Fireless cooking is cooking, as is obvious, without a fire. This statement is true and not true, for the fire-less cooker cannot generate heat, and foods must first be raised to the boiling point on a real fire and instantly insulated before it can do its work. The first fireless cookers or hay stoves were boxes packed and made tight so as to conserve heat by insulation. Heat was put into food, then it was quickly and closely shut into the insulator and did not lose its heat for many hours. Home-made boxes were often made so perfectly tight that the water put in twelve hours earlier would be found boiling when the cover was taken off.

To the principle of insulation has now been added another, that of radiation. The experimenters first used a common soapstone griddle, heated over the fire, and placed in their box or insulating oven. This enabled them to bake as well as to boil and stew by this method. The manufacturers make little radiators, which are heated and put at the bottom and at the top of the cooking space. This has increased the usefulness of the cooker in many ways.

Necessity being the mother of invention and of adaptation, it was inevitable that the fireless cooker should come into existence. Some inexpensive method of long and slow cooking was needed to supplement the quick and expensive method of cooking by gas. Long cooking makes food more digestible and of better flavor, and the less expensive foods in general require this if they are to be used at all. As to the economy of fuel, it is claimed that a saving of 90% of gas can be made by using the fireless cooker.

The principle of the cooker is not new. The hole in the ground — coals being retained to radiate heat — the brick oven of our grandmothers, the bricks of which were heated by building a fire inside and then raking out all but a few of the coals before putting in the food, the French peasant way of cooking in the hot ashes, and even the hay stove itself - long ago used by Norwegian and German women — were the predecessors of the fine cabinets, with aluminum utensils, which are in so many kitchens or dining-rooms to-day.

Almost anything that can be boiled or steamed and many things that can be baked may be cooked in the fireless cooker with a great saving of the cook's time and labor as well as with an economy of fuel. There is a saving of work because the food does not need to be watched — it will neither burn nor boil over. Cooking utensils do not wear out so rapidly when used in a cooker as when used over a fire, and the kitchen is neither hot nor filled with odors. Onions, turnip, and cabbage may be cooked in this way without disseminating their odors. At preserving time the fireless cooker is considered a great boon.

Meat soup stocks, the cereals, the dried fruits and vegetables, puddings, boiled beef (fresh and corned), stews and their many relatives, and escalloped foods, require to be cooked slowly and long and at a lower than boiling temperature, 212 degrees F., and this may best be done in the fireless cooker. Albuminous and starchy foods are for the most part made hard and indigestible if cooked at the boiling temperature, and are best when it is no more than 167 degrees or a little more.

Cooking is coming to be an exact science and the fireless cooker cannot be used without the exercise of much skill and care. For the most part, in adapting a recipe of something made to be cooked in a range with coal or wood, it is necessary to remember that it will take two or three times as long to cook in the fireless cooker as it does in the other way.

Some of the advertisements for these cookers would lead a cook to believe that she could put in any combinations of foods and leave them cooking for any length of time, while she goes about other duties. But this is not true. There are some foods which cannot be overcooked, but there are others which are decidedly injured if left even to the lesser heat of the fireless cooker too long. Those who have worked long over this method of cooking, and have the greatest faith in it, have a complete and classified time table covering everything that may be cooked in the fireless, with a recognition of all the things or conditions that may make modification necessary.