As a result of last Saturday’s Solar Cook Off, I spent some time this morning talking to Paul Munsen of Global Sun Ovens. My initial reason for talking to him was that I wanted to find out the difference between the older Global Sun ovens and the new All American Global Sun oven. There was one at the cook off and it reached a bit higher temperatures than the older models. However, we ended up talking about all types of solar cooking and this led to some good tips on how to best utilize a solar oven.
Paul said that the glass used in the new All American Global Sun Oven is a low iron glass that blocks less of the sun’s rays and is 25% thicker than on the older models. Other differences include a sighting system that helps you align the oven with the sun. The interior of the new Sun oven is 20% larger than the older models; this allows you to use a 9 x 12 inch pan.
The self-adjusting rack on the inside has been changed to allow it to be taken down and folded to use as a trivet to accommodate different sizes and shapes of pans.
Tips on using Solar Ovens
Many of these ideas came from my conversation with Paul and all will work in the Sun oven, but with a bit of ingenuity many of them could be used in the majority of solar ovens.
Eggs can be hard-boiled without the use of water and fresh eggs will be easier to peel. Just put the eggs in the oven and close the cover.
We use a lot of Graniteware in our oven and love it. But Paul suggested if you have to use a stainless steel or other shiny pan to place a dark cloth over it to keep from reflecting the sun.
The instructions on most freeze-dried or dehydrated foods tell you to add boiling water to rehydrate them. If you are using a solar oven, add 1/3 less water at ambient temperatures instead of boiling. Insert the food in the solar oven and let it heat up. This will rehydrate the food with the use of less water and just the sun for fuel.
The Sun Oven is well insulated and can be used as a Wonder Oven by placing hot food inside, closing the lid and the reflectors. I haven’t tried this yet, but Paul says it works well.
A 3 lb chicken will cook in about 1 ½ hours if you refocus the oven every ½ hour.
Paul says that he has cooked up to an 18 lb turkey in the older Sun ovens in about 5 to 6 hours. To do this you have to take the self-leveling rack out and you put the turkey in a roasting bag and set it on a trivet so that the air can circulate on all sides of the bag. He says the turkey comes out moist and tender and you can’t overcook it.
I asked Paul about the problem of condensation forming on the glass. He said in his experience that if the condensations forms late in the cooking from bottom to top, check your food it is probably done. If it forms early, open your stove and quickly wipe it off. The loss of heat from opening the door will be less than the loss of heat caused by the condensation.
We have been able to cook all types of food in the various solar ovens that we have used, but I must say that while they all have worked, the Sun oven is more user friendly and seems to achieve higher temperatures.
But whatever type of solar oven you have, get out and use it. They will do anything your gas or electric oven will do with a bit of improvising.