Posts Tagged ‘oven thermometer’
Like all passions, sometimes you get so caught up in what you are doing, that you can lose your cool when things go awry. Many times this occurs when you forget something essential. Solar cooking isn’t much different that way. If you have been solar cooking for awhile, you have probably adapted to much that will be mentioned here, but it doesn’t mean you might get a little upset at yourself.
Like the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy now”
Say, you left on a short road trip with your oven(s) and forgot an oven thermometer. That will get you stirred up! We rely on those little devices a lot. But, in most cases, you can overcome that if you have been solar cooking for some time. You have a fairly good idea about how long the food has to be in the cooker. Of course, you can always go by the physical manifestations; is the water/soup/chili, etc., boiling like it is supposed to? It’s almost a no brainer if you are baking bread or a cake, just sample it, right?
Don’t let some of the other things bother you either. For example, like forgetting a certain spice for the recipe; it will just turn out a little different, or, maybe add it after it is done cooking. Maybe you couldn’t find your dark-colored metal pot, well, shiny ones still work, just not as well. Leave it in the sun a bit longer. You don’t have to get ticked off about this stuff. Your next solar cooking experience will make up for it.
And, regarding Ticks, which are becoming more of an outdoor hazard just about anywhere, we have a solution. Try this tick repellent. Those little buggers are getting to be a real nuisance! Stay green!
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.
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.