I’m obsessed with my thermal cooker at the moment. If you don’t know what I’m talking about think slow cooker without a power source, (although there is one that has a 12v charger if you want to reheat.) I’ve decided I have to have one even though I love my pressure cooker! I’ve never once considered giving up my PC in the past for a thermal cooker or a slow cooker for a few reasons:
- * My PC is stove top so can work away from the dock, a slow cooker needs to be plugged in for 8 hours and I don’t want anything running if I’m not home – fire paranoia.
- * Once we leave the dock it just becomes a great big doorstop that I have to store in the bilge.
- * The pressure cooker can do in 1 hour what takes a slow cooker 8 hours. I needed a really good incentive to become that organised.
- * They’re big and bulky and don’t serve a double purpose like my PC which is also a great big SS pot that is easy to clean and fits in quite a few mud crabs when the need arises.
So why a thermal cooker then if I’m so happy with my PC of +20 years? We love eating curries, stews, silverside, lamb shanks, soups etc so the PC sure does get a workout on this boat as a result. However I have to be there for the hour it takes to cook. It also can stick to the bottom, although granted the stainless steel pot cleans up a breeze… I’ve decided that prep with a thermal cooker is going to be very similar to prep with the pressure cooker anyway, but once I pop it in the thermal cooker my work is done and cooking time is minimal. Seriously, bring rice to a boil for one minute and then pop it in the cooker for 30 mins at least – done. One minute vs’ 15 minutes of gas running on the stove. It won’t heat up the boat and steam up the windows, it’s not taking up an element on my three burner gas stove PLUS the pots are heavy based 18/8 stainless steel so will be able to serve double duty as well, just like my PC, which I plan on hanging on to regardless. Did I mention when it comes out of the cooker up to 8 hours later, it’s piping hot ready too? Seriously! There is more information about food safety and temperature guidelines here. This means I can also get rid of a couple of non stick pots which have seen better days since the thermal cooker pots are such good quality.
Another side to a thermal cooker is that it doesn’t know if your food is hot or cold. So you can also use it as a cooler as well. Thinking snacks on the beach, beer bucket, shopping trips etc, you get the picture. Put ice in one pot and what needs to stay cold in the other. Easy! Multi-use! Big tick for yachties!
It’s also great for caravanners; campers; day trips to the beach, park or special events like the Speedway lol; keeps food warm during a BBQ; great for taking to pot luck dinners; but mostly it’s just great for saving power. So if you’re spending up on power or gas at home even, this might be the solution for you.
The problem for me once I’d made the decision that I had to have one (despite trying to downsize and buy less stuff,) was that there are just so many to choose from! I’d managed to narrow it down to just three thermal cookers: The EcoPot, The Dreampot and the Thermos brand Shuttle Chef or Thermal Cookware. There are loads of other different makes on the market and available to us here in Oz however but these were the three I was most interested in. The main differences being that two of them use insulation and one uses vacuum technology.
Here’s my notes in no particular order:
- Dreampot website link will open in a new window
- 6L with two inner pots AUD$279
- Comes in loads of colours so you can colour match if you’re into that
- 1 or 2 stainless steel 18/8 inner pots with heavy sandwich bases, SS lids with food grade knobs
- Inner pots can be used on any cooking surface including campfire and induction
- Outer pot has polyurethane insulation
- 3, 5 or 6L capacity
- LOADS of accessories even an egg poacher. Unfortunately you can’t see how this works unless you purchase it
- Ecopot website link will open in a new window
- The Ecopot Powerlite AUD$375 or the Ecopot 24/7 with power option AUD$395
- Optional additional induction cooker available
- 7 & 3L inner pot capacity only
- Thermoplastic insulation
- Triply stainless steel construction inner cooking pots
- Inner pots suitable for induction
- Snap-loc outer lid
- Optional 12v and 240v function allowing you to reheat
- Couple of accessories including glass lid and cake tin
- Thermal Cookware website link will open in a new window
- 6L with two x 3L inner pots AUD$399
- TherMax vacuum insulation
- 3.5L, 6L, 6L with 2 x 3L inner pots or optional Bain Marie, 4.5L with optional Bain Marie, 8L
- 18/8 stainless steel pots with carbon steel plate sandwiched in SS, SS lids with food grade knobs
- Suitable for induction cook top use
- Handle of the outer pot closes the pot
- Plenty of accessories available including different sized pots, pudding and loaf tins and trivet
Ecopot claim that their Thermoplastic construction is superior to vacuum technology because if the outer pot is ever pierced, it will continue to work, whereas the vacuum pot will be rendered useless. I’ll be sure to keep my thermal cooker hidden away during gun fire then. You should have seen what they did to one of their outer pots to prove this point at the camping show! Hopefully, we’re never in seas that rough but if we are, whether or not my thermal cooker survives the ride without getting massive holes in it will be the least of my worries. I can see if you are throwing it in the back of your 4WD with a bunch of tools this MIGHT be an issue, but really, keep it in it’s protective bag and you should be fine.
After much deliberation, seeing all the demonstrations, tasting the food and asking my fellow sailor ladies online for their stellar advice I decided to purchase the Thermal Cookware Shuttle Chef with the 2 x 3L inner pots whilst reserving the right to still purchase an additional 6L pot if I find them too small to fit standard lamb shanks in at a later date, (so far they’re ample.) I also got some accessories including the bag (which further insulates, stores the Thermal Cooker safely, has a comfortable strap and an additional zippered section at the top for storage,) the plastic cutting board (which adds support when kept in the bottom of the bag where it fits perfectly, and will be great for cutting up cheese and crackers when having drinky poos on the beach at 5pm), the pudding tin with latching lid (perfect for cakes, breads, scones, lasagne and puddings plus it’s just the cutest thing) and the cookbook for initial inspiration. As I said I’m still thinking about the 6L pot and possibly the loaf tin for breads and meatloaf etc, although you can actually ‘bake’ bread in the pudding tin anyway, but The Skipper wants it because he thinks it’s a nicer size.
I managed to pick mine up at the Penrith camping show last week and got a great deal. Lindi, the distributor for Thermal Cookware in Australia who also features in all the YouTube videos about their product AND who wrote the thermal cooker cookbook was the most convincing of all the three retailers at the show and won my purchasing dollar with her honesty and what basically is a brilliant product. If you end up buying one make sure you tell her I sent you!
Thermal cookware was the perfect choice for us, however it still might not be the best choice for you so do your own research as well. Aldi also sell one for $99 if you’re not too fussy and want to save some $$ but only in March, that might be a better fit for you. I thought I’d go for this one because there is someone I can talk to if I have a problem, you don’t get that with the Aldi one, plus, no accessories.
So far I’ve made a casserole and banana cake at the same time in the thermal cooker with no flavour transfer between them, then the next day The Skipper did the corned beef in one pot and boiled potatoes in the other. This was stand-out-to-die-for and far better than any other silverside I’ve EVER cooked in my pressure cooker. I think this is down to the fact that you simply can’t overlook your food in one of these babies. The potatoes were in for the same amount of time and were melt in your mouth but did not break down. Amazing! I’ve also made the Steam Pot Chicken and the chicken breast was sooooo tender! Rice is easy too and was done in the other pot. Basically all our dinner was made at 10 o’clock this morning and I only had to serve it up. I checked temperatures and they were all safe. Tonight I’m experimenting with the porridge and Damper which I will leave overnight to cook, ready for breakfast in the morning. Keep an eye out on my Homeschool Ahoy Facebook page to see how that turned out.
Add all this yummy food, ease of use and quality product to the minimal time spent in the kitchen and I can see myself using the pressure cooker a little less, and saving on gas as well. Money well spent if you ask me!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I’m not being paid for my opinions.
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