Solar oven: Cooking with the sun

solar oven

Five years ago, we bought our first solar oven, and I talked about our experience on my Antiquity Oaks farm blog. We were in summer cooking heaven. Until then, our only cooking option for keeping the house cool in summer was to use our grill outside. But once we bought our solar oven, we were able to bake meatloaf, lentil loaf, roast with vegetables, brownies, rolls, and more. There were a few challenges. It only really worked between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a day without clouds. The max heat was close to 300 degrees, although it was usually around 270. Still we loved it and used it. We didn’t care that it only worked during the summer because our goal was to keep our house cool during the summer, so it met that need.

solar ovenA couple of months ago, I was contacted by Paul Munsen from Sun Ovens International, Inc. He asked if I’d like to try out their solar oven, and I jumped at the chance — mostly because I thought it would be cool to have two solar ovens. After all, sometimes you’d like to have a roast for lunch and brownies for dessert. So, Paul sent me a Sun Oven in exchange for an honest review. As a veteran solar oven user, I did not expect any surprises, but I was wrong! Going from our original solar oven to the Sun Oven was like upgrading from your grandmother’s car to a zippy sports car. We are able to use it twice as long during the day, and it gets about 100 degrees hotter. You can also crack open the door and use it for drying herbs.

We used it a couple of days ago for drying freshly cut chives that didn’t sell at the farmer’s market. Then it occurred to me that you could use the Sun Oven for reheating leftovers. Did you know you can “boil” eggs in a solar oven? No water required! In fact, what’s really exciting for those of us with our own fresh eggs is that they are easy to peel without tearing up the egg white.

My biggest complaint about our original solar oven was storage when not using the oven. It broke down into four parts: oven, reflectors, and two rails that the oven sat on. It was difficult for one person to carry all of the pieces at once, and it was left in a heap in the basement over the winter. The Sun Oven all packs up neatly in a little case with a handle so that you can carry it with one hand.

No doubt that a really thrifty homesteader can build their own solar oven, and many people have done that. In fact, the first one we bought was basic enough that I know my husband could have built one just like it — but building a solar oven never made it to the top of our 378 item to-do list.

If you clicked on the link and read my Antiquity Oaks blog post from five years ago, you’ll see at the end that I said I’d be posting on this blog in the future after I had figured out solar cooking better. But I’ve never done that. I’ve honestly never felt like my knowledge of solar cooking was advanced enough that I could educate anyone on anything more than the basics. So, I was really excited when Paul from Sun Ovens offered to do a free webinar for my readers. He’s the one who told me about “boiling” eggs in the oven, and he has a bunch of other ideas and tips for solar cooking. He’ll discuss 13 ways you can use the sun year-round on your homestead, including:

  • the fundamentals of solar oven cooking and how you can use the sun for all sorts of benefits year round
  • why food cooked in a solar oven doesn’t dry out or burn
  • how to dry herbs while preserving nutrients
  • using a solar oven for uncommon uses like pasteurizing potting soil or sterilizing water

The free webinar will be held at 7 p.m. central time, Wednesday, May 24. It will last about an hour, and there will be a chance for questions and answers. Click here to register.

Also, everyone who registers will receive a free 120-page ebook, Emerging From an Emergency. I’m really looking forward to this webinar, and I know I’ll learn a lot. Hope you’ll be able to join us.

 

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