Solar Oven Cooking Tips

This is a solar oven, I built out of junk. I found in my yard. The ground was damp so i set it on a old tire. It worked well.

Cooking with a solar oven is different than cooking with your kitchen range.  For instance most kitchen ranges cook from the bottom up.  A box type solar oven cooks from the top down.  This is one of the reasons you need to experiment with your solar oven.

If you are cooking bread or muffins, try putting a heat sink under the pan.  This will help make sure they are not too moist on the bottom.  A heat sink is a brick or large flat rock that is painted black and preheated in the solar oven.  This gives you a hot surface to place your pan on.

Be sure and paint the inside of a box type solar oven black.  Tests that I have conducted show that the temperature gets hotter if the inside is black.  Ordinary black house paint or barbeque paints works well.

Old fashioned blue enamel (GraniteWare) cooking pots are the best all around cook pots to use in a solar oven.  On partly cloudy days Dutch ovens work well.  While slower to heat up they retain their heat if the sun goes behind the clouds for a few minutes.  A good improvised cooking pot is a quart canning jar and lid.  You put a vertical piece of tape on one side and then paint the jar black.  Peel the tape off and you have a window so you can check on your food without opening the lid.  Any pot used should have a tight fitting lid.

If you are cooking a large amount of food, several small pots work better than one large one.

GraniteWare pot

It is ok, to check on your food once in a while, but every time you open the oven the temperature drops.  Things like stews, soups, roasts poultry, casseroles and fresh vegetables are almost impossible to overcook.

With the exception of cookies and open-faced cheese sandwiches, most foods, are cooked in containers with the lids on.

The following food: green vegetables, cookies, cakes, and bread should not be over cooked.

When cooked in a solar oven most recipes take slightly less liquid.

The solar oven will be hot! Use potholders when removing lids or pots.

I suggest you start practicing with your solar oven now.  It is fun to experiment now, but it might not be later on.

Howard

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Solar Oven Cooking Tips

  1. Bellen says:

    We’ve been using a solar oven for a little over 3 years, usually about once a week. A few things we’ve learned along the way:
    As we have to move the oven out from the lanai (screening decreases the sun’s heat) my husband put it on a rolling cart which also serves to elevate the oven for easier loading and unloading food.

    Having meat/poultry in more uniform pieces makes thorough cooking of all pieces better – I’ll cook all poultry thighs or drums instead of mixed, cut a 5# pot roast in half
    It’s great for drying herbs – I lay them out on a dark colored dish towel, roll it up and place on a tray, put in oven, let it ‘cook’ for about 30 min, turn over for another 30-45 min and they are ‘done’ – never have overcooked any

    It makes the best lasagna – even wonderful on the day of cooking – and other casseroles while keeping the heat outside

    We reheat leftovers – meat/poultry with a starch on the side in an oblong pan a little water, cover with foil and then a dark dish towel – and put it out about 2 hours before dinner. We prefer not to use the microwave at all and the oven as little as possible

    We feel that with a solar oven, a gas grill with extra propane tanks, and a camp stove we are prepared for any emergency cooking need. We also make sun tea and coffee, reheating if necessary on the camp stove.

  2. Light says:

    Thus far, I have found NO MENTION of WIND as a major factor in solar cooking conditions. This is rather difficult for me to understand, considering the fact that, even in the first weeks of my solar cooking experience, it became quickly obvious to me that the “Wind Chill” factor has more to do with solar cooking than the time of year, time of day, or the unobstructed visibility of the sun.

    I own a parabolic solar cooker, which I have fallen in love with, because I can effectively cook with it virtually year round. I also own a “Temperature Gun”, the kind that you point and click and it gives instantly accurate temperature readings of the surface of any object. I have tested my pots and pans while cooking hundreds of times, under a wide variety of conditions, and also timed how long it took to cook, fry, and bake a variety of foods. I can say with absolutely certainty that solar cooking equipment (pots and pans), even in box cookers, will cool off so rapidly, when it’s very windy, that it dramatically affects cooking time, in many cases preventing sufficient temperatures for baking or frying altogether

    Since first purchasing my cooker, I have measured temperatures on my cast iron cookware in excess of 700 degrees at 9:am, in early March during partly cloudy skies where there was zero wind. Then, 3 hours later, (high noon) under clear skies, with 25mph. winds, it was difficult to maintain a temperature of 300 degrees in the very same cook pot. So it was then and there that I decided to build a “Wind Break”, using some recycled sliding glass door panels, attached to the Southeast corner of my little cabin to to create a transparent barrier against the prevailing Southwest winds. Now I cook even in very windy days with no loss of heating capacity, year round. I have also baked corn bread (in 40 minutes) on the north side of a large house in 30+mph. winds with no difficulty, because the length of the house itself prevented most of the wind from whipping around to hit my cooker.

    So, I just don’t understand why many advisors on solar cooking fail to mention the wind factor, and some simple SOLUTIONS to the problem. It only took me 10 minutes to think of a solution, $60. bucks to buy the materials from a second hand store, and 2 hours labor to build my handy little wind break. and now I enjoy relaxing behind that transparent wall on windy days, even when I’m not cooking up something delicious. – Light Dancing

    • admin says:

      This is a very interesting comment. I use a box oven and in the area in which I live wind has not been a problem. I can understand how in some areas wind could be quite a problem. Thank you for the suggestion.
      Howard

  3. I’ve posted a 5 min. video on one type of Homemade ROCKET STOVE called “COOKING WITH SCRAPS AND TWIGS” that you may enjoy. Just plug that title into the Youtube search engine and you will find it. After all, sometimes, even in Arizona, the sun is blocked out by the Chemtrails all day long.

    ALSO, I laughed my RearViewMiror off while watching this 11 min. video on making a wood burning Rocket Stove OUT OF WOOD. The irony is it really works. I can’t wait to test it for myself. Just go to YouTube and type WOODEN WOOD ROCKET STOVE.WMV into the YouTube search engine. What Fun! – Light

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