Five Helpful Tips for Successful Solar Cooking
Once you’re a solar box oven owner, it’s best to begin experimenting with it right away. There are, however, certain methods to follow to help you make the most out of the new cooking experience. Below, are 5 recommendations for achieving success with your new culinary appliance.
1. Pre-heating. Always make it a point to have the oven set-up and heated to at least 150 degrees before setting the pot, pan or dish inside. If you do this religiously with every dish you prepare, failure is harder to come by.
2. Oven thermometer. Having an oven thermometer popped into the back of the oven is quite essential. Most commercial sun cookers either have them built into the appliance or supply one separately. Without knowing the temperature, it will far more difficult to estimate the cooking time per dish/meal. In fact, it’s your best gauge for it. With seasons, shadows, sun angles, and other variables in play that affect solar cooking, no solar chef should be without one.
3. Open the cooking chamber, pot or lid, as little as possible. You may be tempted, especially if you’re an experienced cook, to keep checking the pot. However, we’ve found that many dishes do not even require stirring in a solar oven. It’s been noted elsewhere, that every time the oven chamber is opened, an additional 15 minutes of cooking time is required, since the inside temperature may be reduced by 40 or 50 degrees.
4. Keep your solar oven handy. Solar oven users often keep their oven close by, like outside, already clean since its last use, and covered with a tarp, plastic bag, etc, to avoid moisture. It just makes sense that you’ll likely use it more if it’s nearby and nearly setup. That’s especially true for those of us in areas not so blessed with sunshine and appreciate that gorgeous sunny solar cooking day when it arrives, Summer or Winter.
5. Wear sunglasses. It may seem hard to believe, but donning a visor or ball cap and sunglasses help protect your eyes when placing and removing meals from the solar cooker. The UV rays and normal light off the oven’s reflector are hard on the eyes and especially so as the cooking day wears on.
And there you have it! Keep these 5 points in mind on your next solar cooking day to have a better experience.