It’s time to turn off the stove, unplug the microwave and pack up the barbecue. There’s a new way to cook, and it uses a less conventional kitchen appliance. Your dishwasher.
‘Dishwasher cuisine’ has been around for decades – it was a fun party trick in the 1970s, and an Italian food writer named Lisa Casali even released a cookbook dedicated to this culinary phenomenon in 2011. But apparently it’s back in fashion, and experts are encouraging us to give it a try.
In a nutshell, dishwasher cuisine involves using heat-sealed containers, such as canning jars and food vacuum bags, to cook food while cleaning a full rack of dirty dishes. There are dozens of recipes available, and people are using their dishwasher to whip up everything from the classic poached salmon to cous cous and even lasagne.
In theory, it sounds a bit like the sous vide method – where food is sealed in a plastic pouch and cooked in a warm water bath over a long period of time. But does it really work? And is it safe?
The answer, according to Australian consumer advocacy group Choice, is yes. They recently conducted an experiment on whether it is possible to prepare an edible two-course dinner in the dishwasher. They made honey soy salmon (and custard with fruit compote for dessert), and when they plated up, they found that the fish had an internal temperature of 53.7°C – ideal from a food safety point of view.
Of course, Choice also notes that while your dishwasher does get hot enough to cook certain proteins and vegetables (most units will reach about 60-65°C), its internal temperature will fluctuate during the cycle. You also don’t get a lot of choice when it comes to temperature settings or cooking time. As a result, you should lean towards foods and recipes that are going to be a little forgiving – for example, meals that are safe to eat if they aren’t totally cooked through.
Dishwasher cuisine may never replace more traditional cooking methods, but it does have a couple of advantages. It means you only have to run one appliance – a good way to save power – and you don’t need to watch over your food as you cook it. Plus, it might be fun!