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Old 11-15-10, 04:52 PM   #1
Niles H.
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Fuel Efficient Ways of Cooking?

Stir-frying seems like one approach. Very hot woks can be used to cook vegetables quickly. The speed of cooking would help to save fuel. The absence of water to boil would also fuel. The speed of heating up the unit, before cooking begins, would save fuel.

Okay, woks are usually heavy and large, but maybe the same sort of thing could be done with light-weight frying pans.

Not this one, though: http://vimeo.com/10589745


***
So. Where were we? Why do Canadians say "aboot"?

***
Onward.

It does seem as if certain approaches to cooking might help to save quite a bit of fuel.

If anyone has any other ideas along these lines please feel free to post them.

Last edited by Niles H.; 11-16-10 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 11-15-10, 04:57 PM   #2
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depending on available fuel and foods.

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Old 11-15-10, 07:51 PM   #3
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Pressure cookers cook quickly even at low altitudes ..

there are small ones made for mountaineering,
because their advantage increases the higher you go.
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Old 11-15-10, 07:54 PM   #4
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my last tour I used a bunch of MRE's with their heaters. some buddies pitched in and gave me a bunch of their stuff.
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Old 11-15-10, 08:11 PM   #5
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While woks do cook fast, they also need to be very hot.

The most fuel efficient/cheapest way I can think of is covering a pot of water with a lid, placing it directly on a bed of coals and waiting for the water to boil. After that, transfer the water into a thermos with your dry ingredients and wait about 15 minutes.

This wont help you if you want to fry up some eggs or cook some meat but it is the most efficient way I know.
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Old 11-15-10, 09:11 PM   #6
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Jet Boil or the MSR Reactor are about the most efficient stove out there. Both are compact and light weight.

http://www.amazon.com/Jetboil-Group-...ef=pd_sbs_sg_6

http://www.amazon.com/MSR-11205-Reac...f=pd_sbs_sg_14
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Old 11-15-10, 09:13 PM   #7
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Jet Boil or the MSR Reactor are about the most efficient stove out there. Both are compact and light weight.

http://www.amazon.com/Jetboil-Group-...ef=pd_sbs_sg_6
???
not too sure about that...
I use a Packafeather stove... its super lightweight
"efficient"... thats probably a hard one to figure out...

Last edited by AsanaCycles; 11-15-10 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 11-16-10, 03:45 AM   #8
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???
not too sure about that...
I use a Packafeather stove... its super lightweight
"efficient"... thats probably a hard one to figure out...
I suppose there are lots of different metrics. Heat output per unit fuel cost? Heat output per unit fuel weight? Heat output per system weight (stove+pots+fuel)?
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Old 11-16-10, 04:11 AM   #9
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Wind protection is the most important factor in stove efficiency in my experience...
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Old 11-16-10, 07:40 AM   #10
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Not sure what the goal is. If your goal is to minimize fuel consumption, eat more foods that don't need cooking like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If the goal is to reduce weight, use butane type cartridges and lightweight stoves instead of heavier liquid fuel stoves that use a pump. If the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, build a fire with renewable fuel (wood) instead of burning fossil fuels in a stove. You can use one of the newer types of stoves that have a heat exchanger built into the pot that also functions as a wind screen (example: Jet Boil) to reduce fuel use. Or, cook meals that require less cleanup saving hot cleanup water.

Quite frankly when I am on a camping trip my goal is to have a good time instead of trying to save a few ounces of fuel. And if I suddenly decide to have a bit of hot chocolate or hot cider in the evening, I fire up the liquid fuel stove to heat some water without thinking of fuel use. I am not exactly sure how much fuel I used for two for a 9 day canoe trip last month, I think it was roughly 0.8 liter of white gas (Coleman fuel). Two meals were barbeque.
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Old 11-16-10, 08:38 AM   #11
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Quite frankly when I am on a camping trip my goal is to have a good time instead of trying to save a few ounces of fuel. And if I suddenly decide to have a bit of hot chocolate or hot cider in the evening, I fire up the liquid fuel stove to heat some water without thinking of fuel use. I am not exactly sure how much fuel I used for two for a 9 day canoe trip last month, I think it was roughly 0.8 liter of white gas (Coleman fuel). Two meals were barbeque.
I'm with you. Last year, two of toured for 8 days. We cooked four pretty eleborate dinners and then heated water to do dishes, boiled water for coffee seven mornings, and used fuel to start four campfires. We started with a full, 22 oz. fuel bottle and had a decent amount of Super Fuel (f/k/a/ White Gas) left over.
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Old 11-16-10, 09:39 AM   #12
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Quite frankly when I am on a camping trip my goal is to have a good time instead of trying to save a few ounces of fuel. And if I suddenly decide to have a bit of hot chocolate or hot cider in the evening, I fire up the liquid fuel stove to heat some water without thinking of fuel use. I am not exactly sure how much fuel I used for two for a 9 day canoe trip last month, I think it was roughly 0.8 liter of white gas (Coleman fuel). Two meals were barbeque.
Fair enough. But when I'm on an extended backcountry trip, I want to be sure that I will have enough fuel to last the trip. If I'm cycle touring in an area where fuel for my stove is hard to find or expensive, I like to know that I can keep going until I can get more fuel. In either case, I prefer not to haul more weight or use up more pack/pannier space than necessary. In either case, minimizing the consumption of whatever fuel I'm using helps. At high altitudes where it gets cold at night, or in places where the only water source is fed by melting snow, fuel consumption can go up pretty quickly and learning to cook efficiently can make life a lot more pleasant. If nothing else, cooking your food faster lets you eat your dinner that much sooner.
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Old 11-16-10, 11:13 AM   #13
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The object of cooking food is to raise the temperature of said food for a sufficient length of time to cause the intercellular changes we call "cooked." So that's pretty simple. The only real variable is how much heat is wasted. Heat is wasted when it is radiated instead of going into the food. Therefore a wok is absolutely the most wasteful cooking method. Next time you eat Chinese, have a look at the wok fires in the kitchen. Blowtorches 6" across. The hotter something gets, the more it radiates. The more of that hot thing there is, the more it radiates. Anything uncovered radiates more. The more that food is exposed to the atmosphere, the more heat is lost from radiation and convection.

The most efficient way to cook is to use an aluminum pot (for heat transfer) and heat or cook stuff in water, covered, using as little water as is consistent with edibility, and as small a flame as does the job. Too small a flame and cooking doesn't occur, too large a flame and the heat goes up the sides of the pot, so one has to get some experience as to what the correct flame level is. We never run our gas stove wide open. Another thing that helps greatly is double boilers - two pots that fit tightly over one another. Then one can be cooking pasta while one heats tea or wash water in the upper pot. We never fry anything, except we'll sort of fry freeze-dried hash browns a little, and we'll fry eggs sometimes. The less you fry, the easier the cleanup.

The two of us camp and tour on a little more than a quart of fuel for 10 days - a quart and a 1/3 pt. in the stove, and a little left over. We cook two rather elaborate meals/day and wash dishes in hot water. We've been doing it for over 30 years, so we know exactly how much fuel is required for how much cooking. So bring a little more fuel than you think the first few times until you get the quantity worked out.

Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 11-16-10 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 11-16-10, 11:55 AM   #14
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Judging fuel use on my Triangia is tricky, it depends a lot how concentrated the alcohol is.
I do know that pasta requires more water and fuel than rice and that couscous takes less than either.
Washing up an oily pesto pan takes more hot water than a rice or couscous dish.
Generally, fuel is so cheap (and renewable) that I dont bother to ration it.
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Old 11-16-10, 12:30 PM   #15
Niles H.
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Thanks for all the ideas here.

One aspect is what might be called "cooking modality" (for want of a better term, in this context -- "method" is more ambiguous) -- steaming vs boiling vs deep frying vs pan frying vs dry sautéing vs grilling vs stewing vs baking vs fill-in-the-blanking.

Although it does take more energy to heat a (light-weight) sautéing or frying pan to a higher temperature, compared with lower temperatures, sometimes the stove is hot enough anyway, and the reduction of the time factor may more than make up for the higher-heat-per-unit-time factor.

Wild mushrooms often taste best when "dry sautéed" -- and this process is very similar to what is described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sautéing

As pointed out in that article, chopping the food into smaller pieces helps with the efficiency.

The article also mentions that some oils are more appropriate than others for this. Which other oils would be best for high heat levels?

This is a type of cooking I want to learn more about. It can be *very* fast, and I like the way food turns out when it's done properly this way.

Last edited by Niles H.; 11-16-10 at 12:50 PM.
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