Posts Tagged ‘solar ovens’
What can’t you cook with your solar stove? Maybe you’ve found yourself “lost” with where to go with your solar cooking. You have tried this dish or that one, baked breads and some soup. So , what’s next?
After all, there are so many ways to use one. Also, you should consider the different solar cooker designs. Is it parabolic, evacuated tube, box cooker or panel cooker? If you have several models, then the fun really begins with your solar powered ovens. Maybe you use several and prepare a great solar feast for family and friends. Of course, that’s another relevant concern; the number of folks that need fed on that bright sunny solar cooking day.
Use your solar cookers in different ways. You can bake, boil, steam and dehydrate many kinds of food with them. Perhaps you have concerns over healthy food choices, or want to prepare vegetarian meals. You can do this with a solar oven. Most double box solar ovens work similarly to a slow cooker (crock pot). It may take hours to to prepare solar cuisine in them, but usually, it’s well worth the wait, because the foods cook in their own juices. The result is great flavor!
With a parabolic cooker, your soup or meal may take only a few minutes! You will need to be a wary solar chef and keep your eye on the meal as the sun rapidly cooks the food. The evacuated tube model cookers are wonderful. Your meal usually doesn’t take more than an hour to prepare in good sunshine. Hotdogs, vegetables, and other light foods may only need a 30 minutes or less. You can easily warm up leftovers in these very efficient models. The really great thing about your outdoor solar oven, is that it becomes your way of being “green”, without much effort.
Portability is another important factor in using your solar cookers. Some box cookers weigh many times as much as a few evacuated tube cookers and panel cookers. So, if you are hiking or camping, weight may become an issue. Maybe you are a survivalist; a “prepper”. So many of these folks are using solar cookers and solar ovens because they realize how practical they are in an emergency situation.
Oh yes, it’s easy to get confused about the direction you want to take with solar cooking. Why? Because there are just so many wonderful choices! Follow your own path to making some great solar dishes. If you really get “lost” out there, maybe you only need a better compass.
As an avid solar chef, sometimes it is really difficult to find that time for your solar- powered passion. Then, once you have found a few hours on a sunny day to create your newest delectable solar cuisine, it seems like the day just flew bye. It did! So, the answer is to “milk” out that time, that is; make the most of it. This way, everyone will have a better time.
To better utilize this cooking “event”, try taking only a few minutes during the week to plan your solar meals. It might be a weekday or the weekend when you do this. It will depend on your schedule. We are all busy people these days. Remember to jot down with the planned meal, any essential ingredients that you may need to pick up at the market. If you already like to cook, solar or otherwise, your cabinets and refrigerator are probably stocked with most needed items. Also, as mentioned in our previous posts, consider checking the weather report for the week to better plan your set up time for the solar cooking.
One other way to enhance the solar cooking day is to consider the solar ovens to be used and know how many will be at the table. If you have more than one oven or cooker, you can cook up a storm! Of course, depending on the other factors we have mentioned, which solar cooker you use for what food, can make a difference.
For those survival enthusiasts who cannot get enough “milk”, try out this stuff to get you through it.
Oh the variety and solar oven designs out there these days! You can get a parabolic that will have your ham & cheese sandwich done in seconds, or burnt to ashes if you don’t watch it. The wonderful evacuated tube models can sometimes cause food to suffer similarly, if you don’t mind them. For some panel cookers, especially depending on your latitude, you may be waiting awhile for thorough cooking. Don’t get me wrong, all these models serve their purpose very well!
With a double box solar oven, it is very difficult, to impossible, to burn any food. The other advantage of a big solar oven, like a box style cooker, is the generally large cooking chamber. If properly focused, and with plentiful sunshine, the box cooker usually only requires a few hours to prepare a typical meal. Depending upon the model, you can usually get a couple pots of food cooking simultaneously. This allows for bigger portions and servings for family and guests. This is an advantage not always used, especially if you may be hiking on a trail alone, on the beach with friends, or simply your back patio.
The other great advantage of a solar box oven, is that often the pots or baking pans can be stacked in the cooking chamber. For example, you may have a 3 quart pot of stew in there, but can also set a 9 inch baking pan, or cookie sheet into the chamber. It’s great! You can have your main course as well as dessert!
With some big solar ovens, like the Solavore Sport, three items, sometimes four, can be cooking: two, 3-quart pots plus the aforementioned cookie tray, baking pan, bread pan, etc. It’s easier than you may think to accomplish this.
Here’s how it can look in the Solavore Sport Oven:
In this oven, it’s easy to stack up the trays, plates, pots and pans. While remaining a light-weight and very portable solar oven, this model has a large chamber to cook loads of food simultaneously. Here’s how it all turned out:
So, if you have a large, double box solar oven, give stacking a fair try. Sometimes it takes more than one chance to be successful. But the rewards of cooking several meals at the same time are really enjoyable.
Some folks use a number of solar ovens and solar cookers in combination on a good sunny day. That way, they can cook and prepare the food for storage, or near future consumption or freezing it.
For today’s menu, we simply used the GoSun Solar Stove to bake the Italian hot sausage with peppers, onions and mushrooms.
Sometimes the food comes out of the solar ovens so well, you feel like applauding!
So, crank up your solar cooking by using more than one cooker to make great meals. If you fail to crank up solar cooking, then try a crank radio or flashlight. They can help you when the power fails.
Some of us really love solar cooking, don’t we? Yes, whether you are a newcomer, or an old hat that’s been cooking with sunshine for decades, each one includes it in their own, hopefully, “green lifestyle”. We search for new recipes like we’re hunting bear, try out new ingredients in old dishes, and, if we’re not too meek, invite friends, family and neighbors over to be the latest “guinea pigs” for our newest solar cuisine.
We have become passionate about our solar cookers. We seek out new methods to use them. Some use them to dehydrate their food for long term storage in case of food shortages. Some of us teach others how to use them in survival scenarios.
For many in the Third World and other nations across the globe stricken by war and catastrophe, the solar oven is a life saver. Getting more panel style and box style cookers into the hands of the poor across the world is actually a mission of several of the commercial solar oven manufacturers. Much less dangerous, and certainly healthier, than smokey wood fires, solar ovens help provide the cooked meals and nourishment needed for so many living in impoverished countries.
So, why not make solar cooking your passion? It’s relatively inexpensive to get started and their are loads of resources, groups and blogs (like this one) that can help you get educated and launched into solar cooking. You’ll find how easily you can get “hung up” on sun cooking.
And, speaking of getting “hung up”, here is another way to live your green lifestyle. There are an amazing number of low-cost and clever clothesline/dryer racks out there. They make it easy for you to maintain a green lifestyle in just one more way. While your solar oven bakes the meal, you hang up your wash and let the solar powered “dryer” do the rest! Take a look at this:
Sometimes using your solar cooker on a windy day can be a real challenge. Of course, that mostly depends on the style or model of solar oven that you are using. Certainly, some are more stable in the wind than others. Many box style solar ovens, like the SunFocus, All American Sun Oven and the Solavore Sport Oven, do very well in light to moderate wind conditions. These models feature sturdy aluminum reflectors attached to the “box”, and can usually handle the wind.
And speaking of windy conditions, many homeowners are discovering the benefits of a home wind generator. As of this writing, the 30% tax credit is still in place for alternate energy improvements. If you are sure you live in a windy region, a wind generator makes perfect sense as an addition to your home power system. In case you are doubtful about your local wind, you can find out how eligible your area might be for wind generation by visiting the government’s website: https://nationalwind.org/, or www.dsireusa.org. Many kits are surprisingly affordable, and may supplement your current electric and reduce, and in some instances, eliminate your electric bill. Look at this one by Aleko:
Many small wind generators, like the one in the video, qualify for the tax credit. If you are interested, it “pays” to do the research. Also, many wind generator kits only require common tools for assembly. Don’t let this blow by you, if you think you are a wind generation candidate.
Don’t forget to bring in that solar oven if the wind speed gets too high!
As has been proved and demonstrated by many, a solar oven or solar cooker, can be a life saver in a survival situation. Recent world disasters, such as the tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, have made the solar cooker a godsend to thousands of homeless people enduring such tribulation.
Having a reliable survival knife, often with numerous helpful features, is another item that should be included in the survival kit. Not only will it help with food preparation for using the solar cooker, but it has a great variety of other uses.
A survival knife worth its weight, will help you set up camp, prepare game, build an emergency shelter, help in food preparation, and even start a campfire. A number of great survival knives exist and many can be had for $20 to $50. Often, features include different blade edges for different uses and a built-in, usually magnesium, fire starter. Typically a sheath is included. Let Bear Grylls, survival expert, tell you about one he has developed.
Find an ultimate survival knife to add to your emergency supplies. Learn to use it with your solar oven.
Solar ovens are meant to be used. So, plan ahead for the next sunny day that comes along. Have your recipe and ingredients ready for preparation. Get your solar oven out to “play” with it. Make sure it is clean and ready for service. Different styles and models of solar ovens require different cleaning methods. However, most manufacturers usually recommend cleaning the solar cooker with hot soap and water. No harsh chemicals are needed.
Cleaning the oven outdoors is usually easier with the help of a plastic basin, a sponge and some towels. In no time at all, your sun oven will be “at the ready” and able to serve you when the sun comes out.
Oh sure, we understand, many people will set their solar oven on a stand. That way, they do not have to stoop down to refocus, or stir the pot, etc. For those of us who like to take our solar cooker camping and hiking however, it is sometimes a bit much to bring along the whole patio and a stand.
Best of all, should you really not want to let the grass grow under your solar cooker, just make sure you mow the lawn! To be “green” about it, try taking out your new reel mower to cut the grass. You’ll get a good workout, get the chore done, all while your favorite solar oven is preparing some tasty food.
The simple baked potato can nearly be a meal in itself. Baking potatoes, was something we discovered long ago at the beginning of our solar cooking days, to be a healthy and simple way to enjoy our sun oven.
It’s easy to prepare about a half-dozen medium sized potatoes in the 3 quart roaster. You know why to use it; because it’s a dark colored thin walled metal pot, that will trap the maximum heat energy. Pour enough water into the pan just to completely cover the bottom, no more than 1/2 inch deep. Put the lid on and then place the oven at your favorite spot in the yard, patio, etc. and let the sun do the rest. How easy is that? Can you see why solar ovens are often promoted as a survivalists’ favorite appliance?
With a strong sunny day, no more than 4 hours will be needed for the potatoes to bake in most solar ovens. Just remove and slice them open. They come out moist and delicious. Top them with margarine or butter, a dash of salt( or salt substitute), broccoli and cheese, chives (often preferred by our guests), or some cayenne pepper, bacon bits (or the cereal substitute) or whatever your family and guests prefer. Serve a simple garden salad with this and you’ve got a fine meal. Keep that brimming sunny smile and special place in your heart while enjoying your solar cooking day.
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.