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Credit: Courtesy of Wonderbag

Heat-retention cooking doesn’t exactly sound like something the average home cook might engage in: It sounds more like something that would take place in a lab. But not only is it easy to do, it will actually cook food without heat while you’re camping, tailgating or even in a car on a road trip.

The idea behind heat-retention cooking is actually pretty simple. Just heat food to the appropriate cooking temperature, wrap it in an insulated bag, and the cooking continues even though the pot is off the flame or out of the oven.

Sarah Collins, inventor of the heat-retaining Wonderbag, has mastered this technique. Her discovery came about in 2008, when her native South Africa was in the midst of a series of power cuts. Collins had her aha moment when she recalled how her grandmother had surrounded cooking pots with cushions to retain the heat and allow the cooking to continue.

A friend helped Collins sew up a prototype bag––a cloth outer layer with an inner beanbag-type filling. When they tried it out, they found the food continued to cook and remained hot for up to 12 hours.

>Heat-retention cooking is a useful method for personal and environmental reasons. Besides reducing the time spent hovering over the stove, when a pot is insulated in a Wonderbag, less evaporation occurs, so less cooking water is needed. Careful drivers could stash a Wonderbag in the trunk and then head for the mountains, campgrounds or to a party; during the trip, dinner could be simmering away completely unattended.

Huge companies such as Microsoft are jumping on board. The tech giant has gotten involved with Wonderbag as part of a Verified Emissions Reductions program, essentially investing in green technologies as a way to offset its carbon footprint.

Wonderbags are offered for sale on Amazon, and for every bag purchased, another is donated to a household in Africa. In the past four years, Wonderbags have found their way into more than 600,000 African homes.

Who knows, maybe it’s just a matter of time before we’re all cooking in our trunks.