Heat Retention Cooking
Here are our tips and tricks for cooking the Wonderbag Way. Since the Wonderbag uses heat retention to cook, it slows the time a boiling pot cools to room temperature, allowing the food to continue to slow cook.
Use the right size pot for the amount of food you wish to cook. Use a pot with short handles. Use only copper, steel, aluminum, enameled cast iron, cast iron and glassware pots. If you use cast iron, clay or ceramic, you must put a trivet under the pot (inside the bag) to avoid damaging the fabric from the heat of the bag.
Bring to the Boil
Food must be brought to a gentle boil before placing in the Wonderbag. Use a tight fitting lid to allow ingredients to be heated through. Do not place lukewarm food in the Wonderbag. Times will vary for length of boil based on recipe, type of food and altitude. Place the boiling pot immediately from the stove into the Wonderbag.
Heat is retained more effectively when:
- The pot is full and sealed with a tight fitting lid
- The food is more dense (like stews and curries)7
- The environment the bag sits in is warmer (for example, if the Wonderbag is sitting in a snow drift, it will cool faster)
- The lid for your pot is metal; however, glass does work as well
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that food should not be held at temperatures between 135°F and 41°F for more than 2 hours. When in doubt, use a thermometer to measure heat to ensure your dish is above 135° F for food safety reasons.
Place a trivet (we recommend silicon) in the base of the Wonderbag, and put the pot itself on the trivet, inside the bag.
Only one cooking container per Wonderbag should be used.
Pots transferred directly from the stove or oven to the Wonderbag should not be hotter than 350°F.
When carrying or handling the Wonderbag, care must be taken to avoid spills and risk of burning or personal injury.
Below is an overview of some adjustments we recommend making to your standard cooking practice as well as some general guidance for cooking the Wonderbag way.
- You can cook practically anything – stews, curries, chicken and even yogurt – in a Wonderbag.
- There is no evaporation when cooking so use less liquid than usual.
- Liquid does not thicken in the Wonderbag. In order to thicken your dish, dissolve a bit of flour or cornstarch in a little cold water and then stir into the pot.
- If you are using wine in your recipe, cook off the alcohol (takes about 5 minutes) before placing in the Wonderbag.
- Salt meat a day in advance of cooking to get the meat tender and moist.
- Salt and acidic foods (like tomatoes) will keep beans from softening. Therefore when using a tomato-based sauce, pre-cook your beans in the Wonderbag or use canned beans. Do not put salt into your pre-soaked dried beans until after they have completed cooking.
- You cannot overcook or burn foods in the Wonderbag because it is not on a direct heat source.
- The longer foods stay in the bag, the more tender they become.
- You’ll need to brown meat or caramelize onions before they are added to the Wonderbag, as they need to be done at very high temperatures in order to retain their flavors.
- Only open your Wonderbag when you are ready to serve to avoid losing any heat.
- Once you start using the Wonderbag, you will quickly get a feel for it. Most recipes stay well above 135° F for at least 4 or 5 hours, some up to 8 hours.
The Wonderbag can be spot-washed and hung to dry. Newer washing machines with a gentle wash cycle can also be used with cold water and minimal detergent: hang dry or low temperature setting on dryer.