Monday, January 18, 2016

Cooking with the Sun

Ever since the derecho storm in 2012 which caused us to lose power for 8 days, I've been a little obsessed with clever off grid living ideas.  One of those clever things I wanted was a sun oven.  They are pricy, though, so I've been biding my time.  You can bake anything in them that you would bake in a regular oven: stews, breads, cookies.  You can even dehydrate in them. 
This year I got enough Christmas money to make the purchase (thanks, family!).  It folds up for easy transportation, but you can see it here all opened up.  First I had to preheat it.  You can see the little white boxes at the bottom - these allow you to align it with the sun.  I didn't take into account the windy day (and it was only 18* that morning) so when I came out the sun oven had blown over.  After that, I stabilized it with the tent stakes it came with (duh!).  Then I put in a pot of vinegar to steam for a couple of hours, after which I cleaned it (this is a one time, initial procedure).  Then it was ready to use.

By this time it was noon.  I put in a pot of lentil soup to start.  The pots are stackable, so after an hour I added a pot of cabbage with seasoning.  Each time you open the oven, it lets out heat like a crockpot, so you have to be careful about that.  I checked it about every 40 minutes to realign with the sun.

What I didn't take into account was that this time of year, the sun sets behind our mountain at around 2:30 in the afternoon.  Yes, that's right.  2:30.

Fortunately, the sun oven did hit 300* even in that short amount of time, and everything was cooked. While it probably could have used another hour of cooking, we did enjoy the meal. It performed well considering all my first timer mistakes!  And next time will be even better I'm sure.

Readers, do you do much cooking in the yard?

24 comments:

Buttons Thoughts said...

Wow I have never heard of such a thing. That is an amazing and very useful thing to own. We have lots of sunny days here in Ontario Canada so it should work very well. I cannot believe your sun goes down so early but with the beautiful mountains it makes sense. Have fun cooking. Hug B

Jacquelineand.... said...

Please keep us posted on how this goes for you; a sun oven is high on my list of must-haves!

Out on the prairie said...

What a fun toy to take camping or just on a hike.Food always tastes better outdoors.

Monkeywrangler said...

We have thought about adding in a sun oven, but they are expensive. I have seen good plans online to build your own, but have not gotten around to doing it. So far the only outdoor cooking I do is on the smoker.

Steve Surratt said...

That is neat! This and the solar panel windows and some for my roof are some things I'm thinking of for the future. My house is all electric and I've not forgotten that awful time of the Deracho.

Sally said...

Amazing, Lisa! I'm so glad you were able to purchase this, and find that it does work. I've never heard of it! :)

xoxo

Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam, and Dylan Too! said...

I've never seen anything like that! That's amazing!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Moms never heard of that stove,, We dont get enough sun to make it work. We would need a rain stove.
Moms never cook anything outside,,, just nothing.
love
tweedles

camp and cottage living said...

Lisa
I've been gradually collecting resources for off the grid in case of an emergency too. I've wondered about the sun ovens so I'm glad to have a first hand report from someone I can trust! It sounds super.
Thanks-kimberly

Tanya Breese said...

how interesting, i've never heard of this! we grill a lot, even through the winter.

Aodhnait said...

Wow what great results for your first time!! Good on you.

TexWisGirl said...

glad it worked! sounds like definitely trial/error tests needed to perfect it.

PioneerPreppy said...

Neat. So it worked in 18 degree outside temps all day or did the temp go up? If so do you know what the average temp and wind chill was? I have been really interested in picking up one of those but have often wondered if it would work in our winters with our higher than average wind speeds.

Michelle said...

Glad it worked for you!

Lin said...

Nope..unless it is on the BBQ. Or the camp stove when we are camping.

DMS said...

This sounds fascinating. I have never used one, but the kids at my local high school make versions of them in science. I am glad the food was still edible and I know next time everything will be even better!
~Jess

Vera said...

Have seen them used on YouTube vids, and am quite impressed. Not sure we can buy them here in Europe but will keep a look out. Would definitely lessen fuel costs which would mean that the unit would pay for itself eventually.

Small Kucing said...

8 days without power?that's bad. Guess when forced, we human will find ways to survive.

That is a pretty clever way of using sun power to cook

A Quiet Corner said...

My Tai Chi instructor and his wife use a solar oven and love it. Of course, we still cook the majority of our meats on the grill (but not charcoal)...:)JP

alissa apel said...

That's pretty darn cool! I know my husband would totally dig this!

Annette said...

What a cool idea, and what a neat idea for camping. Your boys must love it! (My son LOVES my electric car--he's always bragging about how we don't use any gas or oil.) I love new inventions like these--true genius at work.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I've never seen one of those. I find it very interesting that you could cook with the sun.

Mildred said...

I had not idea something like this existed. We could have used one last March! I think you did well with the beans and cabbage. I cooked cabbage in the crockpot yesterday.

Linda said...

Awesome! I have heard of this being promoted in undeveloped countries that don't have enough trees to supply wood for everyone to cook with.