I love the Wonderbag 02/07/11
Laura Cooke tests out the Wonderbag energy-efficient cooking solution and is blown away by super fluffy rice.
When the Wonderbag folk told me that I’d “never cook rice any other way again!” I was intrigued. Considering how much rice I cook on a weekly basis, I was curious as to whether my life would be revolutionised by a simple drawstring bag filled with polystyrene beads. But, they seemed pretty confident and I was happy to put the Wonderbag to the test.
What is the Wonderbag?
The Wonderbag is a heat-retention/insulation cooker that works like any slow cooker. But it uses no electricity, gas or other fuel and greatly reduces the amount of stove time needed for slow cooking recipes.
This is definitely not new technology and in the past, many kitchens had their own “hotbox”, but is not a common practice in most modern kitchens. (Ed’s note: I have seen the same concept used when hiking in the mountains. Instead of a Wonderbag, you can wrap your pot in your sleeping bag. But you do risk getting rice in your bed if others are not aware of what you’re doing!)
The Wonderbag is largely aimed at making a difference to countries and communities with “high poverty rates, a shortage of fuel supplies, a high incidence of health problems associated with air pollution, and/or injuries resulting from fuel fires.” Considering how easy and effective it was in my first rice attempt, I don’t think that this is something that should be relegated to poverty stricken areas.
But let’s get down to business and go through the process of using the wonderful Wonderbag.
How to cook your rice
1. Bring your rice to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes on the stovetop. (Use 1 cup rice to 1 cup water as a general rule)
But, it’s not just useful for rice. You can cook a variety of meals. The creators, Natural Balance, have a list of recipes on their website which I still need to try out. These include spicy chickpeas, sweet potato and spinach curry and beetroot salad. I will keep you posted as I try them out.
The verdict? Buy one. It is an amazing addition to the kitchen.
- Be careful to not add too much liquid to your dishes. Remember, no steam escapes during the cooking process, hence the food will be watery if there’s too much liquid to start off with. This is especially true for rice – too much water will leave the rice waterlogged.
- Use the right size pot for the amount of food you want to cook. Heat is retained more effectively when the pot is full.
- Place a dish cloth in the bottom of the bag to keep it clean and to protect the fabric.
- Do not use a heavy cast-iron pot. It could be too hot and cause the polystyrene balls to melt.
- Casseroles transferred directly from the oven to the Wonderbag should not be hotter than 180°C.
- The Wonderbag is a wonderfully efficient warming oven. It keeps heated plates and prepared meals warm for considerable periods of time.
- Instead of wrapping avocados in newspaper to ripen, simply leave them in your Wonderbag™ for a day or two.
- Take your Wonderbag with when you go shopping to prevent ice cream and other frozen foodstuffs from defrosting on your way home.
- Use your Wonderbag when you have to transport cold or frozen foodstuffs. It keeps frozen chicken pieces frozen for 12 hours.
- Small Wonderbag
Big enough to hold a pot with a 1.5 litre capacity, the small Wonderbag is ideal for a meal for one or to bring your lunch box to work.
Price: R70 each
- Standard Wonderbag
The standard bag can hold pots ranging in size from 3-12 litres, and is perfect for most domestic kitchens.
Price: R170 each
- Catering Wonderbag
These super-sized Wonderbag can hold a pot of up to 25 litres and are ideal for special event catering such as weddings, funerals and celebrations, or for care-giving organisations such as old age homes, children’s homes and feeding schemes.
Price: R450 each
- Branded Wonderbag
For corporate or business clients, Natural Balance brand Wonderbags by embroidering their logo on the lid.
Price: R20 added to the prices quoted above.
Tel: +27 11 442 2767
Cell phone number: +27 78 386 6204
Address: Unit 10, Fire Station Building, 27 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg