Sarah Collins (SA) sells over 1 million products: slow cooking, the Wonderbag way

Sarah Collins (48) is one of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs. She sold one million Wonderbags to consumers all over the world. The Wonderbag company was honoured by TIME Magazine as one of the most genius companies of 2018. Forbes Africa recently named Collins’ enterprise a ‘New Wealth Creator On the African Continent’.

The Wonderbag is a unique powerless slow cooker. It continues to cook food, which has been brought to a boil by conventional methods for up to 12 hours, without the additional use of additional. As the Wonderbag website puts it: “No plugs. No fuss. By freeing up time spent cooking, the Wonderbag can make your life easier and transform lives of women in Africa.”

How does it work?

The Wonderbag allows food to be slow cooked or kept warm off of a heat source. It works in four, easy steps: boil it, bag it, stand it and share it. The manual: “To slow cook, simply bring food to the boil on a stove, let simmer, and then put the pot with its lid into the Wonderbag, cinch tightly with the drawstring, and slow cook to perfection for up to 12 hours.” Because it is not on direct heat, it won’t overcook or burn.

The light bulb moment

Sarah Collins describes how she ‘invented’ the Wonderbag in 2008 in South Africa. “I had a light bulb moment during one of our common power outages. I remembered my grandmother taking pots off the stove and wrapping them in furniture cushions and blankets to keep the food cooking. I thought this age-old retained heat cooking method could be used around the world to help eliminate the need for electricity or fuel. I started experimenting, and the first Wonderbag was born.”

The Wonderbag is a very practical device. It works for eco-friendly, nutritious, slow cooking. As it is portable, it is perfect for taking home cooked meals to picnics, dinner parties, sporting events, and camping. A pot of bolognaise or BBQ pulled chicken can simmer in the boot of one’s car to enjoy after a day at the beach or hiking. The Wonderbag is also a very handy inventions for holidays when stove or counter space is at premium.

The bigger picture

But there is a bigger picture. Sarah Collins: “Wood fire cooking is the source of major socioeconomic, health and environmental issues in Africa. By reducing the need for firewood collecting and usage as well as the time spent cooking, the Wonderbag empowers women across Africa to participate in more activities outside of the home enhancing their quality of life. Children have more time to go to school. Families remain healthier due to lower incidence of smoke inhalation related illness, reduced risk of burns and fewer acts of violence occur when collecting firewood. The Wonderbag also has dramatic environmental effects saving water, reducing carbon footprint and minimizing deforestation.”

Give it a try?

The Wonderbag is on sale via the company’s online stores in South Africa, the US and the UK. The product (retail price starting at €47) comes in many great designs. If you want to learn to slow-cook ‘the Wonderbag way’, check out the recipe booklet that provides ideas and guidance. The recommended time for rice/grains is 1 hour; chicken is 3 hours, red meat 4 hours or more. “While the length of time that you cook depends upon the recipe, we recommend boiling until all ingredients are heated through before placing your pot in the Wonderbag. The longer you leave your food to cook, the tenderer it will be. After a few times using the Wonderbag; you will get the hang of it!”

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