Thursday, January 27, 2011

This week in Sewing - Make a Potato Baking Bag

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A good friend (Hi, Grace!) over at Prairie Homemaker mentioned getting someone a baked potato bag for Christmas. I'd never heard of such a thing. Turns out you use it to bake potatoes in your microwave, and they come out fluffy and tender, just like in the oven. I was definitely intrigued, because I love baked potatoes, but often, I hate to heat up the whole oven, especially if I'm just making myself one for lunch. If this works, it would save the energy used heating up a big oven, and I'd have a baked potato at faster microwave speeds. Time to find out!

I did a little research and learned that the fabric, the batting, even the thread must be 100% cotton. Otherwise, you could experience melting and the release of chemicals that you do not want on your potato, or in you microwave. I also learned that if the bag is big enough, you can use it to cook and warm quite a few things, like sweet potatoes, fresh corn on the cob or tortillas. You can even put a bowl of cut-up vegetables inside and it works like a steamer. And when you're not using it for all those things, it's a great hot pad for the table.

I chose a dark fabric, hoping it will look new for a long time. In place of batting, I went to the rag bag and found a 100% cotton t-shirt. I used a portion of the shirt that didn't have anything printed on it, just to be safe.

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I layered the three layers for each side of the bag - a top, batting and bottom - just like making a quilt - and quilted them together on my sewing machine. Remember - 100% cotton thread! Check the label first, of course, but if you're still not sure, light it with a match. If, after it burns, it leaves a little hard tip or small ball, it has synthetics. If not, it's a natural fiber, and very likely cotton. If it is very shiny, it may be rayon or silk. Look for something that's not got a lot of 'gloss' to it. Also, every one I've tested that says 'mercerized' on the label has been cotton.

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I stitched the three layers together about 2 inches apart vertically and horizontally, making squares. Here is the vertical stitching - it probably would have been enough, since the batting is actually woven cotton.

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I hemmed edges as needed, and then sewed the whole deal into a sack, leaving one end open.

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I would give you details if I had them, but really, I just made the quilted fabric, cut them until the two pieces were the same size, then hemmed and sewed until all the edges were nice, inside and out. There's a type of seam where you stitch along fairly close to the edges on the wrong side, then turn the whole thing right side out and stitch close to the edges again, and it seals all the cut ends inside. Whatever that is called, that is what I did. I know. Sorry.

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The resulting sack is about 10x13. I figure it will hold three ears of corn on the cob, possibly four. It should hold tortillas as well...and 4-6 good size potatoes.

So far I have just tried it one time. All the instructions I have seen say that you scrub your potato/potatoes, dry them off (I think just to keep from getting the bag wet), and do NOT prick them with a fork. Put them into the bag, tuck the open end under, and microwave. I did one really big potato, four minutes, then two mintues, then two more (it was big, plus my microwave is not a very strong one). I was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was - very much like an oven baked potato. It wasn't rubbery or tough - it was fluffy and nice! And so, I am very, very happy with my Potato Baking Bag.

Then...while I was snarfing enjoying my potato, I got to wondering....could you just wrap a potato in an all-cotton dish cloth? Perhaps...if the thread at the seams is all cotton too. I may have to try that one day and report back.

3 comments:

Prairie Farmstead Ponderings said...

Well, I imagine that a cotton towel would work ~ but, you know, it wouldn't be nearly as cute as this little potato bag you've sewn up!

These are still on my to-do list...

Ten Things Farm said...

Awww, thank you, Dearie! I am pretty happy with it, and today we used it again. It really does make a difference!

letthismindbeinyou said...

GREAT idea, Laura! I think I'm going to have to make one of these! :D

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