Thermos Cooking

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    • #62653
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

        We’re all familiar with the thermos bottle. A lot of us use it to store hot beverages. Some of us grew up with our mothers forcing a thermos full of soup we could eat during lunch at school.

        But did you know that you can also cook with your thermos bottle? Many thermos cooking advocates consider preparing food in a thermos to be a great time- and energy-saver. When you’re out in the field, thermos cooking will provide a hot meal that is ready at your meal stop. And you won’t have to make do with cold MRE’s or waiting for the MRE heater to do its work.

        How Thermos Cooking Works

        How does thermos cooking work? We all know that storing hot liquids in a thermos will keep them warm for at least six hours. That’s because a thermos bottle is built with a vacuum surrounding its inner container. This vacuum prevents heat from dissipating and basically traps it right inside the thermos’ inner container. Over time, this trapped heat can sufficiently cook the food items stored inside the thermos.

        However, because thermos cooking works by preventing heat transfer from occurring, the first step to efficient thermos cooking is by pre-heating the inside of the bottle. You do this by boiling water and then pouring the freshly boiled water inside the thermos. After 10 minutes or so, you can use the hot water used to preheat the thermos to do coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Then you can dump the ingredients you want to cook inside your thermos. All you need to do is to top it up with more boiling water. You’ll be able to tell if the food in your thermos is cooked by shaking the bottle. If your food sloshes about inside your thermos, it’s not yet ready (unless, of course, it’s soup).

        Thermos cooking is perfect for preparing whole grains and vegetables. However, some ingredients such as meat and hard vegetables will still need to be pre-cooked unless you use canned meats, freeze dried, or dehydrated. To increase heated water cooking effectiveness, cook with thermos on its side, this provides more surface area for heat to cook food since contents won’t bunch up at bottom of thermos.

        The quality of the thermos you use for cooking matters as well. Some thermos bottles don’t hold heat as much as others. When you attempt thermos cooking, you should go for high-end metal thermos bottles. These retain a lot of heat. You can easily buy a cheap but high-quality thermos from any department store.

        Recipes for Thermos Cooking

        These recipes give minimum short cook times; I have never used these short times. Normally it is several hours before I eat while it’s slow cooking. Tastes much better this way.

        Recipe 1: Oatmeal
        Serves: 1 to 2
        Preparation time: 10 minutes
        Thermos Cooking time: Minimum of 10 minutes

        Ingredients:
        1 cup oats
        4 cups boiling water
        Salt (or sugar) to taste
        Your choice of nuts and dried fruits

        Instructions:
        1. Preheat your thermos with boiling water. Dump the water out after 10 minutes.
        2. Put the oats inside your thermos.
        3. Add the freshly boiled water, 4 cups for every 1 cup of oats.
        4. Cover and seal your thermos.
        5. When you’re ready to eat, season your oatmeal with salt or sugar. Mix in nuts and dried fruits as desired.

        Recipe 2: Beef Chili
        Serves: 2 to 3
        Preparation time: 15 minutes (including pre-cooking)
        Thermos Cooking time: Minimum of 15 minutes

        Ingredients:
        1 lb ground lean beef
        1 medium white onion, chopped
        3 cloves garlic, minced
        1 cup green bell pepper, diced
        1 can diced tomatoes
        1 can tomato sauce
        1 can beans (your choice of red or white kidney beans, black beans or pinto beans)
        2 tsp. cumin powder
        2 tsp. chili powder
        Salt and pepper

        Instructions:
        1. Preheat your thermos with boiling water. Dump the water out after 10 minutes.
        2. While you’re preheating your thermos, brown the ground beef in a pan or boil while heating water.
        3. Add the garlic, the onions and the green bell pepper; cook until the onions are transparent.
        4. Add the tomato sauce and allow the mixture to boil.
        5. Put the beans and the contents of the pan in the empty, preheated thermos.
        6. Mix in the cumin powder, chili powder, salt and pepper.
        7. Cover the thermos tightly.

        Recipe 3: Chicken Macaroni Soup
        Serves: 2 to 3
        Preparation time: 10 minutes (including pre-cooking)
        Thermos Cooking time: Minimum of 15 minutes

        Ingredients:
        1 cup chicken breast, cut to bite-sized pieces
        1 small white onion, chopped
        2 cloves garlic, minced
        1 cup macaroni
        4 cups boiling water
        1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
        1/2 cup carrots, chopped finely
        1 tsp olive oil
        Salt and pepper to taste

        Instructions:
        1. Preheat your thermos with boiling water. Dump the water out after 10 minutes.
        2. While preheating your thermos, heat the olive oil in a skillet.
        3. Saute the chicken breast until brown.
        4. Add the garlic and onion, cook until onion is transparent.
        5. Put the sauteed chicken, garlic and onions and the macaroni in the empty and preheated thermos bottle.
        6. Pour in the freshly boiled water.
        7. Add the vegetables and the salt and pepper.
        8. Cover the thermos tightly.

        Recipe 4: Bread and Raisins Pudding
        Serves: 2 to 3
        Preparation time: 10 minutes (including pre-cooking)
        Thermos Cooking time: Minimum of 10 minutes

        Ingredients:
        3 slices bread, cut into small cubes
        1 can evaporated milk
        2 tbsp honey
        1 tsp vanilla extract
        1/4 cup dried raisins
        1/8 tsp cinnamon
        1 pinch nutmeg

        Instructions:
        1. Preheat your thermos with boiling water. Dump the water out after 10 minutes.
        2. While preheating your thermos, mix all the ingredients except for the bread in a sauce pan or skillet.
        3. Put the bread cubes in the empty, preheated thermos.
        4. Pour in the mixture from the skillet.
        5. Cover the thermos tightly.

        Recipe 5: Pork and Vegetable Soup
        Serves: 2 to 3
        Preparation time: 15 minutes (including pre-cooking)
        Thermos Cooking time: Minimum of 10 minutes

        Ingredients:
        1 tbsp butter
        1 lb lean ground pork
        1 small white onion, chopped finely
        3 cloves garlic, minced
        1 cup potatoes, cut into small cubes
        1 cup carrots, cut into small cubes
        1 cup cabbage, shredded
        1 can green peas
        1 can tomato juice
        2 cups water or vegetable stock
        Salt and pepper

        Instructions:
        1. Preheat your thermos with boiling water. Dump the water out after 10 minutes.
        2. While preheating your thermos, melt the butter in a skillet and brown the ground pork.
        3. Add the onion and garlic, cook until onion is transparent.
        4. Add the potatoes and the liquids. Allow the mixture to boil.
        5. Transfer the mixture in the skillet to the empty, preheated thermos.
        6. Put the remaining vegetables in the thermos.
        7. Season with salt and pepper.
        8. Cover the thermos tightly.

        There are countless recipes available online for thermos cooking. Try some then experiment to find what you like.

        The way it works for me in a Field environment is I plan on eating two hot meals a day, supplemented by snacks and such. During dinner I heat water for preheating thermos and prepare breakfast meal. The next morning I enjoy breakfast while preparing dinner, by evening it’s ready. The cycle continues until return to traditional facilities.

        The benefits to this method of cooking in the field is always having a hot meal ready (particularly when MRE’s are unavailable) and minimizing food scent. When used with a Dakota Fire pit or a Kelly Kettle, you minimize fuel consumption and greatly reduce smoke signature.

      • #62654
        JohnyMac
        Participant

          GREAT write-up GWNS!

          I have read about thermos cooking but had never gotten around to trying it. Now you have inspired me to try it out.

          Thanks :good:

        • #62655
          Corvette
          Participant

            Good write up..took time to do, thanks.

            Bergmann

          • #62656
            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
            Moderator

              Hey Bergmann,

              Good to hear from you.

              Glad you liked it, not as sexy as tactics, but as I suspect you know, very important.

            • #62657
              Joe (G.W.N.S.)
              Moderator

                Thought I would bring this back from storage since it will also go along with some newer Threads I have planned.

                I can’t stress enough how much a quality tasting hot meal goes to making life in the field much more bearable. :yes:

              • #62658
                Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                Moderator

                  Using a Thermos to rehydrate meals is an excellent option.

                  Dehydrating Food for Field Rations and Preparedness

                  Building and Using Expedient Field Rations

                • #62659
                  Robert
                  Participant

                    We used to make whole wheat cereal in these a lot. Boiling water, whole wheat kernals, leave overnight. In the morning drain off water and use for cereal.

                    Best “easy” way to use storage wheat.

                  • #62660
                    Brian from Georgia
                    Participant

                      Darn good tips. I’ll try the cereal with my bucket of hard white wheat. I can’t get it to rise good for bread.

                    • #62661
                      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                      Moderator

                        We used to make whole wheat cereal in these a lot.

                        Great example, what I like most about thermos cooking is preparing your next meal in advance, So when it’s time to eat you can get right to it.

                        Two hot meals a day supplemented with snacks in between has always worked well for me.

                      • #62662
                        Corvette
                        Participant

                          This works!!

                          A lot of folks store wheat for years and years. Grab some whole wheat kernels; drop in a thermos of boiling water and enjoy in the morning.

                        • #62663
                          Corvette
                          Participant

                            By the way. Is there a preferred Thermos that is military quality as far a being robust yet not weighing a ton?

                          • #62664
                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                            Moderator

                              I prefer a wide mouth double insulated stainless steel inside and out. No glass!

                              Weights a relative thing and must be considered by end user, the one I currently use is a non-namebrand that holds a little over 24 oz and weighs 1 lb empty.I

                              Adjust recipes accordingly.

                              Remember you can practice and adjust recipes at home until you find your favorites.

                            • #62665
                              wheelsee
                              Participant

                                We used to make whole wheat cereal in these a lot. Boiling water, whole wheat kernals, leave overnight. In the morning drain off water and use for cereal.

                                Best “easy” way to use storage wheat.

                                Be sure to try this BEFORE depending on it. While you may be able to eat wheat pasta, wheat bread, etc, without problems, the use of the wheat berries may be just enough to set off allergies or even an allergic reaction.

                                I eat wheat bread all the time, including fresh ground wheat. BUT, eating wheat berries that had been soaked and used as cereal was enough to cause a mild allergic reaction for me – puffy swollen eyes, itchy watery eyes, runny nose (copious), tickling in my throat, itchy ears – NONE of which had I had with regular wheat products.

                                I still eat the fresh-ground wheat products without problems, but the whole wheat berries are a no-go.

                                Learn NOW while there is modern medicine to prevent severe allergic reaction or even anaphylaxis (high potential of death for this one)

                              • #62666
                                Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                Moderator

                                  Overdue for a bump! ;-)

                                • #125624
                                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                  Moderator

                                    Max’s recent thread British Infantry Belt Kit: Review JayJays Gen 4 Web Gear reminded me of my preferred field meals for sustainment.

                                    When you’re out in the field, thermos cooking will provide a hot meal that is ready at your meal stop. And you won’t have to make do with cold MRE’s or waiting for the MRE heater to do its work.

                                    This is particularly applicable to cold weather operations.

                                    The way it works for me in a Field environment is I plan on eating two hot meals a day, supplemented by snacks and such. During dinner I heat water for preheating thermos and prepare breakfast meal. The next morning I enjoy breakfast while preparing dinner, by evening it’s ready. The cycle continues until return to traditional facilities.

                                    The benefits to this method of cooking in the field is always having a hot meal ready (particularly when MRE’s are unavailable) and minimizing food scent. When used with a Dakota Fire pit or a Kelly Kettle, you minimize fuel consumption and greatly reduce smoke signature.

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