What is aFarmers’ Handbook, “Inside the House”, Booklet 5, Hay BoxHay Box?The need of today is to conserve, recycle and use resourcesefficiently, and to save waste. Todo this many types of stove havebeen developed and taughtaround the world, in order to savefuel in cooking.One method of cookingwhile saving fuel is called theHay Box. Food such as rice,pulses andvegetables are broughtto the boil on a traditional stove,and then immediately placed in abox packed with straw, and covered. The food continues to cookeven though it is not on a stove,because the heat in the pan isenough to keep cooking the food,while the box and straw stop theheat from escaping. After sometime the pan is removed and thefood is ready to eat.In this booklet we describehow to make and use a hay box out A pan of cooked riceof locally available resources, totaken out of a hay boxconserve fuel use in the home.
Use aHay Box?WhyAdvantages of using the Hay Box Food can be cooked with less fuel (wood, kerosene, gas,electric, etc.) Because food is not boiled for a long time,many vitamins are saved Because pots are in the flames less, theylast longer Less time is spent cooking, so there ismore time for other activities The hay box can be made from local resources It doesn’t require much skill to make and use.HowYou can make a Hay Box in your own home for yourown use. There’s no need for any special skill. In this bookletwe show how to use a traditional bamboo basket to make the“box”. But instead, a wooden box, cardboard box or even anold fridge or drum can be used. The size of the “box” shouldbe about 4-6 inches wider than the width of the pot. Becausein Nepal the bamboo basket is available everywhere, we findthis easiest to use.Materials needed to make a Hay BoxOnce the traditional stove has brought the food to theboil, the packing of the hay box (hay, straw, wool, cottoon,etc) keeps the heat in and this is enough to keep the foodcooking. This may take 10-20 minutes longer than if using adirect flame. In this way, for example, rice is brought to theboil, packed in the hay box and covered. It will continue tocook itself and will be ready in about 20 minutes longer thanon a normal fire.Lid forboxBamboobasket("box")This booklet’s authorChris Evans, advisor,Himalayan Permaculture Group, Nepalwww.designedvisions.com2The Farmers’ Handbook “Inside the House”to make aHay Box ?Cooking potsBooklet 5 - Hay BoxStraw/hay(or wool,cotton)Towel orblanket3
MethodStraw, hay etc. is packed tightly into whatever type of box orcontainer is available. While packing, leave enough space forthe size of pot you will be using. Keep some straw aside tocover the pot later. Keep a towel or blanket ready. The box isnow ready for use.Instead of straw, dried grass, wool or cotton can also be used.Let’s seePack straw tightly intothe bamboo basket.Instead of straw, driedgrass, wool or cottoncan also be used.Once the box is ready, the cooking can begin in the kitchen.Start to cook your usual food, such as rice, vegetables, etc.,on your traditional stove, as you would normally do.In the pictures on the next 4 pages we use the example ofcooking rice in the hay box. But whatever food you are cooking, use the stove just to bring it to the boil. As soon as thefood is boiling it is removed from the stove and placed in thehay box.4The Farmers’ Handbook “Inside the House”How to make theHay Box12While packing, leaveenough spacein the basketfor the pot tobe placed.3Booklet 5 - Hay Box5
4In a few minutes thefood will start toboil. Then, cover thepot and remove itfrom the stove.66In the kitchen,start to cookyour usualfood in theusual way.7Place thewrapped potin the middle of thepackedstraw.85Thencompletelywrap thepot in ablanket ortowel.The Farmers’ Handbook “Inside the House”Pack more straw on topto completely fillthe box.Cover it all withsacking or a blanket.9Booklet 5 - Hay Box7
10Finally, place arock or heavyobject to weighdown the lid.Maintenance11In 20-30 minutes thefood in the pot willfinish cooking by itself. After this, youcan remove the foodwhenever you areready to eat.How to usethe Hay BoxAfter a short while the food in the pot will start to boil.Then, cover the pot and take it off the stove. Then, completely wrap the pot in a thick towel or blanket. Put the pot inthe middle of the packed straw. Cover it with more packedstraw to completely fill the box. Cover the box with a lid, andfinally place a weight on the lid.lid of the boxstraw/hay etc.blanketlid of potfood just boiledstraw/hay etc.basket or box12Here the rice iscookedperfectly.8The Farmers’ Handbook “Inside the House”The food will cook by itselfinside the box in 20-30 minutes.After this, you can remove the foodto eat, or you can leave it there for3-4 hours or until you are ready toeat, and it will stay warm.Booklet 5 - Hay Box9
Inside the box with itslid and tightly packed straw,food cooks and stays warmfor a long time. It works inthe same way that freshlyboiled tea is kept hot for along time inside a thermosflask.Farmers'Mrs ShivakalaExperienceRokayaAnother benefit of using the hay box is that because thefood is not boiled for a long time, vitamins are not lost inover-cooking, so the food is more nutritious.From Humla district capitalSimikot Mrs Shivakala Rokayais a member of JolimungraVegetable Growers Group.She's made and used a hay box let's read about her experience.Another way of saving fuel in cookingJust by keepingthe lid on the potwhile cooking saves a lot offuel. Nutrients in the food arealso saved.GoodFood &HealthyFamily10WhoseResponsibility?The Farmers’ Handbook “Inside the House”æI find this hay box reallyeasy to use and very benefiMrs Shivakala Rokayacial. I can start cooking thengo off to the fields or the forest and just at the time whenI start to feel hungry come home and the food is ready,hot and fresh in the hay box. I boil the rice in the pot andskim off the excess water, then wrap the whole pot withrice and lid in a thick cloth and place inside the hay box,and it's cooked in just half an hour. I reckon that it savesabout the same amount of fuelwood that I'd use to cookthe vegetables each meal. I really likemethods like this, that can make our liveseasier as well as helping to protectthe environmentÆBooklet 5 - Hay Box11
Subjects Related to the Hay BoxGood benefits can be had from the information in thisbook about the hay box. However, this information is alsolinked to other methods. For extra benefits let’s read, learnand practice from other related chapters.Hay BoxChapter Improved StoveChapterDiet and NutritionChapterIn Nepal 95% of households use firewood forcooking food. Everyoneknows the effects of toomuch smoke in the kitchenbut what todo ? Now let’slearn about aneasy andsuccessfulmethod.Many diseases can beprevented by a healthydiet, In this chapter,information is givenabout the benefits provided bydifferenttypesoffood.Grihasthi CommunicationsRead On !
lid of the box After a short while the food in the pot will start to boil. Then, cover the pot and take it off the stove. Then, com-pletely wrap the pot in a thick towel or blanket. Put the pot in the middle of the packed straw. Cover it with more packed straw to completely fill the box. Cover the box with