Energy-wise cooking

IN most kitchens there are an amazing number of appliances to choose from, some of which are not energy efficient. However, many of the so-called kitchen friendly products can be discarded and savings made by the careful selection of what we use.

SAVE ENERGY: There are a number of ways to cook that rely on very little energy. Picture: Supplied.

SAVE ENERGY: There are a number of ways to cook that rely on very little energy. Picture: Supplied.

The principal cooking units in today's kitchen are gas or electric ranges, separate cook-tops and ovens and microwave ovens. Gas and electric stoves can be made more efficient by modifying cooking habits and microwave ovens, without doubt, provide one of the best energy savers in which to prepare meals.

There are a number of other alternatives that rely on very little energy at all and will still produce that old-fashioned cooking that grandma was famous for.  

Steam cooking is fast, simple, economical and energy efficient because only a small amount of liquid is needed. Food is cooked in a closed pot above the water, losing little flavour and nutrition and is tenderised and easy to digest.

Once liquid is brought to the boil you can turn down the heat to a simmer with enough steam being given off to cook the food. And if you use stacked steamer containers in the one pot, you can cook a complete meal using only one hotplate on your stove.

To use a steamer, make sure that the water underneath it is boiling before adding the food to be cooked. Add the food, cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer.

This simple method not only saves energy but will cook food to perfection. Vegetables, fish, chicken pieces, puddings, and top-of-the-stove breads are delicious cooked this way, since dough becomes light and fluffy.

Cooking in a wide-mouthed vacuum flask or Thermos is also a great energy saver. It will keep food hot for hours, can be used to soak dried grains, vegetables and legumes and can even be used to cook a hot breakfast overnight.

You can buy a larger version of the vacuum flask, which is called a thermal cooker. It is available from camping goods stores or online and can be used to cook almost any meal.