Forgotten savings

The Hay Slow Cooker (hooikist) was invented in the Netherlands around 1900 and especially popular during the Second World War, when heating fuel was scarce. Nowadays it is forgotten, which is a pity as it can save up to 80% on cooking fuel costs. The Hay Slow Cooker is ideal in temperate climates for long cooking food in liquid such as beans, pulses, rice, grains, stews with meat like goulash, chicken pots like coq-au-vin, potatoes, porridge, soup, etc.. In warm climates a solar cooker is probably more practical. Do not slow cook fresh vegetables, steaming is the best way to preserve vitamins. The Hay Slow Cooker is easy and cheap to make and your food will never burn! It is also said that the Hay Slow Cooker is perfect for cooking large quantities, as the heat is spread more equally than on a stove.

How it works

A pot on the stove requires continuous heating because it is constantly losing heat to its surroundings. A Hay Slow Cooker wraps around a hot pot and insulates, thus keeping the heat inside much longer. Only 20% of the normal cooking time on the stove is needed, the hay will do the rest of the cooking for free.

How to use the Hay Slow Cooker

Boil the food on the stove one fifth (1/5) of the normally required cooking time up to a maximum of 20 minutes. Transfer the pot quickly to the Hay Slow Cooker. Leave the pot 3 times the normally required cooking time in the Hay Slow Cooker. Foods that require a very long cooking time can be reheated shortly to boiling point on the stove and then returned to the Hay Slow Cooker to continue cooking. Reheat the food to boiling point before serving to be sure of food safety.

Filled almost to the brim with 4 liters (1 gallon) of boiling water and beans, the fully cooked contents of the pot were still 70 degrees Celcius / 158 degrees Fahrenheit after staying for 6 hours in the hay slow cooker of this instructible. These figures will vary depending on the size and model of the pot and hay slow cooker.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

To start, you need a large cooking pot with a well fitting lid. The hay and fleece cover will be custom made to fit this particular pot. Preferably the knob on the lid and the handles should protrude as little as possible. A long handle as on a sauce pan is not suitable.


� cotton fabric ( a few old shirts, a bed sheet)
� fleece (from old sweaters)
� cord or ribbon, about as thick as shoe laces
� newspaper or other paper for templates
� hay (dried grass, I used a 1 kg pack of rabbit fodder, 1.20 Euro / 1.60$ at the local supermarket). Straw, which is thicker than hay, is less suitable because it insulates less well.


Sewing machine, sewing needle, thread, scissors, safety pin or special needle to thread the ribbon/cord, pins, measuring tape


Only beginners sewing skills are needed. Except for the circumference of the small circle for the rectangle, the measurements need not be very precise. A few centimetres (around 1 inch) more or less do not matter: just fill the pillows with more or less hay for a good fit around the pot.

Great 'ible. I would think using a cast iron dutch oven would be ideal for this, since cast iron holds heat better than thinner pots. Guess I better buy some more dutch ovens when I make this! Good job.
I enjoyed your instructables. I have also been using this method for years. There is no other way to cook rice. I boil it for 5 minutes and then put it in the box. I call it a Hot Box and it is filled with polystyrene chips rather than hay. <br>Here are the instructions to make it. <br> <br>http://funkyfuzzypanda.blogspot.com/2011/01/green-fuzzy-panda-5-make-your-own-hot.html
I have used this concept for long already. Especially good for rice potatoes and stews. But cox I am too lazy to build a 'hooikist' I have used a much easier method: When I take the pan of the fire, I wrap it in a thick towel and then put that pan+towel in my bed, with the duvet stuffed over it ;-)<br><br>Works like a miracle. Never burned rice anymore and my gas-bil is really low.<br><br>Yeah, one day I will make the hooikist but for now I can tell you the principle works
This is an awesome instructable. Thanks for taking the time to work it all out and make the math easy. I'm about halfway through making one. In the future I plan to use it to do demonstrations of energy efficient cooking techniques. The pdf could use a bit of streamlining. At least one page (Measurements and Templates) has three different versions which all print when I am only telling my computer to print one page.
I love your hay cooker instructable! On dddddd's point, I would add that a fantastic use for this might be cooking outdoors, say, on a camping trip, hauling the packets empty and filling with straw or other available dry materials at the campsite. I can also see its utility at an outdoor picnic/pig picking event to keep contents hot longer. And the cat points to an additional use for this pattern (sans lid), to make pet beds. The "ring" portion is especially preferred by my 13 year old Springer Spaniel, to ease pressure on her arthritic hips and keeps warmth around her tender joints. Well done!!
Thanks Teklawgirl! It warms my heart to know that at least for one being on the world (your Spaniel) it was worth making this instructable.
What an awesome idea! There should be a section on this site for useful things our grandparents would have done! BTW, great pic of the cat. -T
Very nice. Using one fifth of the energy to cook food doesn't mean much in an age when fuel gas and electricity are delivered to our houses. In the days when you burnt wood, and had to gather it yourself and carry it yourself, something like this would mean carrying one-fifth the wood. Many old processes and methods were much more conservative than anything we do today. And the handcrafting is another benefit. You got my vote.
What a beautiful Hay Cooker! Thanks s much for sharing this. Fantastic, I love it.
Your cat seems to like it a lot Hes cute
I think this is a great idea! Thanks for posting.
Very interesting!
I have GOT to get that cat recipe from you from step 13. Maybe try it with a siamese for some asian flavor... ;-)
I prefer to cook my hay quickly. (hehe . . neigh)

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