Friday, March 7, 2008

Solar cooking basics.

There are many reasons to solar cook. This post explains how.

Don’t use water. You only need water if you are going to reconstitute foods like pasta or beans. By now you’ve noticed from the recipes that there is no water utilized. Water is one of the hardest materials to heat on the planet. Bad. And it leaches nutrients out of the food. Bad.

Watch the quantity. More food takes longer to cook. Better to split between two pots. Cook what you need.

Use a sharp knife. Very important. Sharp knives are safer to use because you are not forcing the blade down and make cooking fun. Keep a witting stone around.

The sun moves 15 deg each hour. If you are using a timer, point your oven to the sun and then rotate it in the direction of the sun for the cooking time. For example if you need an hour rotate the oven 15 degrees. If you are not using a timer do the same thing but place the oven in a spot where it will be covered in shade after the cooking time has elapsed.

Use a timer. You don’t want the food to be overdone and taste like mush. So use a timer.

Use thin black pots. The green house effect in the oven generates enough heat for a thin black pot to absorb and pass onto (conduct) the food. Using anything else will unnecessarily be using solar heat to warm the pot. Non black pots may not even cook the food. Winsom's a nice hardware store in San Mateo carries or will order these pots for you.

You don’t need oil. I have nothing against oil but since food can’t burn you don’t need it in solar cooking. Add oil after your food is cooked as a highlight just before serving, the same way you would for salad or if its necessary for flavor.

The solar sport oven will condense water at the top when the food is cooked. That a quick easy visual guide to get the food out. If you are running an errand and may not be back in time put the oven in a spot where you know there will be shade in an hour after cooking.

Roots like potatoes and carrots take a longer time to cook- AND Don't NEED Water!

Save the stock for soups. Most foods will release a stock at the bottom of the pot after cooking. Keep the stock in the refrigerator. When you have two cups blend the stock with whatever cold vegetables leftovers are available. For example blending broccoli and stock makes broccoli soup. Strain if you want to keep the broth clear. Serve cold or warm with herbs on top. Two cautionary notes- Use your stock up in a few days and go easy on the salt when you cook the food.

Have fun. You can’t burn the house or the food in the solar oven. The worst thing that can happen is a dense cloud cover will require you cook the food on the stove or in a regular oven at 240 deg for the same amount of time you would have left it out. So go ride your bike or do whatever you want while the sun is cooking your food.

Ok and solar cooking doesn't use any fossil fuelish energy. You keep money in the bank, about 75 cents per day, every day you cook with the sun.

1 comment:

tsponheim said...

It would be great if you could post some of these recipes to the recipes section of the Solar Cooking Archive Wiki.