I've discovered a new love: cooking in a solar oven!
In the summertime, cooking outside is a huge advantage (who wants to heat up the house?!). And since cooking over an open fire can create too much of a forest fire risk, I've had to explore other options…
Such as a rocket stove, and my new favorite: a solar oven.
Why do I love solar cooking?
- It utilizes a free, renewable energy source.
- It is sustainable and betters the environment.
- It's just like cooking in a slow cooker, without the need for electricity!
- My family and I can work all day, and then relax with a delicious meal already waiting for us.
- It is simple, easy, and achieves tremendously flavorful meals.
Solar Cooking 101
First, let's clear up some misconceptions.
No, the food will not be dry. Despite cooking in direct sunlight, solar ovens retain moisture. Food comes out moist and delicious, whether cooked for 20 minutes or 2 hours!
No, clouds don't mean the food stops cooking. As long as the sun has been able to heat up the oven already, clouds can roll by periodically, and the food will keep cooking! Just don't open the sun oven and release the retained heat. Unfortunately, sun ovens don't work on completely cloudy days.
Now that we've got that out of the way, how do you cook in a solar oven? Well, just like using the slow cooker, you must start your meal at an early hour, and rotate the oven every 30 minutes to allow the food to keep cooking in sunlight. I never have to do this job, though. Once the tantalizing aromas start to drift around my yard, the menfolk rotate it for me because they can't resist stopping by to check on the meal's progress! 😉
Although I haven't succeeded in making fried foods in my solar oven, anything else you can cook on your stove or bake in your oven works wonderfully!
The best containers to use inside a solar oven are thin-walled containers such as glass, enamelware, or pottery pieces.
Cast iron is also a good choice, but keep it mind that it will take much longer to heat up. However, once it actually does heat up, it will hold that heat for much longer than any other containers. Which can be a benefit if you lose the sun, because then your food will continue to cook longer than with other cookware.
Tips & Tricks Of Solar Cooking
Did you know that you can pasteurize water in the sun? Not only are solar ovens helpful for day-to-day activities, but they are a great go-to in survival and preparedness situations. I will discuss this in more detail later on in the series.
Solar ovens do not get as hot as conventional ovens, but the containers and food can still burn exposed skin so wear hot pads!
Peeling hard-boiled eggs. It's an age-old problem. 😉 Solar ovens, however, make it so much easier! Just place an open carton of eggs in your solar oven. I recommend using only cardboard egg cartons, but you can also use a cupcake pan to keep your eggs separate.
Aluminum foil can be used in a solar oven, but wrap your food with the dull side out and cover it with a towel to prevent the foil from reflecting the heat away from your food. (But we don't recommend aluminum foil and here's why.)
If you have pets or other free-roaming animals who might be attracted to the smell of food cooking, consider placing the sun oven on a table to keep it off the ground.
The All American Sun Oven
I use the All American Sun Oven. It's designed to distribute the heat evenly throughout the entire cooking area. It is lightweight, very compact, easy to set up, and even easier to use. The quality of this oven, as well as the owner and company as a whole, is impressive — I highly recommend them. The company takes great pride in providing a stellar product made in the United States, and they're working hard to provide better cooking conditions in over 130 countries.
The All American Sun Oven features a leveling rack to keep your food from spilling — even while moving the oven to stay with the sun. I stack the enamelware pots (that came with it) inside the cooker, and make sure to switch the layers around halfway through the day. The oven distributes heat evenly, but still it's wise to give each layer a turn at the top.
Save $50 to $80 on your All-American Sun Oven by going here (it's an exclusive offer just for our readers). Free shipping in the continental US.
We have made 2 DIY solar ovens as well, and they work wonderfully, but they are not as portable or lightweight.
In the next few posts in this series, I will share how to make desserts, breads, pizza, and even a whole meal in the solar oven!
Do you love solar cooking, too? Why or why not? What do you love to cook in a solar oven? What do you want to learn how to cook in a solar oven?
Remember! Save $50 to $80 on your All-American Sun Oven by going here (it's an exclusive offer just for our readers). Free shipping in the continental US.
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