Solar Oven Accessories Make or Break the Meal
Just as important as prepping the solar oven on a sunny day, or gathering the right ingredients, taking care to have the proper accessories on hand will help ensure a successful culinary venture every time. By selecting the proper cookware, having a good thermometer, using oven mitts, and a dedicated set of utensils, great results do happen. Use the following information when preparing your next meal in a box or panel style oven. Some information also applies to parabolic models.
High on the accessory priority list is a set of solar oven friendly cookware. Choose dark colored pots and pans, preferably black, brown or blue, that are constructed of thin-walled metal. This enhances heat absorption and results in faster cooking times. Be sure to get lids when buying cookware, since they are often sold without them. Try to avoid shiny aluminum or stainless steel cookware, since sun power reflects away from them. Look for glass cookware, or stoneware and graniteware labels. It is very helpful to know the dimensions of the solar oven’s cooking chamber before selecting cookware. This way, a proper fit of pots and pans can be made allowing for multiple course meal preparation.
Also of high importance, is having a reliable thermometer. Many commercial models include them. However, having a good thermometer is essential because it helps gauge cooking time, which is very dependent upon the quality of sunshine. A quick glance at the thermometer allows for checking the oven chamber temperature. Get a good thermometer at a hardware or department store. Also recommended is a meat thermometer, since it checks the specific food temperature and helps verify safe cooking.
Even a novice solar chef knows enough to use oven mitts. Solar ovens often reach 400 degree temperatures, so it only makes sense to don a pair of mitts before reaching inside to adjust a pan, or add something to a pot. When lifting a lids, avoid leaning over pots, as the food inside them may still be boiling, steaming or splattering. Remember that a solar oven really is just another kind of oven!
Utensils are often under-rated. Many times the cook’s favorite dishes help determine what utensils should be dedicated for solar cooking, whether they are kept separately in a drawer or box. If the cook makes lots of soup and stew, then a good quality ladle is essential. For meat dishes, having the right knife is important, as is the proper serving knife for baked items. By having a clean and ready set of utensils, much frustration can be avoided.
If a table or stand is used, caution must be taken to keep it level. Some solar oven models have built-in levelers and most are meant to be used right on the ground. With the food inside and cooking, take special care when refocusing the sun cooker on a table, there is a chance of it falling or a meal-ruining spill happening. Also, bear in mind that the table must be strong enough to support the solar oven containing its load of cookware and food.
Solar oven accessories really can make a difference in successful meal preparation. By regularly using this advice with a box or panel style oven, a new solar cook will likely have better culinary results. Being equipped with the right accessories of cookware, thermometers and oven mitts helps ensure this. With more experience, anyone with culinary-minded enthusiasm will graduate to the safe, environmentally-friendly, go anywhere, cook anything realm of the solar chef.