When I say "slow cooker," you're probably thinking of a crock pot or similar device that you plug in for all-day cooking. But the Wonderbag team wants you to think differently.
The surprise bag may look like a throw pillow, but it is actually a slow cooker – a non-electric slow cooker developed in South Africa by environmentalist Sarah Collins and now available exclusively to US consumers on Amazon. com.
After boiling your food in the traditional way, fill the dish into the highly insulated pouch. Hours later you have a slow cooked meal that is ready to serve. Wonderbag's blog lists recipes that range from meat and chicken dishes to stews, soups, and even desserts like cheesecakes.
The Wonderbag started in 2008 when Collins tried to cook during a series of power outages by surrounding a pot of pillows after the oven was turned off. When Sarah realized that this technique could change the lives of millions of families in developing countries, she designed a prototype heat storage bag for slow cooking. Initial tests showed that a dish would continue to cook in the bag after only a few minutes of heating and would remain hot for up to 12 hours.
Just over five years later, the surprise bag has spread worldwide, and Collins claims to have significant benefits for sustainable development. In countries where firewood is a major source of cooking fuel, deforestation can be reduced, according to Wonderbag. In addition, the company's field studies show that regular Wonderbag users in developing countries save up to 30 percent of their income by lowering their fuel costs while reducing accidents in the kitchen.
This global expansion includes industrialized countries like the United States, where Wonderbag is now available for $ 50 a bag. For every item purchased, a different one is donated to an impoverished family in Africa so that consumers can feel comfortable if they continue to extend the reach of the product to the people who benefit the most.
Apart from its humanitarian focus, the surprise bag also has a lot of comfort. Since you don't need any electricity, the Wonderbag is particularly suitable for hanging up, camping or slowly preparing a meal in the back seat during your four-hour drive home on vacation. If you throw in an ice pack, you can also use the Wonderbag as an emergency cooler.
The Wonderbag has space for pots with short handles from two to nine liters (Wonderbag says that metal and cast iron pots work best). You need to keep a potholder between the bottom of the pot and the bag. Wonderbag recommends a silicone potholder. It's also a good idea to keep a meat thermometer within reach, as you don't want your food to be below 140 degrees Celsius for more than two hours before you eat it or keep it in the refrigerator.
The surprise bag is currently available from Amazon in blue or red. We will try one here in our test kitchen in the coming weeks.