Kitchen (5m 05s)

The principle for the kitchen chapter is to add value, prepare, ferment or preserve all food on site. All of the chapters up to now have been building up to harvest time. Now, we collect our harvest and enjoy.

What is added value?

A kilo of carrots is worth X units at the market.

A kilo of carrot juice may be worth four times that much, 4X or more.

A kilo of dried rice is worth X units at the market.

A kilo of cooked rice may be worth four times that much or more.

While the earth produces the original value of things, we can make them more valuable. And we call this added value.

What is a kitchen?

A kitchen is a place used to prepare, ferment or preserve food. It is the end-stage of the garden: the place where plants and animals become food. Kitchens are also one of the most visible reflections of the community’s way of life: what they eat and how they cook it.

Kitchen elements

One strategy for basic kitchen design is to place your refrigerator, stove top and sink within a few meters of each other. This triangle shape keeps the most often used areas of the space within reach.

Cob oven

A cob oven is a fuel-efficient method of baking. Cob has high-insulating properties so the heat recirculates upon itself and puts all that good wood smoke and wood taste into the food.

[omitted in video, How to make a cob oven

General steps to making a cob oven:

  • Choose a place with good ventilation, near your kitchen. Build a base with earth, rocks or bricks until you reach the desired height,
  • Arrange flat stone(s) to be the base of the oven. On top of the flat stone, mound wet sand in the shape you want the oven and cover the sand with wet newspaper
  • Lay an even layer of cob, about 5cm, on top of the sand
  • Cover to protect from rain and sun, it could crack if it dries too fast. Let it dry overnight. Once the cob has dried, dig out the sand from the door opening
  • Once you pull out all the sand, make a fire inside to burn off all the newspaper, and then make a fire and cook a pizza!
  • Look online for many other cob oven designs]

Rocket stoves

Rocket stoves are a common fuel-efficient stoves design. It’s generally an L shape, and can be made with various types of materials, including: tin cans, tin, aluminum, steel pipe, etc. First, make the interior ‘L’ pipe 3-6” in diameter. The build another rings after the first L, and pack the middle with an insulating material like cob, sand, dirt or any other insulating material. Then a small shelf on the bottom part of the L to create airflow. Put wood on the bottom. Leave a small space for air to escape at the top, between the pot and the stove. This is the basic design of a rocket stove.

Rocket bread oven

One design variation is a rocket bread oven. This uses the same rocket stove design but using larger 55-gallon (200 L metal) barrels to bake bread or other baked goods. This concept came from Capturing Heat, design manuals for rocket stove designs. from Aprovecho, in southern Oregon (

Solar oven

Solar ovens work great on sunny days. It’s an insulated box covered with a sheet of glass, with reflective material on each side. There’s also a parabolic design where a pot is suspended in the middle of a parabolic structure, like a satellite dish.

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Hay box

A hay box is a highly insulated box used for keeping things hot for a long time. It can be as simple as a 200-liter metal drum, filled with sand, straw, heavy blankets, or any other dense material. To cook rice using a hay box, first, boil the rice and water on the stove. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes then remove it from the heat and put it in the hay box for 30-45 minutes. Once you finish cooking the rest of the meal, the rice is ready.

Clay refrigerator

The Zeer pot refrigerator is a clay pot filled with wet sand, then capped with a smaller pot inside and topped with a good fitting clay top. This refrigerator has proven to extend the life of crops 10 times compared to traditional storage practices.

Results of using a Zeer pot versus normal shelf life (test case in Sudan from Zeer pot website):

Produce                   Shelf-life without a Zeer                                                    Shelf-life using the Zeer

Tomatoes                                                    2 days                                                                             20 days

Guavas                                                         2 days                                                                             20 days

Okra                                                              4 days                                                                             17 days

Carrots                                                         4 days                                                                             20 days

Rocket                                                          1 day                                                                               5 days

Plate-washing station

A 5-bowl washing system saves a tremendous amount of water. In the first bowl, you rinse off food residue. In the second bowl, wash your dish with soap and a sponge. In the last three bowls rinse off the soap.

Cleaning note: You can clean just about anything with these three items:

  • Lemon/lime
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda


Nature builds it up, fermentation breaks it down. Humans have been fermenting longer than we’ve been writing words or cultivating the soil. Fermentation is how we break nutrients into more easily digestible forms and make them last longer. This process converts sugar to acids, gases and alcohol… natural preservatives that retain nutrients and prevent food spoilage. They are a powerful aids to digestion and protection against disease. Bill Mollison calls the action of fermenting foods “a form of pre-digestion.

I highly recommend the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz to anyone wanting to learn about fermentation. The book includes many simple recipes like how to make kombucha, honey wine, beer, kimchi, tempeh or sourdough to name a few.

Recap of this chapter:

Added value is good because pizza is better than bread and bread tastes better than flour. Kitchens make cooking food more efficient. And we want to include as many energy efficient elements and appliances to conserve fuel and time

For fermentation, you can ferment anything. Fermentation makes food easier to digest.


For our designs, how would you lay out your kitchen? Which elements would you want to install?

What kinds of food would you want to ferment?

Okay, this concludes the Kitchen chapter. Thank you for your time.