A Thermos, that is. You really do need at least one and preferably a big one. There are so many things you can do with a Thermos including cooking in it. Thermos is a brand name of a product known as a “Vacuum Bottle”. I like my Thermos, though I believe now Thermos is part of Nissan.
Three or 4 summers ago I bought a big Thermos at a yard sale for $2. It holds 8 cups of liquid, so it really is big. Once its filled its not hard to carry because it has a folding handle and a strap.
The one I bought looks kind of like this:
Although, this one is a newer one. Mine is not as sleek looking. Plus this one costs about $40. I suggest you do like I did and look for one at yard sales. Be sure you get a really good one to cook in. Thermos and Stanley brands seem to be the best for cooking and holding water at the highest temperature for the longest time.
So, why do I think you need at least one? Well, here are the things I do with my Thermos and I tell ya, it is really handy.
1. Saving hot water, of course.
Bring some water to a rolling boil, put it in the Thermos and cap it tightly. The water will stay HOT and I meaning steaming hot for about 4 days. Yes. This is really nice when the power goes out and you need hot water for coffee, hot cocoa, baby formula, etc. I put boiling water in mine this past Sunday evening because we were getting sleet and ice and, living in an older neighborhood, I expected the power to go out. It didn’t go out, thankfully. I opened the Thermos just today, Wednesday afternoon, and it was steaming hot.
Seriously, you can cook in a Thermos. If you put boiling water and food like pasta or rice in your Thermos, it will cook and will take 10 minutes to 6 hours depending on your thermos, the temp of the water you added and what you’re cooking. The time is also dependent on how well your Thermos seals when you cap it. This method of cooking is great for when the power goes out, camping, backpacking, on a boat, traveling, etc. Just use it however you need to.
*Always pre-heat your Thermos with boiling water for 3 minutes before adding your food. You should pour out the pre-heating water and save it to use in your recipe.
*When you are cooking rice or pasta alone or in a recipe, you should give the filled and capped Thermos a shake to distribute the water through the grains/pasta and then lay it on its side so that all the grains/pasta have room to expand and the water can reach all the food.
*I don’t personally put uncooked meat with other ingredients in a Thermos to cook. I usually cook the meat separately because there is too much room for error and under-cooked meat.
Foods that can be cooked in a Thermos include:
Small grains like quinoa, oats, wheat berries, rice
Soups and Stews
Chicken and Beef that you will then use in another recipe
Reconstituting freeze dried or dehydrated foods
Most recipes that you would cook in a slow cooker, though you need to reduce the servings.
Thermos cooking is not instant. It takes up to 6 hours for some foods to cook in a Thermos and if you are cooking meat, potatoes, rice, then you must pre-cook the ingredients a few minutes (about 5) before adding them to the Thermos.
Here are some easy recipes that I have tried.
Thermos Chicken and Rice for a 64 ounce Thermos
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 cup rice
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, diced small
Pre-heat the Thermos, pour out heating water and reserve.
Bring 2 cups of the heating water back to a boil. You can pre-cook the carrots a bit to soften them if you like. Add the water and all the other ingredients to the Thermos, Cap tightly. Allow to sit for 1-1/2 hours. Don’t open the Thermos until the time is up. When the time is up, open it up and serve right from the Thermos or pour the Chicken and Rice into a bowl to serve. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
How To Cook Rice in a Thermos
2 cups rice
4 cups boiling water
Pre-Heat your Thermos for 3 minutes using boiling water. Reserve the water and re-boil it, once it is boiling, add the rice. Let it cook for about 5 minutes. Next, pour the rice and cooking water into the preheated Thermos, add a pinch of salt, cap tightly, give it a shake and lay it on its side, and let sit for 1 – 1/2 hours. Brown rice takes 4-5 hours.
Why would you do this when regular rice takes only about 25 minutes to cook? There are several reasons.
1. It takes less energy to cook in the Thermos, even though it takes longer. When your electricity is out and you are trying to boil water over a camp stove or fire, this method will save fuel.
2. When you are camping or backpacking it also saves fuel. You can light a backpacking stove, they normally will get water boiling in about 7 minutes. The rest of the cooking time is in the Thermos, so you don’t have to spend your fuel.
3. It frees you up to do other things. When you are cooking rice over a fire or camp stove or even a propane stove, you have to stick around. When you fill up the Thermos, you can lay it down and leave it.
How To Cook Pasta in a Thermos
Pre-heat your Thermos.
Bring water to a boil on the stove. Use enough water to fill the Thermos to the top.
Once the water is boiling, empty your Thermos, add the boiling water and add the pasta. Add a pinch of salt. The amount of pasta depends on what kind of pasta it is and that will take some experimenting on your part. I use about 2 cups of elbows to 4 cups boiling water.
Cap the Thermos tightly, give it a shake, lay it on its side, and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.
4. Storing Cold Foods or Medicines
In a pinch, you can store medicines that need to be refrigerated in a Thermos. I use small pieces of Blue Ice that have been frozen and that won’t make the inside of the Thermos super wet as they defrost. Also, wrap your medicine in plastic bubble wrap or other wrap to keep it dry when the Blue Ice condenses. The temperature in the Thermos with the Blue Ice stays very cold, but you’d need to check the temp before using it if you are storing meds like insulin.
Foods that need to be stored in cold can be stored in the Thermos as well. I’ve stored yogurt, milk, cold drinks and applesauce. I always pre-chill the thermos in the freezer for an hour or so.
There ya go! I will post more recipes using the Thermos as I figure them out. I didn’t want to use other people’s recipes that I haven’t tried in this post, only things I have actually done and been successful with. If you have questions or comments please share.