Those who save, have for three… In the kitchen, even for thousands. You can save even when cooking spaghetti iRADIO

The world is moving beyond our darkest fears. Usual carelessness turns into wrinkles on the forehead and thinking about how to get out of the energy crisis. It will be necessary to change habits, that is, to learn to save, and this also applies to our cooking. Public gastronomy was already affected by covid restrictions, but pan-European events affected our privacy more than we expected.

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We do not have the ability to influence the unrealistic increase in energy prices, but we can reduce their consumption by tens of percent, which is within our capabilities | Photo: Dagmar Heřtová | Source: Czech Radio

I’m sure you’ll attest that everyone’s talking about cooking these days. From a recent article in The Times, I take the liberty of quoting Nobel Laureate Giorgio Paris as an example. Rest assured, there is still no Nobel Prize for cooking, although the authority of the awarding committee continues to decline, and popular cooking may increase it.

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The award was given to him for physics, because he is a quantum theorist, but despite his profession, he allowed himself a lot. He advises Italians, let’s say Italians!, on how to cook spaghetti. He recommends putting the pasta in a pot of boiling water, bringing the water back to a boil, putting the lid on, and turning the stove off or reducing the heat to low.

The scientist went public with his opinion and started the dance. La Repubblica immediately quoted chef Antonello Colonna in horror: “I don’t think Parisi is a genius in the kitchen, turning off the heat will give the spaghetti a sticky texture.” He was not alone in his opinion, joined by another chef, Luigi Pomata: “Let the chefs let physicists experiment in their laboratories.”

Surprisingly, the Italian temperament is not lacking even among the boring scientists, who heroically defended their colleague. University chemistry professor Dario Bressanini immediately responded: “If you close the pot after turning off the stove, the temperature of the water will still be higher than 85 °C after 15 minutes, and quality pasta will certainly not stick.”

When you boil water in a kettle, heat only the amount of water you need | Photo: Dagmar Heřtová | Source: Czech Radio

Let the Italian professors and chefs argue, they have it in them. Let’s look at the facts presented. The average Italian eats about 23.5 kilograms of pasta a year, and if he uses the recommendations of scientists, he can save up to 47 percent of energy. To give you an idea, that kind of savings would save enough energy in one year to light up European football stadiums for the next 24 years. It seems incredible.

I will certainly not get into an argument about spaghetti and football, I will leave that to the Italians, but I will add that there is a little truth in every joke.

Spaghetti in a pan

It takes courage to change the traditional recipe for cooking spaghetti. Recently, my son recommended that I cook spaghetti in a large, deep pan, as done by his favorite American chef, J. Kenji López-Alt. I countered that it probably won’t go very well, less water, stuck spaghetti and all… I was convinced of the opposite and I don’t cook spaghetti anymore.

It is faster, more economical and will not affect their quality and taste in any way. The trick is to put the spaghetti in boiling water in a deeper, larger pot and let it cook in that position, covered with a lid, until it is al dente. Finally, this method has its other advantages, the water after spaghetti is more concentrated and can be used in sauces or for thickening, where it improves the taste of the food being prepared.

Nvoracious ofloss of energy

Since time immemorial, the kitchen has been the place around which family life revolves. Since the fifties of the last century, the continuous boom in the production of better, more perfect and more necessary kitchen tools, devices, machines and dishes, without which modern cooking cannot exist, begins.

Coffee machines in standby mode consume enough energy without the need to prepare coffee | Photo: Dagmar Heřtová | Source: Czech Radio

It’s nice, but it “eats” so much energy that it’s worth thinking about. About 14 percent of the electricity in every household is used for cooking. Storing fresh food or its frozen form costs us a good 17 percent, and the dishwasher and washing machine “say” another 10 percent. The sum of those three numbers is staggering. We use over 40 percent of energy in our beloved modern kitchen. And that’s more than enough!

What can be done do?

As long as we have things in hand, it’s good. We do not have the ability to influence the unrealistic increase in energy prices, but we can reduce their consumption by tens of percent, that is within our power. Just be careful, think and involve the whole family in the saving process. Even small children, teenagers and partners will understand that saving is not only a trend, but also a necessity, without which joint savings can quickly disappear.

Kitchen activities and energy consumption can have a positive effect on common things. Let’s start with refrigerators and freezers, for example. I don’t think the average household needs a large freezer, wine cooler or ice maker. And do we have any idea how much energy consumption our older refrigerators have? Is it not worth changing for a new one with low consumption, or high efficiency?

Should we have a coffee maker, microwave or food processor on standby? Everything that is unnecessarily included costs us | Photo: Dagmar Heřtová | Source: Czech Radio

Coffee machines, microwave ovens or food processors plugged into the outlet are also energy consumers. Anything that is unnecessarily involved costs us money. It is well documented that in the past it was an annual amount of around 1,000 kroner, as calculated by the British Energy Saving Trust. How much will it be right now? Many times more.

The cooking method is also important. Let’s skip the long-term and consumption-intensive cooking and baking for a while, until the situation on the market calms down. Let’s use the oven for the required temperature and time. Heating food in a microwave oven is faster and cheaper than in the oven or on the stove. When cooking, use the lid, the food will be heated and prepared quickly. The lid can also be used on the pan, the rice can be prepared in the microwave oven in a separate cooker, the investment in it is minimal. Plan what you will cook and take the food out of the freezer in time and let it thaw naturally.

Options There is a lot

When you cook, prepare meals in larger portions. Store well and serve several times. Heating is energy incomparably cheaper than cooking new food.

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You can turn off the oven 10 minutes before the end of baking. During this time, it can maintain the required temperature, the food will still be well prepared and your savings will be significant.

Heat only as much water as you currently need in the kettle. Sometimes you replace baked cakes and desserts with unbaked ones, because there are many recipes for no-baked sweets and they are excellent.

Side dishes often only take a few minutes to prepare. Vegetables are tastier, full of vitamins and give you a nice bite that is not wasted. If possible, cook multiple meals at once and go back to one-pot recipes.

I could go on and on, but there’s no reason.

I don’t want to bombard you with advice that is logical and clear.

I think it is enough to think about what we can influence in the kitchen, let’s do it. We will be surprised how much we can save energy and money by making small decisions, without our home kitchen knowing of any change or even damage.

I wish you a peaceful energy revolution in your Saturday kitchen.

Dagmar Heřtová

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