08 at 01:53 PM.

  19. #19
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    "Losligato" I'm trying your recipee for Miso soup, your whole section on food looks worth some consideration, though I may need to substitute something like Caribou for the TVP. Hey, I will try TVP first.

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    TVP, in the granulated form that reconstitutes like ground beef (mince), is great stuff. If I could find a readily accessible source for it (country Australia is not renowned for "alternative" food options), I would probably use it almost entirely as a substitute for meat in my cooking.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by atman View Post
    Because the food goes directly from stove to cozy, you don't lose heat from opening the container, transferring the liquid, and warming the thermos: for a small volume on a cold day, these losses are considerable. Also, a pot cozy weighs 30-40 grams (less than two ounces).
    That reminds me (and if someone has mentioned it already, I've missed it in a quick glance back)... heat the inside of the vacuum flask first by pouring boiling water into it, letting it stand for a few minutes, emptying it, then putting in the food. It means a flask that goes six hours before the food get luke-warm, might keep food piping hot for 10 hours.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  22. #22
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I'm starting to think this might work for me. I often buy these;

    from Mountain Equipment Co-op. They feed two people and I've been trying to keep the leftovers in the pouch but is spoils without refrigeration and sometimes leaks into the pannier (yuk).

    I'm thinking that I should open the pouch, pour half into the Thermos along with half the water. I could then re-seal the remainder of the dry ingredients for use another time. I'm going to try that.

  23. #23
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    ...heat the inside of the vacuum flask first by pouring boiling water into it, letting it stand for a few minutes, emptying it, then putting in the food.
    I was just about to post this... pre-heating the thermos is good practice, not just with food but tea/coffee etc as well. Substitute with pre-cooling, if you're putting something cold in the thermos.

    Regarding wide mouth vs. bottle type thermos, wide mouth does lose heat more quickly as mentioned already. But it insulates well enough, and it's a lot easier to clean after you finish your meal.

    --J
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  24. #24
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    "Losligato" I'm trying your recipee for Miso soup, your whole section on food looks worth some consideration, though I may need to substitute something like Caribou for the TVP. Hey, I will try TVP first.
    Great! Miso has excellent anti-cancer properties. Dr. Shinichiro Akizuki was at work at his hospital less than a mile from the blast site in Nagasaki. He and his staff consumed miso soup daily and continued to show no evidence of cancer through the early 80's. They trucked miso into the region surrounding Chernobyl... Caribou, TVP, whatever... just eat that miso!
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