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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Using a wood burning stove for cooking

We would be very cold without our wood-burning stove but are we using it to its full potential - could we also do some of our cooking on the wood-stove and save on our energy bills.

Our wood-stove is flat on top, so is able to support a saucepan safely and reaches a very hot surface temperature. So why not use this heat for cooking as well as comfort? We already use the wood-stove to boil a kettle for drinks or washing-up but have recently tried out it's cooking potential.

The wood-stoves heat output alters with the kind of wood burned and depending on how much air is allowed through it's vents. All woods burn differently and for example - pine burns quickly but doesn't give off much heat whilst olive wood makes a hot fire with a strong heat and a long lasting burn.

A wood stove's temperature is increased when wood is added, then drops as it burns. By adding wood frequently in smaller amounts, you can keep the temperature relatively even.

To test the surface temperature of a wood-stove, place a little water on the surface and see how it behaves. If the water rolls while sizzling, the surface is between 230-345 degrees celsius and you can easily boil or fry foods at this heat. If the water drops spread out slightly and sizzle steadily, the wood stove is between 150-200 degrees celsius and hot enough to simmer or bake. If the drops of water flatten and bubble, cooking will be slow, but perhaps you may be able to use the heat for slow steaming.

Our wood stove has it's own door for the removal ash tray and we have found this to be a good place to cook potatoes wrapped in foil. We have also successfully cooked beetroot on the top and made a rice pudding. Soups and stews are the next foods we are going to try and we are looking for wood stove recipes to add to our cooking options, possibly even using the ash try area for baking..

Time for a hot drink - the kettle is steaming hot and the room is lovely and warm on this wet and chilly day.

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