Now that the seasons are changing in many areas, solar cooking safety becomes a bit more of a challenge with cloudy weather, cooler temperatures and shorter days. A good rule to follow for most solar cookers, especially homemade ones is that you can solar cook when the length of your shadow on the ground is shorter than your height. This is an indicator that the sun is high enough in the sky to effectively cook. Some well-designed solar cookers with tall rear reflectors are efficient enough to be used when the sun is lower in the sky.
My Solar Sun Oven will let me cook under worst conditions than the homemade one I have manufactured. On a good day my homemade box ovens reach 250 degrees, my sun oven will reach over 400 degrees. When the conditions are not as good, the Sun oven will still reach higher temperatures than the homemade ones.
In the winter, my ovens will not always reach their maximum temperatures or hold them as long. This requires that you pay a bit more attention to solar cooking safety.
Solar Cooking Safety Guidelines
- Get a good thermometer to measure the temperature in your oven. You can buy oven thermometers in almost any super market quite inexpensively.
- When cooking meat, fish or poultry use an accurate probe thermometer placed in the center of the meat (not touching bone) to be sure it has reached a safe internal temperature.
- Beef, veal, and lamb need to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Pork and ground beef needs to reach an internal temperature of 160 Degrees. Poultry needs to reach 165 degrees.
- The danger zone at which the growth and multiplication of pathogens can occur is between 40 to 140 degrees according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s food safety guidelines.
- Foods should not remain in the danger zone for more than a couple of hours. Don’t leave your food in the solar oven for long periods of time at lower temperatures.
- If the sun is hidden behind clouds or it is getting late, you may need to go to an alternate method of cooking to finish.
- The wind can cool a solar oven. If it is windy, build a windbreak.
- On cooler days cut your food into smaller pieces.
- You can use a solar oven to bring food to a boil and then transfer it into a Wonder Oven or thermal cooker. See http://bit.ly/1hDh0Yh for more information on Wonder Ovens.
Have fun with your solar cooker.