The Norwegian pot, the ecological cooking that makes the Thermomix obsolete
Even a cocotte can be packed to keep them warm. This is the principle of too little known “ norwegian pot » : cook with little electricity, without supervision and you can do it yourself. “ It takes a crazy mental load ! No need to monitor anymore. And the result is always perfect »enthuses Alexandrine when she talks about the mn (the acronym used by insiders), who has been practicing for fifteen years. The principle is very simple: bring the saucepan, saucepan or any other saucepan to a boil on the gas or electric stove ; let it boil for a few minutes ; finally we place the dish in the famous “ pot » — a highly insulating container that maintains the heat and allows you to continue cooking slowly.
“ No one in the family is more “slave” to long cookingnotes Domitille, converted for only five months. If we want to make a casserole for a Sunday night, my husband and I no longer need to stay in the apartment and watch. Boil for a few minutes, put it in the mn and we can all go for a walk. No gas, so no risk. »
- The principle: place a saucepan in an insulated box so that it continues to cook for a few hours. Low-Tech Lab / CC OF 4.0
Stews with or without meat, vegetables, legumes, cakes… Fans explain how to cook almost anything with this device. “ I use it pretty much every time I cook longer than five minutes. I make plain rice, soups. I adapted dishes I love, like Lebanese-style lentil rice, to cook with », explains Marleine, a recent user. Sophie uses it to cook ratatouille or apples, and “ even puree for my cats ».
Still classified, this cooking system has been around for a long time. “ The principle of mn dates back to the dawn of time. In my opinion, as soon as earthenware containers for cooking food appeared, people began to try to keep the heat away from the fire. », believes Mireille Saimpaul, the great Norwegian weed specialist in France. You created the blog Marmite-norvegienne.com in 2011 and published a book in 2013, two Bibles of mn.
Twelve minutes of gas for dishes that had to simmer for 1h30
Depending on the food, the pre-boil time varies. 5 minutes is sufficient for most vegetables, but meats or legumes require 30 minutes of simmering on the stove before placing the pot in the pan. mn where it will cook slowly for 2 to 3 hours. Energy savings remain undeniable. “ At first I was dubious, but I cooked with only 12 minutes of energy (gas) dishes that had to simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes or more ! »Domitille rejoices. “ Depending on the dishes, you can save at least 50 % Power »assures Mireille Saimpaul on her site.
The three signatories of a recent column published in The world I am convinced: “ Using a Norwegian pot is the way to save money without deprivation… » For them, Norwegian pans, like solar thermal, should equip all kitchens, especially those of precarious workers. “ Knowing that the self-construction of these pans can be done in an hour or two with recycled material from waste collection centres, social and solidarity economy and circular economy actors could help implement these cooking methods. »
- To insulate you can use wool, T-shirts with holes, recycled foam and… bags of woodchips to reflect the thermal radiation. !
It was for reasons of economy that Marleine acted two months ago: “ I went to get my gas bottle refilled, it took five euros since last time. I had seen articles about the fireless stove before. I implemented it that day. » Cardboard, newspaper, a wool blanket, a cotton sheet and a plaid to wrap it all up… it didn’t take long to make his mn.
Cat house, basket, fabric… no vase is alike
With a little time and ingenuity, anyone can be successful. Some people recycle a cat bed or trash can as a container, others an old refrigerator or just fabric. To each his own pot, no two are alike. Domitille says she made it with fabrics and a blanket she didn’t use or was about to be thrown away. “ It is a bit particular and opens completely to transform itself into a tablecloth that can also be used for summer picnics, with a block of ice to store food ! » Céline, who has been using this process for about six months and making them for her loved ones, makes them from upholstery fabrics and stuffs them with sheep’s wool. As for Alexandrine, she invested ten years ago in a nice sturdy basket with handles. The insulation is made from recycled foams and “ potato chip bags for the reflective side ».
- The chest is lined with a survival blanket, which reflects heat. Low-tech lab tutorial
“ You have to experiment. As with all low-tech, you need to invest a little upfront to understand how it works and be able to use it well. », points out Benoît Bride, engineer in energy and environment, and creator of a consultancy company around low-tech and permaculture in the Jura. His cooking pot, he made it in wood and with an octagonal shape that adapts to all his pots. For the insulation, he used polystyrene and scraps of renovation materials from his house: cellulose wadding, wood fiber, cork.
The reflective film test to improve insulation
The choice of materials is important. Benoît tells his story “ pellets » during a first experiment. The fleece blanket he’d had the bad idea to use melted. Air is also the enemy of slow cooking. “ You need as few gaps around the pan as possible to avoid thermal bridges. This is the same principle as with the frame », explains the engineer. Recently, he wanted to test with a thermal probe whether adding an infrared-reflecting film could further improve the insulation of his box. To this he added a polyethylene survival blanket that is resistant to over 200°C. Final result: “ The initial drop in temperature is much slower: it takes almost 45 minutes to go from 98°C to 85°C, instead of 10 minutes without the blanket. »
“ As with all low-tech, you have to experiment »
Maintaining a high enough temperature is essential. “ It is known that bacteria preferentially grow at a temperature between 63°C and 10°C, writes Mireille Saimpaul. With fresh ingredients of good origin, if the dish stays no longer than two hours mnbacteria are unlikely to find a good inn there. » In addition to this, it is recommended to reboil, especially if it is meat.
“ Anticipation to free us from time in a society of immediacy »
Won over, the users of the pot find no real drawback, except its size: a wooden box can be cumbersome in an apartment, for example. This was a big inconvenience for Domitille, who fixed it by doing a mn soft fabric, which can store easily.
Of course, having a pot implies organizing yourself differently, better to anticipate. This anticipation of cooking is just part of lifestyle changes “ particularly desirable to address the ecological crisis »according to the authors  from the podium of WorldWhy “ it teaches us to free ourselves from time in a society of immediacy ». Finally, the Norwegian pot would also rehabilitate long-cooked foods, such as legumes “ that they allow us[tent] get the protein intake you need without having to eat too much meat ».
Why is the pot so called ?
The isothermal box technique is very ancient and was not born in Norway. In History of the kitchen without fire or almost… The kitchen without fire over the centuries (released in 2015 and now available in version PDF), Mireille Saimpaul tries to trace its origin: “ Jewish tradition reports that tricks already existed to preserve the heat of dishes cooked on Shabbat. Most often, the container containing the hot pot was placed in a basket filled with hay. » The practice of “ box of hay » persisted in the countryside. In English, the mn is indicated among other things by box of hay (box of hay) or stove without fire (cooker without fire). It is mainly in France that we use the term “ norwegian pot ». Mireille Saimpaul explains it: during the Universal Exposition of 1867 in Paris they were exhibited “ Norwegian automatic cookers » which caused a stir. From there the term was born.