The Wonderbag is the best non-electric slow cooker out there. It's perfect for saving on the electric bill, camping trips, or living completely off-grid!
The idea of a non-electric slow cooker might seem strange, but really, this practice has been going on for a long time.
During World War II when energy sources were scarce Haybox cooking was a common practice. People would line boxes with straw and place their boiling pot inside the box, seal it up and come back a few hours later to retrieve dinner!
Even before that, digging a hole to place a pot of heated food inside was not out of the ordinary.
Today, most of us have the luxury of electricity that we can count on, so it's not as much of an issue in general... though, many people around the world don't have this benefit.
But even with plenty of electricity at our fingertips, there are many reasons to use the Wonderbag such as saving money on utilities, controlling the heat in your house (summer cooking!), and even living off-grid!
About the Wonderbag
Much better than a haybox or a hole in the ground, the Wonderbag is a portable retained heat cooking system that can be used anywhere!
Being able to use it anywhere was the main reason behind the creation of this non-electric crockpot bag; being able to use it anywhere in the world. You see, the Wonderbag creator grew up in rural Africa and she saw first hand the struggles of the women living below the poverty line and working hard to feed their family.
She saw the Wonderbag as a way to help them but reducing their need for fuel, and the time required for them to cook meals. Less time in the kitchen means more time pursuing activities and opportunities outside the family home. Like education, for example!
Here's a quote from their site:
In over one million homes around the world, people bring their food to a boil in a pot for about twenty minutes, then place the pot into a Wonderbag to finish cooking. Once the pot is nestled inside the Wonderbag, it continues to cook for up to 12 hours. This cooking method also reduces water evaporation and retains traditional flavors and nutrient content. Wonderbag cooking saves between 30-80% of fuel -whether electricity, kerosene, charcoal, or firewood- and 60% of water typically used per meal. This improves home air quality and water availability, and reduces fire exposure especially for women and children who spend the most time at the hearth."
If that one doesn't get you, this quote on the Wonderbag ability to change lives certainly will. I was in tears reading this and had to stop and just give thanks for everything I have.
"Sarah brought her first bag to a grandmother she knew who cared for nine orphans. The woman earned a meager living selling food that she cooked all day over a wood fire, but still struggled to meet her family's basic needs. The tarpaulin where they lived was always full of smoke. The kids weren't in school, because they had to spend their days gathering firewood. "I said to her, 'I'll live with you while we see whether this works.' But she got the idea right away," says Sarah. "Their lives were completely changed. Within three months, the children only needed to gather firewood once a week, and they were all in school. They had money for shoes. It was a catalyst out of poverty for them."
Full Review of the Wonderbag Non-Electric Slow Cooker
Now that you know the global impact of this product, what about the impact for you and your life? After having this Wonderbag for just a week (and falling completely in love with it!), let me break down the pros and cons for you.
Pros of the Wonderbag
1. It's gorgeous! This may seem a little shallow on my part, but one pro for me is the fact that the Wonderbag is just so darn nice to look at! There are many different fabrics and colors to choose from so you can match your decor.
2. It saves money on electricity (or gas) to run your stove/oven. AND saves on the electricity to cool the house as the oven heats everything up!
3. It's safer. I'm not saying that crockpot cooking is inheriently dangerous, but the Wonderbag is safer in that is can't short out or overheat!
4. No burned food. With a traditional crockpot or slow cooker, the heat is retained artificially. But with a Wonderbag the heat gradually lowers over the course of the cooking time. Which means no burned food!
5. It saves time. Not being required to stand at the stove top while the "pot is on" to keep it from scorching the bottom means you get to go do something else while your food is cooked to perfection!
6. It can be used anywhere. Whether "anywhere" for you is rural Africa or your off-grid house, or even a family camping trip - or anywhere in between - as long as you have a place to bring your food to a boil before "bagging it" the Wonderbag is perfect for you!
Cons of the Wonderbag
For me personally, there were no downsides to using the Wonderbag. But I can see a few points that others might not like, so I'll mention them here.
1. Short handles only. If you are used to cooking in pots with long handles, you'll need to get some with short handles as the Wonderbag doesn't accomedate long handles.
This wasn't a problem for us, and I don't think would a problem for many people... but there you go.
2. Storage. Again, even in our tiny house this wasn't enough of a downside to be considered a con. The Wonderbag is currently living on the top of the piano, but it's so pretty that I don't mind at all!
Recipes to Try With the Wonderbag
From my several Wonderbag attempts this week I found that crockpot recipes worked perfectly without any time adjustments so long as the food was brought to a boil for at least 15 minutes before adding it to the Wonderbag.
This means that crockpot freezer meals need to be adjusted. You're not just going to put a frozen roast in the Wonderbag and have it magically be cooked when you come home from work!
I did try cooking a roast in the Wonderbag and it didn't work. It was probably user error, but it just didn't work. I browned the meat in butter, then added all the liquid for the stew. Brought it to a boil for 20 minutes then added it to the Wonderbag. 4 hours later I checked it, and though it was HOT it wasn't cooked much more than it was before.
I removed the roast, cubed it, and this Irish Roast Beef and Cabbage Soup was born!
I also made my normal yogurt recipe, but instead of finishing it in the dehydrator I used the Wonderbag to perfect results!