Last week, we shared an excerpt of Eric Smith’s new book, DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home, about how to build a sturdy solar oven.
Now, here are some of Smith’s top tips about how to prepare delicious meals in your new solar cooker!
Solar panel prices may seem high on the surface, but the savings are often more than the cost. In the end, solar panels are a great way to reduce your electricity bill. But solar energy comes in heat as well as light. Capturing the heat to create electricity may not be as efficient as capturing light from efficient solar panels, but capturing heat to use as heat can be highly cost-effective. It’s not about the cost of solar panels vs the cost of solar cookers — you can have both! And the advantages of both types of solar are basically the same.
Anything that can be cooked in a slow cooker, including meat, can be cooked in a solar cooker (as long as the sun is out!). You can also make bread and other baked goods, rice, fish, potatoes, and dozens of other dishes. You’ll need to experiment a little with a cooking thermometer, because cooking times will vary depending on the time of year and where you live; most foods will need 2 to 4 hours.
Other points to keep in mind when cooking in a solar oven:
- Be sure to adjust the back leg so there are no shadows in the cooker, and move the cooker every hour or so to face the sun directly.
- Since the cooking temperature is fairly low and the food is in a closed pot, it won’t overcook or dry out if you leave it in too long.
- You can use a candy thermometer or oven thermometer to find out how hot the oven is. This will help you determine cooking time.
- Avoid opening the lid unless absolutely necessary—it’s estimated that every time you open the lid you add 15 minutes to the cooking time.
- Wipe down the interior of the oven after every usage. Keeping the glass lid clean allows as much sunlight in as possible.
- You cannot cook in the oven without a dark pot with a lid. The dark metal of the pot is warmed by the sunlight and transfers its heat to the food.
- Do not allow children to use the solar oven unless they are under direct adult supervision.
About the book: DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home details a dozen easy-to-do, everyday solar projects for homeowners of every level of handy — from mounting photovoltaic panels on your roof and installing solar lighting in a shed to creating a solar still that purifies water.
Have you ever tried cooking food with the power of the sun? Tell us about it in a comment!