Where there is sun, there is power. Power to do both regular and amazing things – like working a calculator, heating a house, heating water, making cars go and things move. We depend too much on our electric and gas companies, we expect the lights to always come on at the flick of a switch. But when we lose power after a storm or emergency, we are all too often left in the dark. But there’s good news – it is possible to survive and even live comfortably without electricity for more then a few hours. Many people I teach ask me—how am I supposed to cook all this food I’m storing? And I have a simple, affordable and easily achievable answer. By harnessing the energy of the sun, you can slow cook your way to some solar one-pot wonders. I built my oven without anyone’s help and it while it’s a bit on the simple side, it works pretty well. But if you or someone you know is handy with some tools and has some time to spare you can make some pretty fantastic solar oven options.
Solar ovens are not a new invention – they have been used by folks around the world for many years. If you have a solar oven, the basics are covered – you can bake, simmer, steam or stew. You can make a simple, single use solar oven using a pizza box, aluminum foil and tape – you can also make a more durable one with materials you probably have in your basement. Or shop around – there are makes and models to fit anyone’s taste and budget.
For a simple option, you can try my style. You can build this style for less than $15. I actually store the equipment to make several ovens at once so more than one dish can be cooking. You’ll need:
Use the hook and loop strips to connect opposite ends of the car shade together to form a cone shape—reflective material facing in. Place your heavy pot inside an oven bag and tie it shut. Place the car shade on top of your bucket and the oven rack on the bottom, then put the pot on the rack. Easy. And it works.
You can eat well, very well, without using a bit of electricity.
Once you have your oven, you just need a few more tools to make solar cooking a breeze.Pots/pans – Use glass, cast iron, or tin, black colored pots will retain the most heat and you can actually paint the outside of your cooking containers with barbeque paint.Oven mitts – It really works! By tilting your oven and the reflectors toward the sun – your oven can reach 300+ degrees so be prepared with protection for your hands.Time and timing – Like crock pot cooking, solar ovens take at least twice as long as a conventional oven. In the summer, between 10 am – 4 pm is your best cooking time. If the sun is out, you can cook – regardless of the temperature. So plan ahead, start early, and soak up all the sun you can.Food – Experiment with recipes for your crock pot, stove top, or oven.
The food you grow in your garden makes perfect solar food fare – imagine juicy corn on the cob, moist and tender baked potatoes, or vegetable soup – all cooking while you are pulling weeds or digging. Dry goods, which store well and last, are great in the solar oven. Dried beans that have been soaked overnight will simmer all day and be a hearty meal by dinner.
Rice, lentils, and other grains turn out beautifully with sun cooking – and these are the foods you need to know how to cook – get back to the basics and learn to like them! Luxury foods can also be cooked in a solar oven – pizza, roast, whole chickens, lasagna, cookies – the list goes on and on. You can even can your tomatoes, jelly or jam in your solar oven—but that’s a later post.