This section is from the book "Hints To Housewives On How To Buy, How To Care For Food", by Mayor Mitchel's Food Supply Committee. Also available from Amazon: Hints to Housewives on How to Buy, How to Care for Food.
A fireless cooker is a box so made and lined that when food is heated over a fire for a short time and then placed in the box, the heat will be retained in the box and the food will continue to cook without the use of any additional fire or heat.
The fireless cooker is particularly good for cooking the less tender cuts of meat or meat that requires long cooking. It can also be used for cooking soup, pot roast, beef stew, Irish stew, lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage, boiled ham, baked beans, chicken fricassee, vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots and beets, dried vegetables such as peas, beans and lentils, dried fruits such as peaches, apples, apricots and prunes, cereals, and puddings.
Most people do not cook cereals long enough. By using a fireless cooker you can prepare your cereal at night, cook it on the stove for about fifteen minutes, put it in the fireless cooker, and when you get up in the morning you will find it all cooked and ready to be eaten. In this way you save both time and fuel.
Lots of women who have to be away from their homes all day prepare the family dinner in the morning, put it in the fireless cooker, and find it cooked and ready to be eaten on their return at night. This is a great help to the woman who has to work hard all day and who is too tired to prepare and cook a dinner when she gets home at night.
There are various makes of fireless cookers that can be bought in stores where household furnishings are sold. They range in price from $5 to $22, according to the size and make of the cooker.
It is not necessary, however, for you to buy a fireless cooker. You can easily make one at home.
Try It You Will Find It Will Save Not Only Your Time But Many A Dollar On Your Coal And Gas Bills.
Directions for Fireless Cooker No. 1 (Single Cooker)
Galvanized iron can, No. 3, with cover, about................... $0.78
Sawdust, about.............................................. 0.10
Two yards denim, about...................................... 0.45
Covered agate pail (to be used as cooking - pail), about.......... 0.20
(It is not necessary to use denim. You can use an old tablecloth, muslin, canton flannel or any old wool material you happen to have on hand.)
Method - Place loose sawdust in the bottom of the can to a depth of about 3 inches. Fold the two yards of denim or other material lengthwise and make a long bag. This bag, when empty, should be about two inches deeper than the cooking-pail. Fill the bag with sawdust; lay the bag flat on the table and spread the sawdust evenly. When filled with sawdust the bag should be a little deeper than the cooking - pail. Then roll the bag around the cooking-pail so that a smooth, firm nest is formed when the bag is placed upright in the can on top of the sawdust. From the remaining denim or other material make a round flat bag (material will have to be pieced for this). Fill the bag with sawdust and use it on top of the cooking-pail. The bags must be made and fitted into the can in such a way that there will be no open space - whatever between the sides of the cooking-pail and the can, or between the top of the cooking-pail and the cover of the can, through which heat can escape.
Directions for Fireless Cooker No. 2 (Double Cooker)
Materials Needed - Three Wooden Boxes (One Long Box And Two Square Boxes; The Long Box Must Be Large Enough To Hold The Other Two And Still Leave At Least Two Inches Of Space Between All The Boxes)
Your grocer will doubtless be glad to let you have the boxes without charge or at a very small cost.
Sheet asbestos, 5 1/4 yards, one yard wide, at about 20c. per yard.. $1.05
Two covered agate pails (to be used as cooking pails), about..... 0.40
Denim, 1 yard, about........................................ 0.22
(Any old muslin, canton flannel or wool goods that you happen to have on hand may be used in place of denim.)
Method - First of all line the bottoms and sides of all three boxes with the sheet asbestos. Then in the bottom of the long box lay newspapers flat to a depth of about one-half an inch. Then put two inches of sawdust on top of this layer of newspapers. Then place the two square boxes inside the long one, leaving at least two inches of space between the two square boxes. Fill all the spaces between all the boxes with sawdust. Then tack a strip of denim or other material from the edges of the square boxes to the outside edge of the long box; also across the space between the two square boxes, so that the strip of denim will cover all the spaces that are filled with sawdust.
The outside box must have a wooden lid. Line the lid with the sheet asbestos to within a half inch of the edge of the lid. Then put a layer of sawdust one inch deep on top of the asbestos. Then tack a piece of denim or other material over the sawdust, still leaving the edge free and clear so that the cover will fit down tightly. Or the lid may be lined with asbestos and a pillow made of denim or other material and filled with sawdust that will fit tightly down into the top of the box.
Note - These Fireless Cookers Are Not An Experiment. They Have Been Tested And Found To Be Most Practical And Useful.