More Power

What with the dearth of fruit in the lower Midwest this year, I’ve hardly gotten to do any canning. In fact, this tomato jam is all I’ve done. And that’s a bummer, since I’ve been just looking for an excuse to try out my latest equipment acquisition: my Big Kahuna Burner from Eastman Outdoors. Don’t you can indoors like normal people, Joe? Oh sure I used to. But that was before we moved into our new house which came outfitted with a glass-top electric range. My first instinct was to yank the thing out and replace it with a gas one, but I very quickly got addicted to the electric oven. The steady, even, dry heat was unlike anything I’d ever baked with before (in a home, anyway). And while the cook top took some getting used to, I came to appreciate it for the blazing heat it dishes out with no air gap between flame and pan. I couldn’t let it go. But the canning thing nagged at me. What was I going to do come summer?

As it happened one morning this past spring I found myself wandering around one of those stadium-sized outdoor outfitter stores, agog. I’d come looking for a butterfly net for my daughter (she’s a bug kid) and was flabbergasted by what I found there: 230,000 square feet of, well…everything. Campers, fishing gear, guns, clothes, furniture, a restaurant, live fish streams, a shooting range, toys, automobiles, stuffed animals, boats, tents, shoes, an aquarium-sized fish tank, tools, kites, a waterfall…and then this burner thing. I’d been looking for an outdoor burner to set a wok on (proper Chinese food demands BIG heat, oh brothers and sisters) and suddenly there is was: amid the camping stoves and RV refrigerators, a waist-height high-output burner with a wok sitting atop it. I was stunned. A wok in a hunting supply store? Then it hit me: deer fried rice.

The fellow at the counter was anxious to cut me a deal since they hadn’t moved a single Big Kahuna since the store opened. But what about output? I asked. Will it get really, REALLY hot? The fellow smiled benignly as he glanced down at his monitor and executed a few quick key strokes. The unit is rated at…36,000 BTU’s sir. Well I nearly fainted. Thirty six…THOUSAND BTU’s. To give you a sense for how much heat that is, the biggest bruiser burners from the biggest bruiser commercial cooktops put out a maximum of about 16,000 BTU’s (home ranges around 12,000). This was over double…could such bliss be possible for $59.95? Would you like me to box it up for you sir?

No thank you, I’ll wear it.

That was April and since then it’s been sitting, assembled, in my office where I’ve admired it and occasionally polished it with a soft chamois. Yesterday was it’s first road test, and it was everything I’d hoped for. A BTU, or British Thermal Unit for those of you who might not know, is the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water one degree Farenheit. My boiling water canner holds about five gallons of water. Wide open, the burner had it boiling in under 15 minutes. Here’s an action shot:

Amazing eh? Well…???

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