Price hikes and rationing of LPG might have threatened to cast shadows on the country’s kitchens, but they also give us the drive to think of ways to scale down fuel use. HEMA VIJAY lists suggestions on how to be energy efficient
Down to earth
A terracotta vessel retains heat for a longer time compared to a stainless steel or iron vessel. So with a terracotta vessel, you can switch off the heat once food is about 90 per cent cooked. Thereafter, just keep the dish lidded, and in five minutes or so, the food gets completely cooked without any fresh heat input. It is just incidental that food cooked in terracotta dishes requires less oil and is more tasty too, as terracotta retains the natural flavour of the food. Terracotta vessels are perfectly compatible with LPG flames. Likewise, consider switching over from refrigerated cold water to cool water from earthen pots. Not only does this do away with the electricity required to cool water, it saves energy by ensuring that the refrigerator is kept closed relatively uninterruptedly, which minimises heat gain into the fridge.
How about turning a fruitarian occasionally, which eliminates the cooking process altogether? A meal of fruits once or twice a week with all those vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants would be a definite health booster. Even within the repertoire of cooked meals, every other day, you might try food choices that require less cooking — steam cooked dal-sabji with sautéed spices, rather than sambaar that requires two rounds of elaborate heating (for dal and tamarind); bisi bele huli with raw vegetable salads instead of cooked curry; pulav with uncooked raita; one-pot cooking such as soups and stews. Best of all is this 100 per cent fuel-saver that you could try occasionally — fasting. Not just address fuel woes, it might also give your system a much-needed break!
On the front burner
Apparently, it is possible to save up to 30 per cent of cooking gas by adopting efficient cooking practices. Let us begin with the burner. Use the small burner whenever possible, because it consumes six to 10 per cent less LPG compared to cooking the same quantity of food on the big burner. The Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) concludes this from an experiment of cooking 250 gm of potato. Also, make sure that the vessel base is substantially larger than the burner flame. Otherwise, the heat travels sidewise and is lost to the atmosphere. Shallow vessels are more effective than taller vessels. Likewise, lower the flame once the food has come to a boil. And, pressure cook whenever possible. Meanwhile, since the boiling point of water goes up when you add solutes such as salt to it, if you can delay adding salt to the food being cooked, cooking it involves lesser heat and, consequently, fuel. Keeping cereals and pulses soaked in water for about 20 minutes softens the grains and gets them cooked faster, with at least 10 to 20 per cent less fuel. Also, cooking with the vessel covered with a lid prevents heat from escaping.
Last but not the least, cleanliness pays. Clean burners and vessels save fuel by transmitting heat efficiently. While a bright and steady blue flame indicates efficient burning, an orange, yellow and non-uniform flame indicates that the burner is clogged and burning LPG inefficiently. PCRA also mentions that the use of higher efficiency ‘ISI’ marked LPG stove (with thermal efficiency level of over 68 per cent) saves up to 15 per cent of gas.
Use the small burner whenever possible
Use higher efficiency ‘ISI’ marked LPG stove
Clean burner nozzles to avoid inefficient burning
Use a vessel with base larger than the burner flame
Use shallow vessels as against tall ones
Cover vessel with lid while cooking
Keep cereals and pulses soaked in water for about 20 minutes before cooking
Allow refrigerated ingredients to come to room temperature before cooking them
Add salt during the later stages of the cooking process
Cut vegetables into smaller pieces
Keep ready all the ingredients before lighting the burner
Use only as much water as required
Terracotta vessels retain heat long after the heat is turned off
Try cuisine choices that require
less cooking time
Try solar cookers