Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Solar Cooking

Cooking with a Sun Oven is never easier than in the summer months, when the sun is intense and the days are long.  Temperatures inside my Global Sun Oven can easily reach 350 degrees within around fifteen minutes, and so I can cook a wide range of dishes - sometimes several in one day.

Yesterday, I cooked a batch of applesauce with Granny Smith apples that I scavenged with my friends out in Jones, Oklahoma, and I also cooked potatoes for potato salad that evening. The applesauce was so hot that when I ladled it into jars, it caused the lids to seal (not true canning, but I thought it was impressive). As I made dinner later that night, I realized that I could have also cooked hard-boiled eggs and heated up the black-eyed peas for a 100% solar cooked meal.  If only I had planned better! C'est la vie.

Solar cooking is also more worthwhile during the summer months of May through September. There is less wind or cloud cover, and thus less anxiety about whether the Global Sun Oven will tip over or fail to cook a dish completely. Cooking outside also decreases the heat gain inside my house. Since my air conditioner has a difficult time keeping our house under 80 degrees when it is over 100 degrees out (for example, the entire last three weeks), solar cooking saves energy (and money) on both cooking and air conditioning, and is essential for keeping the house cool on the hottest days.

For this same reason, solar cooking is the only way that I bake in the summer.  I just can't stand to add an hour or more of oven heat to my house when it is 105 degrees outside.  So I use the Sun Oven to bake, or don't bake at all.


While there are many, many things that I can cook and bake in the sun oven, (see Cooking with Sunshine, or Sharlene's blog Mainstream Solar Cooking) here's a short list of my "go-to" sun oven items - items I know will cook quickly, easily, and well:

  • Potatoes
  • Corn on the cob
  • Banana bread
  • Rice
  • Ratatouille
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Applesauce
One thing that I have never tried - but would love to try - is canning in the Sun Oven.  I don't have the confidence to do it, because of the health and safety concerns, but I also believe that it would be a truly useful device for anyone who wants to can when it is inferno-level hot outside, or wants to save on energy costs.  So if you know anyone who would be qualified to conduct rigorous canning trials with a Sun Oven, please encourage them to do so and let me know the results!

1 comment:

SharleneT said...

Thanks for the mention and link! We don't have the intense temps that you do, but I'm not sure about the wind. I use my solar ovens year round. My new SolarChief is so heavy, wind is definitely not a problem. I've just debuted it at the Market and waiting for the Pat.Pending number to come back before a full reveal to the World. But, it's definitely a mainstream oven. You have to scroll to the bottom of my current post to see it.

So far as canning goes, I'm not sure I'd want to try it beyond tomatoes. BUT, you can dehydrate lots of stuff in the Global Sun Oven. They have a set of stacking racks and you purposely keep your oven facing away from the sun enough to maintain a 180F temperature. This year, I've dehydrated almost everything but used my dehydrator to do so. Come visit when you can.