THERE’S something impressive about a gadget that requires neither direct power nor a slew of electronics to achieve something special.
Too many gadgets are hi-tech tat, like garden centres polluted with overpriced home furnishings instead of plants. The Wonderbag, as gadgets go, has some soul.
It’s a heat-retention cooking bag at heart; a big heat hug for slow cooking. Made from a series of layers of heat-insulating fabric with drawstrings, it consumes a pot of food like a sea anemone and feels like a beanbag. My mum was staying in a teepee up north for a weekend, so I gave it to her to field test in some challenging conditions. There was little need for an instruction manual, first the chicken casserole had to be brought to the boil to get the cooking process started and then it was bagged in the Wonderbag. About three hours later the onion layers of fabric were unwrapped to reveal a perfectly cooked moist chicken casserole with vegetables.
The initial top-up heating at the start varies with the food type, with rice needing only two minutes on the stove and one hour in the Wonderbag, while most meat dishes require 20 minutes of heat and five hours of bagging. The big impact of the Wonderbag has been in developing nations, where it can reduce fuel usage by up to 30 per cent, save water and cut CO2 emissions. The makers have already distributed more than 500,000 throughout Southern Africa, saving an estimated 250,000 tonnes of carbon per year. Every £30 Wonderbag purchased also allows a free one to be sent to Africa.
It all makes for a truly relaxing cooking experience, and there are a few interesting recipes on the Wonderbag website to get you started, including a tasty veggie stew with cheddar and herb dumplings.
• Wonderbag, £30, nb-wonderbag.com/