Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cooking with gas. Posted 14 January 2011

There is a lot to be said for cooking with gas. I mostly use a simple bottle top gas cooker. It is a very portable tool. It has one disadvantage. You can not get a very low heat from it. Even on its lowest setting it is still to hot for some things. It is too hot to simmer something properly, for example.
I have found a way to get around this problem. Consider if you will a curry that contains meat and dried peaches. I brown the meat, then the onions and the curry powder. Into the saucepan it goes with the contents of the tins. The tomatoes and the green beans. Then it is time to bring it to the boil and add some water and the dried peaches. An ordinary recipe would say "bring it to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes".
What I do is "under-simmer" it for an hour. Under-simmer ?
When the mixture comes to the boil, turn the gas off. Wait 5 minutes then put the saucepan down on the ground, lift the lid and give it a stir. Replace the lid. Light the gas. Adjust the flame to the lowest setting and put the saucepan back on to the heat.
It only takes 10 seconds for the food to begin to bubble again. Give it 15 seconds then turn the gas off again. Wait for 5 minutes and repeat the process. The food cooks as quickly as it would if it was simmering, and it is unlikely to stick to the saucepan.
Lets talk fuel consumption now. Using the simmering method the gas runs at its lowest setting for 30 minutes. Using my under-simmering method the gas runs for 3 minutes at its lowest setting. This is a saving of a whole order of magnitude, and I get an hour of cooking rather than 30 minutes. It makes for a very yummy curry.
O.K. it is a bit of a humbug. Getting up and down. Turning the gas off and then lighting it again. And most tiresome of all, keeping an eye on the time. It is a practical proposition for all that.
And it makes a real difference to the Carbon footprint of the meal.
You can double the cooking time and only use a tenth of the gas.

Nobody told me about this. I stumbled upon it. You have my permission to call it Strider's under-simmering method , if you like. For what it is worth this is my contribution to combating climate change in 2011.


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