What’s a good solar oven? The one that you have! You might have already discovered that there are all sorts of solar oven cookers out there, including methods to do it yourself – to make your own.
There’s nothing like utilizing the free energy from the sun! There comes a satisfying feeling of self-sufficiency whenever you can harness natural energy sources outside of the grid. And a solar oven cooker is one of those things…
I don’t care what climate you live in, there will be a part of the year when you can utilize a solar oven to do the cooking. Not only is it rewarding and ‘free’ to use (other than buying or building one), it is a great alternative source for cooking preparedness.
A solar oven is a slow cooker. Simple as that. Whatever you might cook in a ‘crock-pot’ will cook just fine in a solar oven. You can even bake your own bread in one.
How hot does a solar oven get?
Most any solar oven will easily get up to around 200-degrees-F during a sunny warm day. Many solar ovens will also have no problem getting above 212-degrees (the boiling point) and upwards towards 250-degrees, depending. A well designed solar oven (and some professionally made solar ovens) will get up to 350-degrees-F (or thereabouts) just like a real oven…
Note: Comparatively, a typical crock-pot will cook in the range right around boiling, low 200’s.
Note: As long as the cooker is at 165-degrees or above, the cooking is ‘safe’ – even to cook meats. Although when cooking meats, caution is advised if the temperature drops below 165-degrees for awhile due to cloud cover, etc… (due-diligence with the weather forecast ;) )
Here at the MSB household we have been using solar ovens for many years when the weather permits. It’s fun to stay in practice by using it once in a while during the weekends when the weather is right.
How do you cook with a solar oven?
It’s so easy. All you do is add whatever it is that you’re cooking to a covered pot or pan (one that fits inside the solar oven while allowing the glass cover to close). I have found that adding a bit of water in the pan with the food will really help for baking potatoes or other vegetables. Or you can just throw together some sort of ‘stew’ or casserole.
Note: It’s best to use a black pot with a black cover in order to more effectively absorb the sun’s rays which convert to heat.
Unless you have a solar oven that’s putting out heat in the 300-degree range, you can mostly set it and forget it (because it’s a slow-cooker and won’t burn the food). However, for optimum cooking you will have to turn the solar oven after several hours to keep alignment with the sun.
Note: During the summer months when the sun is very high in the sky, there is less of a need to turn the solar oven except for early or late hours during the day.
How long does it take to cook food in a solar oven?
The general answer is at least several hours (2 -4). The time it takes to cook in a solar oven is no different from how you would cook inside while using a crock-pot slow-cooker. With that said, if you do have a high-efficiency solar oven (e.g. the ‘All American Sun Oven’) then your cooking temperatures will likely be higher which will shorten your cooking time quite a bit (you could actually overcook food if you’re not careful).
With that said, generally speaking with a typical solar oven you could put out your pot of stew after lunch and it will be ready for your 5PM dinner.
Note: If you’re cooking pot is not covered, excess moisture will escape and prematurely dry out your food and/or excessively fog up the inside of the solar oven glass.
Your experiences with a solar oven?
Let’s hear from you…