an insulated box used for slow cooking without electricity, wood or
gas. See our recipes for the
forerunner to the crock pot! The haybox cooker is also known as a
strawbox cooking. An
from the 19th Century
Originally, hayboxes were square or rectangular boxes, insulated with
molded holes inset to hold one or two pots of hot food.
Haybox cooking was done where the meal was
brought to the boil in the normal manner and then placed in the haybox
to continue to slow cook. However, although hay or straw was the
for insulation, it really isn’t that great. Both tend to absorb the
steam and the grasses end up sappy and start to smell if you use them
I hate to say this, being a traditionalist, but polystyrene
is a far better way of insulating your boxes.
How to Use your Haybox
a haybox is a very fuel-efficient way of cooking, and particularly
suited to cooking
soups, stews, curries, milk puddings, and rice
dishes. The haybox may also be used for making yogurt and for keeping
How to Make your own Haybox
hayboxes are few and far between these days, but you can make a cheap
alternative. Line a strong cardboard box with 5 pieces of
at least 2 inched thick, making sure that the pieces have been cut
exactly the same sizes for the walls and the floor, so that there is a
tight and snug fit. You will need a saucepan with two small handles and
a tight fitting lid.
make the box for a particular size pot,
as the less space there is around the pot, the better, as the less heat
is lost, and the better your food will cook. Any spaces around your pot
can be filled with crumpled or shredded newspaper. Once your food has
been placed inside, and covered with your tight-fitting lid, cover
again with any crumpled newspaper and then provide the lid for your
haybox, of polystyrene.
make sure that your food cooks well, make sure that you have pre-boiled
it on the stove for at least 10 minutes so that the heat has been
thoroughly distributed, even to the chunks of meat your may have in
your stews and curries. Then quickly transfer your food to the box,
pad with crumpled newspaper, cover with the polystyrene lid, and then
cover with the cardboard lid. Place something heavy to totally cover
the top. Leave your food undisturbed for 8-10 hours without peeking!
Some meats may need a couple of hours more.
way of making a hayboxes, or fireless cookers, is to use a cooler
box you would normally take with you when fishing, camping or
Australia it is called an Esky,
named after the brand name, and in New
Zealand it is called a Chilly
Bin. However, because it already has the
polystyrene lining inside the plastic coating, it is excellent for this
purpose. Just make sure that the size of the pot, is the right one for
the cooler box you want to use.
Recipes for Hayboxes
Haybox Recipes - Corned
Beef and Cabbage
and soak 6 pounds of corned beef
in cold water overnight. Place in pot the next morning with enough
boiling water to cover the meat. Boil for 30 minutes. Remove from heat,
place into your hayboxes. Cover quickly and let stand undisturbed for 5
hours. If cabbage is to be used, add the cabbage to the pot after
boiling the meat on the stove.
a chicken to the pot with two
chopped onions, some pepper and salt to taste. You can at this stage
also add celery and whole carrots. Pour over boiling water to
cover and boil for 20 minutes. Remove from stove, put into your
hayboxes and leave for four hours. If you have a young chicken it
should be ready in just over 2 hours. Thicken the gravy with 2
tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour after the chicken has
been removed from the fireless cooker. You may need to place this back
on the heat to thicken. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice or mashed
lamb into pot with enough boiling water to cover and place on stove.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 onions. Boil for 20 minutes. Leave in
hayboxes for 5 hours undisturbed. Thicken gravy as for stewed chicken.
Haybox Recipes - Boiled
a 12 pound piece of smoked ham and wash well. Soak overnight if highly
salted. Place in pot and cover with boiling water. Add 2 onions and
boil for 25 minutes. Remove from stove and put it into your fireless
cookers. Leave undisturbed for 5 hours. If you are using a ham of 16
pounds, you will need to leave it for 6 hours.
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