Food storage, and even production, is an essential aspect of personal preparedness. We spend hard-earned money shopping for survival food deals and building a prepper pantry. All of that food, of course, requires preparation; i.e. cooking. Let’s look at Seth McGinn’s CanCooker Jr., this article serving as a can cooker review.
I will admit I’m not a great cook. In fact, I’m not much of a cook at all. I love a good meal, I just don’t want to make it. There is value in learning cooking as a life skill, however. I recognize that, and it’s something I want my kids to see me doing, not just my wife. Thus, I’m setting out to pick up more of the household responsibilities for meal preparation.
Enter the Can Cooker Jr. Kit
Following my biggest interests first, my plan is to begin more advanced cooking through two things: the outdoors and meat. This approach, I hope, will hold my interest in cooking long enough for the skills to take hold. It’s also, in part, driven by the fact I live in a household that is 50% vegetarian, so if I want a steak or some chicken wings, I’m in charge of making it happen. This led me to the CanCooker Jr.
The manufacturer markets this product as:
The simplest, healthiest, and most convenient cooking system available. The CanCooker takes the cattle drive tradition of cooking in a cream can and updates it for today’s busy lifestyle.cancooker.com
That’s quite a claim, and a bit of a stretch, but the CanCooker is a unique product, embodying elements of a standard cook pot, a pressure cooker, and an Instant Pot.
It’s particularly well-suited to me because it’s the perfect setup for outdoor/camping cooking. It’s lightweight yet strong, has latches that close over the top for contained storage/transport, and its non-stick interior makes for easy cleanup. Add to that its crockpot-style method of cooking and you have fewer additional dishes to clean. In fact, my first recipe involved just two pieces of cleanup: the CanCooker itself and a set of tongues. Easy!
This kit came with the cooker itself (junior version), seasoning, a rack for the bottom of the cooker, and a cookbook.
Enter Sweet Tangy BBQ Wings
The cookbook has no shortage of meat dishes. In fact, short of a few vegetable sides, the cookbook is all meat dishes. I found this a bit disappointing. Although I wanted to cook meat, I also wanted some dishes that could serve the entire family; i.e. meatless dishes. I’m certain the CanCooker is capable of that, but having a few vegetarian recipes from the outset would facilitate that. I get, however, why the cookbook is lacking vegetarian dishes. The market for this product, I’m sure, is the BBQing meat lover or tailgating party chef. Still, I had a hankering for some wings, and found a recipe for that.
Ingredients – Just Toss ‘Em In
As opposed to having to mix BBQ sauce ingredients in a separate bowl, I was able to throw everything into the cooker and reduce the need for another dish. While that’s not a big deal at home next to a kitchen sink, when I take this unit camping it will make a much bigger difference – one less dish to pack and fewer dishes to carry to the wash station.
The ingredients were swished around for an easy mix while I brought them all to a boil. Then the chicken wings were tossed in.
The wings were cooked for 15-20 minutes with the cover on. Covering the wings in the BBQ sauce was easy, because with the cover on I was able to just toss them around periodically as they cooked. After that allotted time the wings were finished with the cover off so the sauce could caramelize.
Finished BBQ Wings
After another 10 minutes, the wings were finished and ready for devouring. The entire process was ridiculously easy. Where this review happened in February in Maine, cooking outside was less appealing. I look forward to testing the unit with additional recipes during the coming camping season. That is what the CanCooker was designed for, outdoor group cooking. I suspect it will excel in that environment. I’ll find out soon enough.
What I Liked and Didn’t Like
Everything has its pros and cons, and this unit is no different.
It’s great for camping because of its low weight, easy cleanup, and latching cover. I can throw dry ingredients into the can, some utensils, and lock the lid. Nothing will get dumped during transport.
While the unit I reviewed is the “Junior” cooker, it’s still quite large. It has a 2-gallon capacity and you can cram enough food into there to make meals for up to 8 people. The steam cooking of this unit also adds versatility to camp cooking, something beyond grilling and skillets. Tired of tailgate hotdogs and hamburgers? The CanCooker could be the perfect alternative.
This particular CanCooker retails for around $80 for the kit. The cookbook is okay, I didn’t need the seasonings, and the carry bag that it comes with in the kit is flimsy and useless. What I liked best about the kit was the rack that fits in the bottom, but that can also be purchased separately. Just the cooker itself can be had for less (see table below).. Doing it over again, I would skip the kit and just buy the cooker.
I generally prefer stainless steel and – for outdoor cooking – cast iron. Both add significantly more weight than what you will get with the aluminum CanCooker, so the cooker’s aluminum construction is both a like and a dislike.
Buying the CanCooker
The CanCooker Jr., and associated products, can be purchased from the following retailers. If you are purchasing through Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops, make sure to install the Rakuten extension for cash back.
|CanCooker Jr. Kit||CanCooker|
|CanCooker Jr. Kit||Amazon|
|CanCooker Jr.||Bass Pro Shops|
Do you have good or bad experience with this unit? Let us know in the comments section.