Saturday, November 8, 2008

Solar Cooking

Some time ago I asked readers if anyone had any information or experience with solar cookers. I'm sorry to say, I got NO HELP from readers. Now I know I don't have a great number of readers, but I find it hard to believe that none of you have any experience with solar cookers! Speak up!

Oh well, left to my own devices again . . .

I looked all over the internet for information on solar cookers, and was excited , but also somewhat disappointed. What I found was that a lot of folks make their own solar cookers.

I played with that idea for a while. After all, all it takes is a large sheet of heavy cardboard, heavy aluminum foil, some glue and a suitable pot. It was at the suitable pot that I met some resistance. While there are a variety of combinations that will work, after some research, we decided the best thing for us would be a Hot Pot Solar Cooker.

So I placed my order and it came within a couple of days.

This set up consists of a foldable piece of highly polished aluminum which unfolds to a mathematically precise oven that focuses the rays of the sun into it's center. Also included is a large glass bowl with a glass lid and a lightweight black metal pot that fits inside of the bowl.

The object of all this is to concentrate the heat onto the black bowl, while trapping the heat inside the glass "oven". Some cookers utilize a black pot inside of an oven cooking bag, which will also trap the heat. For my purposes, I liked the rigid aluminum oven and the glass and metal bowl combination.

For my first try, I had a couple of pounds of inexpensive beef. I took off all the visible fat and added a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and a ton of spices (cumin, garlic, onion, chili powder, basil, etc.). Then I put it all into the black metal bowl.



The day was bright and sunny, warm with nary a cloud in the sky. We warmed the oven up until an oven thermometer read 250 degrees and put the meat on to cook.

Amazingly (to me, at least) within about ninety minutes, the entire pot was simmering away. After approximately four hours, we had seasoned meat.


Everyone agreed hat this was a huge success and I was quite pleased.

Since then, I've baked potatoes, made a pot of beans (that I put on too late in the day, so they required an additional thirty minutes on the stove), and baked an apple bread.

The day I made the apple bread, after about ninety minutes, the sky clouded up and we lost heat, so once again, we had to finish it off in the oven.

Still, I have to say I really like the solar cooker. There is a learning curve, but the pleasure of cooking using the heat of the sun is incredibly satisfying.

As I use it more, if anyone is interested, I'll post some successful recipes.


3 comments:

cantinawest said...

Greetings from sunny St. George, Utah.
I will heartily endorse your feelings about solar cooking.

Just today (Saturday November 8th 2008) my wife,kids and I just had a nice picnic lunch up in the red hills surrounding our community and we cooked everything up in our solar cookers while we were out hiking.
When we got back the food was ready to eat

It's nice to come back to the picnic table and have a meal cooked by the sun while away doing other things.

Your blog especially caught my attention when you mentioned the Hot Pot, since it is one of my favorite solar cookers of the four that I own.
We do all kinds of recipes in our Hot Pot.

In fact I will admit that I do a lot of solar cooking; to the point that I also teach a class on it in our community education program at the local college.
It's great to be able to help people see the possibilities and the practicality of using our sun's energy for cooking.

If I may, I would offer a site that can help out any of your readers who may be interested in learning more about solar cooking.
They can also find info on local solar cooking classes within their own state or community.
The site is http://www.solarcooker-at-cantinawest.com

Thank you for your personal insights and experiences on solar cooking.

Sincerely
Nathan Parry

Nancy G said...

i am a newbie and also rv...we are in arizona and I have had a sun oven for about a week. so far have made brown rice twice, an butternut squash dish (yeah i am veggie) and was gonna try the beer bread today but it got cloudy and we had thunderstorms...awwww. when I learn what i am doing I will tell you the recipes! In the meantime...I like you blog and keep cooking!!!!

photowannabe said...

Sounds like the best way to cook some yummy meals. I love hearing how you experiment and come to some great conclusions.