Sunday, December 30, 2012

haybox cooking the original crockpot/slowcooker

Before there were electric crock pot/slowcookers there was haybox cooking also known as a Norwegian stove.

The idea is simple: bring the food to a boil, insulate well, and let sit. The food will continue to cook at a slow rate for several hours or stay hot for up to 10 hours.

Making your own haybox cooker is quite simple.

You will need:

family sized cooking pot with a tight fitting lid (we use a dutch oven)
a large cardboard box
insulation material. This could be newspapers made into paperballs, shredded paper, sawdust, wood shavings, hay, or anything that can be packed tightly around the pot inside the box. (dirt would even work well in a pinch).
newspapers or other material for a box top
a fabric cover  (optional)

1. Choose a pan  that will hold enough food to serve your needs
2. find a sturdy cardboard box large enough to have about 5 inches of space around all sides of the pan
3. cover the bottom of the box with about 5 inches of tightly compacted insulation (The tighter you pack the insulation the greater heat retention)
4. Place the pan in the center of the box (on top of the insulation). The pan should fit just below the top of the box. Add more insulation to raise the pan to this level if needed.
5. place more insulation around the pot bringing the insulation level with the top of the pot. making it as compact as possible.
6. make a lid for the box. A stack of newspapers 3-4 inches thick secured with masking tape would do just fine for a lid.
7. make a fabric cover if desired.

The temperature in the box will usually range between 180-200 Fahrenheit. This depends on the compactness of the insulation materials and the tightness of the lid.

Cooking in the oven is very simple

bring the food to a boil and then place the pan into the box seal it up and let it be. Try to open the box as little as possible.

rice will be ready in about 30 minutes. Bring to a boil and then into the box for 1/2 hour
dry beans bring to a boil for 15 minutes then place in the box for 2-3 hours
stews bring to a boil for about 15-20 minutes then place in the box for about 2-3 hours
Any of your crockpot recipes can be adapted for haybox use. Just get the cooking process started, then into the box to continue cooking.

This method of cooking is so simple. Because there is no source of heat, the food will not overcook or burn no matter how long you leave the food in the box. Start food in the afternoon, it will be ready and hot for dinner later on in the evening.

Notes adapted from: The next crisis: Surviving in times of scarcity, Inter-American Institute pages 115-17

shared at


  1. That is pretty cool! I am totally pinning this!

  2. Cool project to try! I would love to have you share your posts on The HomeAcre Hop!

  3. Thanks for linking up with The HomeAcre Hop! Can't wait to see what you share next week :)

  4. Cool. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library. Newest follower!!

  5. Fascinating, what a great project to try sometime, would save energy too. Thanks for sharing with Hearth & Soul Hop. :)

  6. Same principle as was used over here on Sundays: Before church the pot with stew was heated, packed in a blanket and put in bed. It was ready when people came home. You can also insulate your box with hay filled cushions and stuff the open spaces with old towels.

  7. This was so interesting! I'd never heard of this before but it makes sense. Thank you for sharing with Simple Meals Friday. You are one of our features this week!