Some time ago, when I first got a solar oven, I chose to do a little experiment. In one pot I threw in a nearly freezer-burned frozen ham into one pan and 2 frozen sausage logs into another. I added no seasonings, no water, nothing but time and a little sunshine. The results were SO tasty and moist. This is a great result in spite of the fact that I used a Sport Solar Oven (not my favorite choice by a long shot.). So I'm certain that it will work well with your homemade solar ovens too. Anyway, this is very amateur video footage, but you'll get the picture--in fact, you might even drool a little bit.
Success is all but guaranteed when you're cooking with a solar oven because it's virtually impossible to get anything to burn or scorch in a solar oven. All you need is sunshine, a good seal, a way to insulate the heat inside the oven, and a way to attract and absorb the sun's rays. It doesn't matter what the temperature is outdoors. And no, it's not a fire hazard. And contrary to what most people assume you DON'T need to all the time in the world to cook or bake in a sun oven. As long as you have the temperature that your recipe calls for, you can cook your goodies in the oven as long as the recipe calls for though you may have to add a few minutes of cooking time as the temperature will lower when you open the oven to put your goodies inside. (There's no way that I actually NEEDED to cook the sausage and ham that long in the solar oven, but you'll notice that even though I did cook them for SO long, they were still moist. And boy howdy, they were delicious!)
My solar oven of choice is the Global Sun Oven. The Sport Sun Oven isn't built to withstand intense desert heat nor is it intended to withstand everyday use for years and years, whereas the Global Sun Oven is created to be used in the toughest terrain of 3rd world countries every day for at least 5 years. The only "extra" part I'd purchase for the Global would be the door that seals the heat in as it COULD possible break. The Global is great in that its insulation allows you to use every square inch inside to cook. I even did an 18 pound turkey for Thanksgiving along with whole sweet potatoes inside, etc. (Use a roasting bag instead of a pan and you'll get that much more cooking space volume). The only thing I like about the Sport solar oven is its shape. But the lid warps with high heat hitting it and won't seal the moisture well after wards. Oh well. It's a back-up and I'll keep using it until it's completely useless.
Here are a couple of pictures of some seasoned chicken that I did. Notice the kinds of pans I'm using. These are the pans that folks typically donate to Goodwill because they are thin-walled, but that's actually the kind you want when cooking in a solar oven--dark, thin walled, ceramic coating, with a well-fitting lid. I didn't add any water to the chicken, just some seasonings. Can you imagine how DELICIOUS this broth was when I was finished cooking it?
You'll want to invest in a good quality oven thermometer. America's Test Kitchen Recommends the inexpensive Cooper Atkins 24 HP. They're about $6 online. (And you should have one for your indoor oven too!)
I invite you to read the other articles I've written about cooking with a solar oven. It really is a ball and it's a MUST have culinary tool if you consider yourself a "foodie."
Here's one meal I made with chunky seasoned potatoes and a whole chicken. The trick to getting meats the colors you want is to remove the lid during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking for that caramel brown coloring.
I've made bread, brownies, soups, plain brown rice, casseroles, stews, cobblers, cakes, and even cream puffs in my solar ovens! I have to say the BREAD and the BROWNIES have been the favorite of my neighbors. (The cream puffs probably would have been but they didn't make it out the door. *grin*)
I also use my solar ovens to sanitizing dishes when camping, making sun-dried tomatoes--HEAVENLY, and dehydrating a few other foods that have turned our perfectly. I simply can't tell you enough how much I love, love, love my solar oven. And more importantly to this gal who HATES being hot and sweaty--I love how my solar oven allows me to cook without cranking up the A/C. The solar oven is worth what you pay for it by itself, but it ALSO replaces the big bucks you could spend on a quality food dehydrator. I can also use it as a rice cooker, as the perfect tool to bottle butter, and as an effective water sanitizer. It's worth every penny in my opinion. I hope I hear from you soon telling me how much you've come to enjoy yours. By all means PLEASE do not just buy one and store it in the corner of the basement. Use it, enjoy it, and wonder how you ever enjoyed food before you discovered it!
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if it was south facing you likely would have been able to get it to the 400 degree point too.
You can get away with part of the cooking in partly sunny skies, but your results will be inconsistent. You really do need a nice sunny day. I have lots of readers in MN though who use the Global.
We live on Minnesota, and my hubby is reluctant to invest the $ in one as, during the winter months we really don't have much sun at all. Lots of dreary gray days. Does it work on partly sunny days? Or must it be full sun? LoVed that you added video! Thanks so much!
I have a Sun Oven and I did an experiment just last Sunday. It was a whopping 20 degrees outside but the sun was shining brightly. So we put it out to see how warm it would get and it got up to nearly 300 degrees. I would say, it is a great tool to cook with even in the wintertime as long as there is sun shining. This oven has great insulation that allows it to be used in the wintertime as well.
I totally understand Mazie. I've calculated that IF I were in a situation in which I have to help all the family members at one time, we'll need 4 sun ovens. So we'll gather them periocidally as they come available. I'm always on the hunt for underappreciated prepping supplies on the classifieds.
Here's a cornish hen recipe idea. Make a "paste" by combining orange juice concentrate (the kind you get in the freezer section at the grocery store), butter, and some ground freeze-dried raspberries. Baste the cornish hens with this mixture--DEE-VINE, especially in a solar oven.
I have a friend who likes to experiment, and he made a *very* cheap solar oven. He started with a wide mouth quart canning jar, and painted it black with grill paint (heat resistant). Then he stuck it in a slightly inflated clear plastic bag to put a heat bubble around it. He surrounded that with one of those metallic bubble wrap thingies you put on your windshield to keep the heat out of the car on a sunny day, curved so it touched the bottom of the jar but rose like a cone. Done! Apparently it makes the most amazing meatloaf (this would be why you need a *wide mouth* jar--otherwise you'll make a mess getting food back out). It's not nearly as easy to use as a sun oven sport, for example, but it does the job and could conceivable cost nothing but a trip to the thrift store.
any solar oven will make the most amazing meatloaf. It's one of my favorite proteins to make in there. The only thing missing from your friends formula is insulation and a way to keep the rays inside once attracted. Also, I use a strip of masking tape on the outside of the jar when I paint it so that I can see how things are coming on the outside of the jar. Once I learned to make the solar ovens properly insulated and a bit larger, I was able to do without the jars which is much more convenient so that I can make all kinds of things--not just those that go into jars.
I found out the hard way that the manufacturer of the Sport solar oven says you CAN'T use the reflectors in the UT desert sun otherwise you'll warp the lid.
I LOVE love my Sun oven I also have a sport which I have used a lot as well it is good to cook 2 pans at once and in the summer heat here in Ut. I did not need the reflectors on it, only in the winter. Baked chicken is a total favorite at our camp outs as well as baked beans, rice, and stews.
Hi Kellene - First, I LOVE your site! Thank you for all the information you put out there for us. I have a Global Sun Oven too, and love it so far. I've actually had it a couple years, but unfortunately just don't think to use it. Once I get into the habit I know I'll use it all the time. I have one question: about how long does it take for the "manufacture" smell to dissipate? I heated and cleaned the oven when I first got it according to the mfr. directions. I've used the oven about a half dozen times over the past couple summers and cooked meals in covered pots, all with great results. The "manufacture" smell had not dissipated yet, but since the pots were covered it didn't affect the meal. However when I made a banana bread, since the dish was uncovered, it absorbed the smell from the oven. Even though the bread itself turned out great, it tasted just like the smell from the oven and we had to throw it out. My husband thinks I just need to heat the oven up a few times to let the smell burn off (i.e., USE IT MORE!). Since you use your oven so much I was wondering how long it took for your oven to lose the smell? I am a huge baker and want to experiment with more baked goods, but I'm paranoid about cooking anything either in an uncovered container or without a container at all (like baked potatoes) until that smell is GONE!. I sure don't want to throw out more food! I've tried contacting the folks at Sun Oven but got no response. Thanks!
I can't say that I experienced that problem. I would suggest actually calling the manufacturer. If it were me that would be my first step. Otherwise I'd put a shallow pan of water and white vinegar in the oven all day and see if that doesn't help.
I purchased two Global Sun Ovens this past summer and I enjoy using them all the time. I bought two so I could cook entire meals, including the dessert at the same time. I've cooked the best chicken and Cornish Game Hens with this oven that I've ever tasted. As you mentioned, the broth can't be beat! Cookies turn out marvelous, as do cakes and breads. I live in the mountains of Northern California, so I can only access the sunlight for a certain amount each day because of the huge Pine trees all around. I manage to capture five full sunhours a day and it is enough to cook anything I wish to, more than enough time actually.
I also have the Global Sun Oven and love how it cooks. After reading your ideas, Kellene, about canning butter, I tried it and what can I say--PERFECTION! It was so super easy, and I was so proud of myself I kept the butter on the counter for several days just to admire it. LOL. Anyway, as you say, it is a lot of fun to cook away using the "free" sun. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone trying to make the decision to buy one. You won't be dissapointed.
Love your blog, Kellene, and I really do appreciate all your hard and dedicated work.
We have the Global Sun Oven bad we love it. The baked chicken is our favorite.
In my world, money is purchasing something that won't last when your life depends on it isn't expensive. Buying something that your family needs to rely on that fails, regardless of what you paid for it, IS expensive.
The other option for you is to go the non-commercial route--learn to build your own. Look up the articles on here regarding "solar oven" on this site by putting that topic in the search bar here. It'd be better that you learn to build your own as you can supply yourself with back-up supplies.
Being a single, adoptive mom of two special needs sons, my income is very limited so a purchase like this, although very nice, would be out of the question for my family. Can you recommend one that is less expensive?
I, too, have a short supply of money..LOL I found a website(but of course I can't remember which) that had free plans and inspirations. I picked the large one made from cardboard covered in aluminum foil. Boiled water in middle Tennessee in less than an hour! First meal was chicken and rice made in a cast iron skillet inside a gallon freezer bag! Came out perfect in 3 hrs. Can't quite get it to do cornbread tho... My husband is so impressed, he is planning to build the one modeled like the "global" here in a few days.
Sounds to me like you're talking about a reflective oven as opposed to a solar oven. I'm tickled pink to hear of your success with your experiment! There's nothing that successfully imitates the taste of baked goods made in a solar oven.
I want a solar oven so bad but can't afford one. I would so love to be able to bake bread in the summer and not heat the house. Hopefully prices will get lower soon. That bread looks like it needs a pat of butter and some homemade jelly....yum!
Nice article, living in England I dont think I would get much use out of a solar oven :)
I will stick with my camping stove, Im lucky as there are plenty of trees around me and we keep plenty of wood as fuel.