My search for the perfect yogurt incubator is over.
Meet Wonderbag, a portable slow cooker. It made its puffy, boldly colorful appearance at our house after I saw it in action at a friend’s place. I love it. The Wonderbag is a heat-retention cooker: you can bring any slow-cook recipe to a boil on a stove, then pop it inside the bag where it continues to cook because of the bag’s foam insulation. No plugs or gas involved — in other words, less fossil fuel use per every meal! And because of the same insulating capacity, the bag can be used for any project that requires maintaining a steady temperature, such as yogurt, which needs to be kept at about 110 F for a few hours. I don’t have a gas oven with a pilot light I could use, so in the past, I’ve used a plastic camping cooler filled with hot water. But that’s a little bit of a hassle and splashing around in the kitchen, and heating the water for it and monitoring the temperature is yet another thing to think about while and after making the yogurt itself. But now, with the Wonderbag, I made my yogurt batch, stuck the jars inside the bag, and ta-da — a few hours later the yogurt was done.
Plus, the Wonderbag company is cool in more ways than one (and no, I don’t have any kind of an affiliation with them, I just think they are a pretty fantastic enterprise). For every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in Africa. If saving water, fuel, and time is energy-efficient and time-efficient in my kitchen in the affluent US, you can imagine that it can be utterly life-changing in many a kitchen in Africa. Less firewood used means less deforestation and less time spent (usually by women and girls) walking long distances to haul firewood. That, in turn, means better chances for those girls to get an education instead, and less risk of assault or rape while foraging for wood. Lastly, the Wonderbag helps to reduce health risks related to coal ovens, smoke and fire. How’s that for a social, economic and ecological impact of a single product? No wonder that Wonderbag founder Sarah Collins was named a Top 10 finalist for “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” by Fortune Magazine.
I can’t wait to try the Wonderbag for other things — oatmeal, stews, vegetable stocks etc. If you end up getting one, let me know how you’re using it!