The best way we describe it to someone who has never seen one before is...a cordless, portable, non electric, version of a crockpot. All the things you love about slow cooking, without the things that you don't. If you could slow cook your dinner all day without burning it, or keeping it plugged in, and even take it with you when you need to go. You have discovered what a thermal cooker is.
You will conserve energy and fuel, and in an emergency that may become essential. In a non emergency it saves you money on your electric bill. You can get your meal started in the morning, just bringing your meal's ingredients to a hard boil for a few minutes, turn off your fuel source, and it will continue to slow cook and then stay hot and ready to serve for hours... AND it is portable! We have been teaching people how to use it as a mobile kitchen. Which means, you can use it for road trips, or other all day events, or in remote locations. Also being portable, allows you to avoid the fast food restaurant options, by having a hot home cooked healthy meal option at the end of a long day, already ready to go. Portable means it goes where you go... whether that is trucking across the country, in the outback, at the beach, or at an all day sporting event with your kids. This makes it easier for those who want to change their diet who are on the go a lot. Saving not only money, but possibly even your health.
Here at Saratoga Jacks we encourage emergency preparedness, and have taught alternate forms of cooking for years. We have a solar oven, and also dutch ovens we use too, but sometimes the weather does not cooperate. On the days the weather is stormy, or freezing, and we can't cook outside, we use our thermal cookers inside. If we have lost power, we use our butane stove inside, and the thermal cookers allow us to conserve our fuel (we do sell butane by the case)and use the least amount possible, so we get more hot meals on other days.
Basically, to get started you remove the two inner cooking pots, and using whatever method of cooking you have, bring the contents of your meal to a hard boil for a few minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't burn on the bottom. FOR the full list of thermal cookingrules and a printable PDF instructions click on the links. There are a couple rules you should follow to ensure the quality of your thermal cooking experience. ONE: always make sure all ingredients are completely thawed, meats that are frozen in the center, can change the temperature of your slow cook in your thermal cooker. TWO: To get a full eight hours of thermal cooking/heating you must fill the inner cooking pots to MORE then 3/4 full. If you use both inner pots together, make sure they are both as full as possible. There will be a small airspace between them when you double stack them together inside the outer unit. If you are using just the large pot alone, for example, while cooking a large pot roast meal, make sure it is a full as possible. AIR is an enemy to heat, the more airspace inside the cooker, the faster you loose your thermal heat. The fuller it is, the longer it retains its heat. So use the APPROPRIATE size pot for your meal. The 5.5 Liter unit will feed between 3-5 people at full capacity. The 7 Liter will feed between 6-10 people. However there are a few tricks you can do to cook for a smaller crowd with the larger cooker. Example Boil Water in the Bigger Pot and cooking your meal in the smaller upper pot, if you are just cooking for one or two, and then you will still get a long slow cook, without the air problem, and be rewarded with hot water in the evening, imagine Hot chocolate before bed, or water to wash your face, or hot water to clean up with.
How the day started:
Christmas Break 2011.... Salmon Chowder....We were on the road, so we threw into a pot of boiling water two packs of Bear Creek Creamy Potato Soup Mixed with two packs of Salmon, dehydrated celery, corn, some chopped up carrots and potatoes and green onions too. Added a pinch of curry, a pinch of dill weed, and some cracked pepper on top. 2 minutes of boiling, while stirring.Then threw it into the thermal unit, and put away the stove. Put the slow cooking dinner into the back of the truck, (had some french bread I needed to use up too) while we played all day on the beach....and had dinner at sunset...
This was how the day ended:
To get started, we recommend doing something easy, and familiar. ANY Soup or Stew or Chili, made in the larger inner pot is perfect for the Thermal Cooker. It is easy to bring to bring all thawed ingredients to a boil, and quickly transfer to your thermal unit. Where it will slow cook for several hours, as you go about your day. After that try any recipe you would do in acrock pot or slow cooker, only slightly modified*. Rice and other Grains is easy once you adjust the amount of water you use. And even Deserts and Breads are possible. You can also use your thermal cooker to keep cold items cold, because it is so well insulated. Here is just a few sample menu items that we actually tried while on a road trip, using our thermal cooker alone, and not eating out once.
*For example, while doing sweet and sour chicken you would slightly water down the sauce...making sure the chicken is covered in liquid and able to boil. After the chicken and sauce is at a hard boil, add a thickening agent, like a corn starch rue, stirring it in, and allow to boil for a couple more minutes, so that after you remove it and place it in the thermal unit to continue to slow cook all day, it will thicken up as it slow cooks. If you are going to do sweet and sour chicken with rice, make sure you start the rice in the second inner pot, while you are doing the chicken in the larger pot....so you can stack the boiling rice side dish on top of the boiling chicken dish, timing their removal from the heat, and placement into the thermal unit, at the same time, so you can shut the lid and allow both to continue to slow cook simultaneously. This will get easier with practice. There are even ways of baking cake and bread in the thermal cooker, but they take a little more practice to perfect. See our Recipe Section to get started.
How does it Work?
The thermal cooker traps the thermal energy off a hard boil. You use your fuel source to bring the meal (fully thawed) to a hard boil in your inner stainless steel cooking pots. Follow the basic five rules for success. Depending on altitude, most boils start at 212 degrees, slightly lower in higher altitudes. A hard boil can go as high as 216 degrees. Once you get your meal to a hard boil, and stir it for a 2-4 minutes (depending on the recipe), to ensure even heat through out, then remove the cooking pots from the heat source, place them in the outer thermal unit, shut the lid, and trap the heat. Then turn off your heat source to conserve energy for another day. A FULL thermal cooker looses heat very slowly. Around 5 degrees an hour on average. If you place it in the unit at 212 degrees, you can have several hours of a slow cook. A slow cook is anything above 170 degrees. Several hours later when it drops below 170 degrees, it will be perfect serving temperature. Restaurants serve meals between 150-170 degrees. Those are considered acceptable safe serving temperatures. We recommend EIGHT hours in the thermal unit as a MAX time with a full thermal cooker. See Getting Started for thermal cooking instructions. Please remember when your cooked food temperatures drops towards 145 degrees F, we recommend reheating or refrigerating your left overs, just as the restaurants and all responsible cooks always do before the temperatures drop into the danger zone where bacteria can start to grow, which is below 140. Here is a link to somebasic food safety guidelines .
Yes. We do give discounts to church groups, emergency preparedness groups, and large orders. There are minimum orders to do this, and if you are out of the area, shipping needs to be considered. Please call or email Jack for more information.