Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hot Pocket Cooking: A Failed Attempt

A few months ago I had what I thought was a great idea: what if there was a way to use Hand Warmers to heat food.  I wanted to take a common item found in most ski shops, and re-purpose it to create a mini-oven in my jacket pocket.  My thinking behind this madness was that I could eat a warm quesadilla on a chairlift, thus making my friends jealous of my ingenious creation and allowing for more time spent on the hill and less in the lodge.
Test quesadilla #1

I started to research Hand Warmer cooking.  I wanted to make sure that the Hand Warmers were non-toxic (which they are) and search for any other information on Hand Warmers and food. I found a few videos and gear reviews that suggested using the sticky boot warmers on the outside of a mug to keep liquids warmer longer, or to use hand warmers to warm propane stoves when winter camping.  However, no luck finding any information that would help with my makeshift pocket oven.

Since there was no information on this revolutionary concept, that meant that I had to go out and do some field testing.  On a snowy Tahoe day I opened a package of Hot Hands hand warmers and put the pair in my jacket pocket.  I had discovered online that most cheese melts at 90 degrees fahrenheit, so my goal was to see how many hand warmers it would take to make my pocket 100 degrees (just to be safe).  I started off with two, then went to four.  However, I quickly learned that the porous lining in my pocket was no help for holding in heat.  Duly noted.  I needed a way to trap heat in my pocket, or I had to use a different jacket with thicker pockets.

Placing the quesadilla with hand
warmers on each side into my
jacket pocket.
Before switching jackets I decided to try a direct approach.  I made a quesadilla using brie cheese (I wanted to test a soft cheese that melts easily) and wrapped it in a thin layer of aluminum foil.  I placed a hand warmer on each side of the quesadilla and placed the food and heat back in my pocket.  After 45 minutes I removed the quesadilla and used a thermometer to test how much the cheese had melted.  In the spots where the hand warmer was directly against the quesadilla the cheese warmed to 93 degrees, and did in fact melt.  However, the distribution of heat throughout the quesadilla was uneven, and the part that was not directly against the hand warmer was only 68 degrees.  I definitely don't want a blotchy quesadilla, I'm on the pursuit of gooey, cheesy perfection!  Back to the drawing board....

Be sure to read the next installment of "Hot Pocket Cooking", where I will hopefully find a way to enjoy warm quesadillas while riding a chair lift.  And in the meantime.... check out for outdoor recipes and series episodes!

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