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solar ovens

Posted by lilleth (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 6, 05 at 12:31

Anyone here using solar oven? What brand? Lehmans has for $249, I've seen others on line for $200.

I live in raleigh nc, our yard is fairly shady with tall pines and hardwoods, only full sign a few hours a day.

can i use your solar cooker in these conditions?

we do get full sun for perhaps 6 hours on one side of our house.

thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: solar ovens

I recommend trying your hand at building your own solar cooker with a couple of cardboard boxes, a pane of glass and aluminum foil. They last for years and materials are cheap or free. After a look at others' DIY solar cookers, it should be easy to design your own.

I once bought a solar cooker for $250 thinking that it would be super efficient, but i had to send it back cause it had a huge gap at the opening letting all the hot air out. Since then, i've been a staunch supporter of DIY solar cookers. You can control the quality and efficiency better by yourself.


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RE: solar ovens

I sent for one last summer from solarovens.com (that may not be the exact address.) It's pretty primitive. It was not at all expensive. I think it was well under $50. We live in western Oregon which is probably right in there with Alaska as the worst place to try it out. We did a few things in it before fall when the sun got too low and it was fun. I would follow Gary and claybones advise before investing too much time and money in one,


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RE: solar ovens

Keep in mind that solar ovens will only work when the sun is bright and close to overhead. Thus they will not work when:
- It is raining
- It is foggy
- It is overcast
- It is winter time (sun too low in sky)


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RE: solar ovens

I've just recently purchased a Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Oven. It's more expensive than most models because it has the electrical back-up, but well worth the expense to safeguard food. If partially cooked food rests in unsafe temperatures (41-140F) for 2-3 hours, it is easy for pathogens to grow. This aspect of solar cooking kept me from purchasing or making one a long time ago - general food safety issues. If you forget to turn the oven (to follow the sun) every 45-60 minutes (especially for the first 2 hours of cooking), it's possible for the temperature to quickly fall to an unsafe cooking temperature.

I've made mostly side-dishes so far. Spanish rice, rice pudding, apple dessert, and roasted almonds. The internal temperature of the box has been around 225-250F (without the additional wings which will help raise the temperature to baking temperatures). I have an oven thermometer in the solar oven so that I can track the temperature. Crock Pots generally run 170-280F, so nearly anything you would make in a Crock Pot you can make in the solar oven.

The Tulsi-Hybrid comes with 4 stainless steel cooking pans (look a lot like cookie tins with tight-fitting lids similar to cookie tins), and these work very well. I have also found a black aluminum griddle that will work very well for meat and even things like cookies.

I believe I will be able to cook in the solar oven about 60-70% of the time for most of the year (I live in central Kansas). Right now (mid-Feb.), the best cooking time is between 11-3 and most things take between 1-3 hours. Later in the year, I'll probably be able to cook between 9am & 5pm. The nice thing - it's nearly impossible to burn something in a solar oven.

Grainlady


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RE: solar ovens

I'm back to looking into this. Are people here still using these? And are there any dangers to doing this? Can things ever catch on fire? We have lost a lot of trees in the past 7 years and have much more sun now!


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RE: solar ovens

I'm still using my Tulsi after 7-years and have purchased two other solar ovens - a Sun Oven and a Hot Pot Solar Cooker.

They each lend themselves to different uses. I like the electric back-up of the Tulsi so the food will maintain a food safe temperature, which is important if you have intermittent clouds in the area or you can't refocus it as often. The Tulsi has more cooking space, so I can make a number of things at the same time.

Loaves of bread bake best in the Sun Oven because there is more height in that oven than the Tulsi.

The Hot Pot Solar Cooker is basically a big bowl with a glass lid, so it's great for soup, chili, stew, or cooking a whole chicken....

I recently added the dehydrating, preparedness, and turkey roasting package for the Sun Oven to extend the use beyond what I was already using it for.

About the only thing I would caution using a solar oven is to purchase 2 heat resistant 5-fingered gloves, like Ove Gloves, in order to have better control when opening and closing the units, than using hot pads or oven mitts. I also wear sun glasses when getting in and out of the ovens. Reflection of the sun could damage your eyes. When you move food from the oven to the house, sit it on a tray or a rimmed cookie sheet. Spilled hot liquid will fall into the tray or cookie sheet.

Check your local public library and see if there are any books on Solar Ovens for more information.

I've never heard of one catching on fire, but I suppose anything is possible no matter how unlikely. You need to move it every 20-40 minutes to track the sun, so it's not left unattended for long periods of time.

I place my units on a Craftsman metal rolling tool cart and lock the wheels when in use. I use bungie cords to secure it to the top. This will up and out of the way and should help to keep curious pets or wildlife away, and if it's a windy day will help keep it on the cart.

Lots of hints and tips since I first posted:

-Bake small whole potatoes in a thin black sock. Make sure the potatoes are more-or-less the same size so they cook evenly. I bought black socks for this exact purpose.

-Sprinkle a small amount of sugar or brush on a little honey/water on chicken to help it brown. Otherwise it's a little "anemic" looking since it won't brown in a Solar Oven. A sprinkle of paprika or herbs will also improve the "look".

-Food cooks faster when the humidity is low, and slower when humidity is high.

-ALWAYS preheat your solar oven before adding food.

-You can make a whole pan of hard cooked eggs WITHOUT water. Place the eggs in a black enamel pan (no water) and place a lid on the pan. Put in a preheated oven and "cook" for 30-minutes for large eggs, or 35-minutes for extra-large.

-Avoid cooking broccoli, cabbage, and sprouts in your solar oven. They develop an awful odor.

-In the winter when it's a little more difficult to attain baking temperatures, you can add a few bricks to the oven when pre-heating to help heating and to maintain the heat.

-To aid in browning the tops of loaves of bread and to lessen condensation in the oven, buy dark bread pans. Buy them in sets of 2. Use one upside-down as a cover. Secure it over the other pan with binder clips.

-If what you are cooking requires constant high heat, refocus the unit to track the sun every 15-minutes.

-When using it in the winter, add a layer of insulation on the outside of the unit.

-I painted the outside of quart canning jars (which are made of tempered glass) with heat-resistant spray paint (the kind you can use on a bbq grill). I can use them for cooking a variety of foods - grains, legumes, soup, etc. - or use them for heating water in the Sun Oven. You can secure a sheet of foil over the top with some holes punched in it so steam can vent. You can also spray paint a canning lid and ring with the same paint. Punch some holes in the canning lid so steam can vent, and just loosely place the ring over the lid to keep it in place.

-Grainlady


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