Unplugging your kitchen means different things to different people. For some, it is about sustainability and cutting back on power-gobbling electrical appliances. For others, it’s about stress reduction. An unplugged kitchen can help you relax while you cook. No machine noise, no complicated washing up; this has many advantages in today’s plugged-in world.
Although kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers should never be unplugged, digital versions of coffee makers, microwaves, food processors and blenders are constantly sucking up energy even when sitting idle. Unplug them when not in use and you should see a drop in your electricity bill.
If you want to eliminate expensive electric appliances such as food processors and blenders, there are simple substitutes. A sharp chef’s knife will cut, chop and dice more efficiently than a kitchen machine. A mortar and pestle will crush and purée while still leaving all the flavour. I prefer the heavy marble ones that are available at kitchen stores and online. A food mill, a basic appliance in your grandmother’s kitchen, will purée smoothly and never make ingredients pasty. And pastry made by hand, not in the food processor, will yield a better result.
Cutting out posh coffee machines, particularly the one-cup-at-a-time ones, means fewer pods in the landfill and less electricity use. Use a stove top Italian drip coffee pot, which makes excellent coffee, and a quick heat of milk to give you any number of coffee variations.
Don’t heat up your oven till you need it and if you have a small amount to cook, a toaster oven is far more efficient. Refrigerators use a lot of electricity, but newer fridges run more efficiently when full, and if you organize by ingredients – all the sauces in one place, the mustards in another – you will know where everything is and not waste electricity while you search.
Pots or frying pans that fit what you make, rather than oversized ones, are also more efficient. If you roast a chicken in a large roasting pan, the results are not as good as using a smaller, more appropriately sized one, which will have more effective heat circulation.
Induction stove tops are the best bet for an energy-saving kitchen. Research has shown that electricity is more energy-efficient than gas, but induction is still the clear winner. With electricity, about 65 to 70 per cent of heat reaches the food; with induction, 90 per cent does, so food cooks more quickly and is on the stove for less time.
Finally, how about using cookbooks instead of your iPad? Cookbooks are much more personal, and when you find authors you like, you know you will be happy with the results.
Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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