Why use Integrated Solar Cooking?
Cooking Tips and Recipies
Contact and Resources
WHAT ARE THE BASIC KINDS OF SOLAR COOKERS?
This type of cooker has been the advantage of slow, even cooking of
large quantities of food. Variations include slanting the face toward
the sun and the number of reflectors. http://solarcooking.org/plans/default.htm#box-style
This recent development was sparked by Roger Bernard in France. In this
design, various flat panels concentrate the sun's rays onto a pot
inside a plastic bag or under a glass bowl. The advantage of this
design is that they can be built in an hour or so for next to nothing. http://solarcooking.org/plans/default.htm#panel-style
These are usually concave disks that focus the light onto the bottom of
a pot. The advantage is that foods cook about as fast as on a
conventional stove. The disadvantage is that they are complicated to
make, they must be focused often to follow the sun, and they can cause
burns and eye injury if not used correctly. http://solarcooking.org/plans/default.htm#parabolic-style
WHO MADE THE FIRST SOLAR COOKER?
The first solar cooker ( that we know of ) was invented by Horace de
Saussure, a Swiss naturalist. He experimented with Solar cooking as
early as 1767.
WHERE ARE SOLAR OVENS BEING USED THE MOST?
There are reliable reports that there are over 100,000 cookers in use
in both India and China. We are aware of solar cooking projects in most
of the countries of the world. Solar Cookers International has recently
had a breakthrough in Kenya using the CooKit panel cooker. More than
5000 families are now solar cooking there. http://solarcooking.org/kakuma-m.htmhttp://solarcooking.org/plans/cookit.htm
HOW HOT DO SOLAR OVENS GET?
Place an oven thermometer in the sunny part of the oven to get a
reading similar to what the cooking pot is "feeling". The temperature
reached by box cookers and panel cookers depends primarily on the
number and size of the reflectors used. A single-reflector box cooker
usually tops out at around 300° F as the food approaches being done.
High temperatures, however, are not needed for cooking. Your oven will
cook just fine as long as it gets up to about 200° F or so. Higher
temperatures cook larger quantities, cook faster, and allow for cooking
on marginal days; However, many people prefer to cook at lower
temperatures, since then they can leave the food to cook while they go
about their business. With a single-reflector box cooker, once the food
is cooked, it just stays warm and doesn't scorch. It's good to keep in
mind that no food can go above 212° F at sea level anyway, unless a
pressurized cooking vessel is used. The high temperatures you see in
cookbooks for conventional ovens are just for convenience and for
special effects such as quick browning.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COOK A MEAL?
As a rule of
thumb, you can figure that food in a single-reflector box cooker will
take about twice as long as in a conventional oven. However, since you
can't really burn your food, you don't have to watch the cooker or stir
any food as it cooks. You can just put in a few pots with different
foods and then come back later in the day. Pots will cook to perfection
and stay hot until you take it out. Panel cookers cook smaller
portions, usually only in a single pot, but often they cook slightly
faster. Some people have reported the need to stir food every once in a
while when using this kind of cooker to assure that the food heats
evenly. Cooking with a parabolic cooker is very similar to cooking on
one burner of a conventional stove. Since the concentrated sunlight
shines directly on the bottom of a pot, the pot heats up and cooks very
quickly. The food will burn though. So you have to stir it and watch it
DO YOU HAVE TO TURN THE COOKER TO FOLLOW THE SUN?
cookers with one back reflector don't need to be turned unless you are
cooking beans which take up to 5 hours. Panel cookers need to be turned
more often than box cookers, since they have side reflectors that can
shade the pot. Parabolic cookers are the most difficult to keep in
focus. These need to be turned every 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the
WHAT KIND OF POTS WORK BEST?
Ideally, you want to
use a dark, light-weight, shallow pot that is slightly larger than the
food you will cook in it. Metal pans seem to cook best. Hardware stores
in the US usually carry dark, speckled, metal pans called Graniteware.
Shiny aluminum pots can be painted black or can be blackened in a fire.
Cast iron pots will work, but extra solar energy is used to heat up the
pot as well as the food, so they will not work in marginal conditions.
Placing your pot in an oven proof plastic bag will enhance the
cooking process. Be sure to rest your pot on several stones or small
pieces of wood so the pot is raised several inches off of the ground,
Then the warm air will surround the pot. One excellent, easily-obtained
source of plastic film is oven cooking bags. These are for sale in
grocery stores and cost less than US$1 per bag.
CAN YOU STERILIZE WATER IN A SOLAR OVEN?
Yes. In all three types, water can be brought to a boil. A little-known
fact, however, is that to make water safe to drink, it only has to be
pasteurized, not sterilized. Pasteurization takes place at 65° C (150°
F) in only 20 minutes. This treatment kills all human disease
pathogens, but doesn't waste the energy needed to bring the water to a
boil. One reason that people are told to boil their water is that
thermometers are not readily available in many places and the boiling
action serves as the temperature indicator. Dr. Robert Metcalf has
written a very informative piece called: Recent Advances in Solar Water
CAN YOU COOK PASTA IN A SOLAR BOX COOKER?
To keep the pasta from getting pasty, use two pans. Heat the dry pasta
with oil in one pan; heat the liquid with herbs in another. Fifteen to
20 minutes before eating, combine the two. If you are going to use a
sauce, heat that in a third container.
WHAT FOODS SHOULD I TRY FIRST IN MY NEW COOKER?
good first food to try is a small quantity of rice, since it is fairly
easy to cook and looks very different cooked than it does raw. Chicken
or fish is also very easy to cook. See cooking hints. http://solarcooking.org/cooking-hints.htmcooking.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE SUN GOES IN FRONT OF THE CLOUDS WHILE I'M COOKING?
Your food will continue to cook as long as you have 20 minutes of sun
an hour (using a box cooker). It is not recommended that you cook meats
unattended when there is a possibility of substantial cloudiness. More
information on food safety, go to http://solarcooking.org/foodsafety.htm
If you can be sure that the sky will stay clear though, you can put in
any type of food in the morning, face the oven to the south, and the
food will be cooked when you get home at the end of the day.
WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE?
Solar Cookers International sponsors the Solar Cooking Archive on the World Wide Web at http://solarcooking.org
where you will find illustrated construction plans, photographs,
documents, and an international directory of solar cooking promoters.
Their thrice-yearly newsletter, the Solar Cooker Review, is also available there.
An excellent document for further reading is The Expanding World of
Solar Box Cooking by Barbara Kerr. You'll also find a number of audio
programs that you can listen to online. http://solarcooking.org/kerr.htm
provides detailed information about The Wapi Project currently being
participated in by Valley Teens including students from FUSD, Clovis,
Porterville Kerman and Sanger .
Who's who in solar cooking: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page