by Christine Patton
What is solar cooking?
You can use the free energy of the sun to bake and cook meals in a sun oven. The sun oven uses mirrored reflectors to concentrate heat in an insulated box. Temperatures in a sun oven can easily reach 350 degrees. On a sunny summer day in Oklahoma, you can cook your lunch, a loaf of bread, and dinner in your solar cooker! Best cooking times are between 9 am and 6 pm (summer) and 10 am to 2 pm (winter).
What can I cook in a sun oven?
You can roast vegetables and cook fish, chicken, banana bread, muffins, cookies, manicotti, lasagna, quiche, casserole, rice, beans, eggs, potatoes, soups, chili, hot water for tea, etc. Some things cook faster than others, but many dishes can be cooked in 1-2 hours in the summer. You can also pasteurize water by boiling it in a sun oven.
What types of solar cookers are availale?
You can buy or make a solar cooker or sun oven. Different designs are available.
* Global Sun Oven (Retail $225-$250) **The GSO is my personal favorite.
* Tulsi Hybrid Sun Oven (Retail $220-$250)
* Others ($100+)
* Handmade Cookers (Plans available in Cooking with Sunshine & other books)
What do I need to cook with the sun?
1. A purchased or handmade solar cooker/sun oven
2. A spot receiving several continuous hours of sun between 9 am and 5 pm (summer) or 10 am to 2 pm (winter)
3. Oven gloves and sunglasses
4. Dark colored pots or pans with dark-colored lids
What are the advantages of solar cooking?
1. Solar cooking uses no fossil fuels or wood fuel. So it doesn’t pollute the air or contribute to global warming.
2. Solar cooking doesn’t heat up your house in the summer.
3. Solar cookers can be used during power outages.
4. Solar cookers can be used at “off-grid” locations like campsites or homesteads.
5. It cuts down on energy bills--from using less of the cooktop, oven, and A/C.