CAN COOKING BE ECO-FRIENDLY?
Last week I posted a recipe ‘Great Weekend Food’ which got a lot of attention. One of our lovely subscribers questioned if it might be better to suggest recipes which don’t require cooking in an oven for an hour, especially in summer. And yes, I have to agree. It would be better to have a shorter cooking time or none at all. But recipes I feel are to be shared and saved to used when the need arises. This could be summer, or it could be winter. This doesn’t get away from the fact that I suggested to bake the potatoes for an hour, which is the normal procedure for baking potatoes. I have had a good think about how I could have altered the recipe and I have some suggestions to make the process far more eco-friendly.
How could we change our cooking?
Microwave food. Believe it or not microwaving food uses less energy (80 percent less energy than conventional ovens), so it is a better way to cook food. Also, food cooks faster in a microwave when placed towards the edges of the rotating tray rather than in the centre.
Don’t cook. Prepare a meal that doesn’t require heat, like a salad or raw food meal. There is such a selection of raw food recipes making it easy to be healthy, but also more energy efficient.
Use an energy efficient cooker. Look at the star rating and purchase a cooker that is close to or is a 5 star rating. If you already have a cooker, whose rating is low and you have no option, but to keep it, pay attention to how you use it. Only use it when necessary. Never leave it running with no food cooking. Try to keep the burners at the lowest power possible for the cooking that is required.
Best to use gas. Gas ovens are up to three times more energy-efficient than electric cookers. Fan-assisted ovens use around 20 per cent less energy than standard ovens and have shorter warm-up times.
Cook one meal for everyone in the family. It is far more energy efficient to avoid cooking separate meals at different times.
Try one pot meals. Easy to put together and less cleaning.
Things to do when cooking:
Use the temperature setting as per the recipe, not a higher temperature. A higher temperature won’t necessary cook your meal quicker. It is most likely to cook the outside much faster than the inside of your meal.
Avoid opening the oven while cooking.
Turn off the heat for the oven a couple of minutes before your food is fully cooked. If the door is not opened before time, the food will continue to cook in the remaining heat. e.g. casseroles and roasts can have the heat turned off at least 15 minutes ahead of the time before you are expected to remove the food. (Please check food using a meat thermometer to ensure it is completely cooked.)
Bake and cook in batches. Dinners like lasagne can be prepared for a number of days, only requiring reheating in a microwave. A lot of biscuits and cakes can last a while if stored correctly and therefore can be baked in batches.
If you are lucky enough to have a pressure cooker you should pull it out a bit more. Compared to cooking in regular pots, it can save up to 70 percent of the energy. Pressure cookers are great as they cook so quickly, retain flavours and hold onto nutrients.
Choose a hob size that matches the diameter of the pot or pan and make sure the pot is placed at the centre of the hobs. Avoid having the flames licking up the side of a pot as this is not heating the food any faster and wasting energy.
Use a toaster, not the grill. It takes a lot more energy to heat up the grill.
Boil water in an electric kettle, not the hob. Also, only boil the water you need to reduce energy usage, instead of filling the kettle.
Remember when using water for steaming vegetables why not place your pasta, grains or other vegetables in the water to avoid having two or more pots cooking.
I'm sure there are more suggestions that could be added to this list, so feel free to let me know what I have missed, but I do hope this helps you when considering how to cook eco-friendly. I know in the future I will be more mindful to include the eco changes to any recipes I put on here, but please use this post as a reference for any cooking.
Have fun exploring all the greener ways to cook,
Attracta & the earthly passion team