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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Do you have any favorite websites for sun-oven recipes? We have a sun-oven, but I haven’t tried using it yet…
Tammy Trayer says
Good Morning Heather,
Yes – Sun Oven itself has a wonderful area of recipes which can be found here: http://www.sunoven.com/archives/category/daily-solar-cooking-recipe.
But also remember that any recipe you currently have other than fried foods can be made as is in the solar ovens. So recipes here at GNOWFGLINS.com and on my website as well at TrayerWilderness.com will fit the bill. The key is turning it every 30 minutes to keep with the sun for efficient cooking times.
Please let me know if I could be of more help to you. Blessings to you and yours and good luck having fun with your Sun Oven.
Jenny Cazzola says
I have never tried this but I have wondered a lot about it. I was wondering about recipes too. Thanks so much for sharing Tammy!
Tammy Trayer says
Thanks Jenny!! I will be supplying more recipes, but anything that is not fried can be made in the sun oven just as you would in your conventional oven so have fun!! I really am enjoying it!!!!
Susan in Southern AZ says
I have one also and it sure saves heating up the already hot house in the Arizona summer heat! We haven’t had a bad meal yet with ours and have done tons of roasts with veggies, chops, etc…one of my friends uses hers for baking bread which is next on my list!
Tammy Trayer says
Yes, Amen to that… I am so thankful for my Sun Oven – this week it has been consistently 102 degrees here so the less heat in the house the better. I too have made bread and cakes and it is amazing… I have not made anything in it yet that did not turn out outstanding…. So glad you are enjoying yours as well… Blessings to you and yours and thanks for taking the time to chat…
I can’t wait to learn more about this! Totally new to me!
Tammy Trayer says
Awesome Debbe! Glad to have you joining me… It is really SO simple, cost effective and the dishes are wonderful!!! Look forward to chatting again as we progress… You will definitely want to give this a try. Blessings to you and yours….
I have read (Mercola’s site?) that the speckled enamel pots are not good for you. Just wondered if you have heard that and if you have found alternatives that fit the Sun Oven?
Tammy Trayer says
I had not heard that, but I do stay away from anything Teflon coated and typically I use either pottery pieces or cast iron because my son is high functioning autistic and some of the metals can leach into your food and others emit toxins into your food. Cast iron is guilty of that too, but it is healthy iron being leached into ones food and this can be an aid to people with iron deficiencies. There are definitely different containers you could get to fit the oven and stacking pottery and pottery dishes would be what I would recommend if you are concerned. The pottery will also hold the heat and help cook the food when the sun heads behind the clouds. I hope this helps and I am so thankful that you took the time to ask. Hope to chat again as we progress through the series…. Blessings to you and yours…
Thanks Tammy 🙂 Where do you buy your pottery? I’m not really picturing what you mean. Could you share a link?
[I tried to leave a comment at Tammy’s website but didn’t want to register for Disqus, don’t use G+, or FB as a personal page, and couldn’t comment as a guest :0 Glad to find this article here and be able to comment!]
I bought a Sun Oven this summer too and it quickly became standard cooking equipment. I’m getting ready to publish a blog post tomorrow on using it to hardboil eggs without water. I can’t promote solar cooking enough! I can ditto everything Tammy says. I love reading about others experiments with it, as well as the comments, questions, and answers because I always learn something.
I love your Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe. When I have made it in my kitchen oven it has cooked perfectly. I made it two times in my Sun Oven. Both times it seems that the top of the bread is a little dry in order for the bottom of the bread to be cooked. The first time I cooked it was in a light color Wilton bread pan, the next time it was in a dark Norpro pan. Do you have any suggestions on baking it?
Does wind effect the cooking in a solar oven?
I love mine. A few weeks ago (mid morning) my husband reminded me of company coming for dinner.
A really busy day and in the middle of a bad heat wave.(did not want to use my oven)
I took a frozen chicken out of the freezer and put a roster and placed it in the sun oven and faced it into the sun. With time to redirect it into the sun every couple of hours, we had a very moist and tasty chicken dinner.
Colleen Budd says
Very interesting reading. I just got a solar oven and will try it today with a stew. Also want to try baking zucchini muffins etc.
I wonder where you got the stacking pots from? I have searched online but may be using the wrong terms. I have a pot that looks like the size shown above, but the sides are smooth all the way and don’t allow stacking.
Port Hope, Ontario