Summer has arrived, with a vengeance. We went from high's in the 70's to 90's overnight. And this means, SOLAR OVEN Season! Woo Hoooo!
Preparedness/survivalism is one of my hobbies. A couple of years ago, I came upon instructions for making a solar box cooker from carboard boxes. I made one very inexpensively, from stuff I had around the house, and played with it a bit. It wasn't the most efficient design, but it did manage to reach 190 degrees inside, almost enough to boil water. If given enough time, it would cook things, pretty much like a slow cooker. The disadvantages were several; the two main problems were, 1) in order to get hot enough to cook with, it had to be babysat and turned every hour to face directly at the sun; 2) being made of carboard, it wasn't at all weatherproof, and was so lightweight that it tended to blow around and spill the food.
There are ovens that are commercially produced, but were so expensive that I just couldn't justify it. But this spring I found one at a somewhat more reasonable price. It's still pretty steep, but the performance is so much better that it becomes a real viable tool for summer cooking. I dug into my mad money and purchased it, justifying the expense as part of our "emergency preparedness" equipment.
Sunday, I cooked the main course of Father's Day dinner in the oven: Roast Beef. It was every bit as good as anything I've ever done in the slow cooker.
Last night, I cooked Chicken and Rice in it.
For demonstration purposes, I brought it into the shade so I wouldn't be blinded by the reflectors while taking the picture. The reflectors maximize the solar energy that is funneled into the black oven interior, where it is turned into heat. This little baby heats up to 350 degrees in 20 minutes during peak hours. This meal was put into the oven at 4:15pm, and removed at 7pm. Cooking temperatures were in the 200-250 range that late in the day.
Here's a closeup of the interior of the oven. The open glass lid is hinged on the left side. The pot sits on a self-leveling shelf, so the food always stays level, even when the angle of the oven is changed to track the sun.
The family was very impressed when dinner was unveiled.
Yummy food, cooked by harnessing the power of the sun, all without heating up my kitchen!