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pengyou 03-01-2013 02:27 AM

Solar ovens?
I don't know if this question is considered an "accessory" question or an "off topic" question. Does anyone here use solar ovens to cook? I have used various kinds of simple solar cooking devices - even putting a can of condensed soup in a glass bottle with water and putting it on my dashboard on a summer day but have never tried to cook something from scratch. I would like to experiment with this but am worried about bacteria and such from cooking meats or things with eggs - including cakes.

Any thoughts?

MrsLMB 03-01-2013 09:39 AM

My only thought is why? Is there some advantage to doing this other than not using electricity or gas?

Chief Longwind Of The North 03-01-2013 12:23 PM

You can construct solar ovens that produce heat in excess of 350' F., with inexpensive materials. There are a great many plans available on line. Usually, if you are in a sunny location, a simple sheet metal box, with shelves for the food, with the outside painted flat black, or better yet, solar black, is all that's needed to cook outdoors, or at the campsite with a solar oven. Excess heat is controlled my opening and shutting vents.

Of course, there are well regulated, more efficient designs available, again online, but are more expensive to build, and may require a little technical expertise.

To answer your question, low temperature cooking may be fine for heating up a can of soup, or beans, or even pre-made pasta. But you aren't going to want to make things from raw ingredients, as you'll need to get the heat high enough to kill the little, live nasties that crawl around in food, and on surfaces. You will need to bring the temperature of the food up to 145' before you start killing bacterial and such. Higher temperatures are needed for some micro-organisms. So unless you know you can get the food hot enough, in a relatively short amount of time, don't do it.

Now drying foods, like sausages, fruits, jerky, and veggies relies on other agents inhibiting the growth of the bad things, such as high concentrations of sugar, salt, pink salt, or acids. But even then, you need to do some research to do it safely.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

pengyou 03-05-2013 07:18 AM

Why? for one reason, I like to go camping for a week or so at a time...would be a nice addition to bbq and potato salad. Secondly, it is a way of reducing our need to draw from the power grid, by using free solar energy.

Mad Cook 06-21-2013 05:20 PM


Originally Posted by MrsLMB (Post 1244008)
My only thought is why? Is there some advantage to doing this other than not using electricity or gas?

Cheaper - the sun's free

Zagut 06-21-2013 06:12 PM

As long as you can get the temps high enough and long enough to actually cook whatever then all is good to go.

I'd be worried that I'm just creating a nice environment for nasty things to grow. :sad:

The sun is cheap but be careful. :rolleyes:

Enjoy Life.

Oldvine 06-21-2013 06:33 PM

My son has cooked a small pot roast on the manifold of a Model T while on tour.

pengyou 06-23-2013 05:38 AM

Hehhehehe in the late '70's, I remember seeing a news item about a guy who drove from Sacramento to Silicon Valley every day. Every night, he would marinate a piece of meat and every morning would wrap it very carefully in aluminum foil. By the time he got to Silicon Valley the meat was cooked to perfection!

I am interested in solar cooking and solar energy in general because it seems like a cheap way to save some energy and reduce the ill effects of producing energy. I would also like to make a project to introduce my students to do - something that they can do at home.

Dandalian 08-18-2013 08:30 AM

Sound's interesting. :D
Looks a lot like one of my science experiments in grade 12.

Chief Longwind Of The North 08-18-2013 06:20 PM

I amend my previous post. A large Fresnel lens, as from a broken big-screen television, can easily focus direct sunlight into temperatures that will literally melt led, and tin. It will cause liquids to boil in a few short minutes, in a container. I would imagine that if you focused sunlight onto a heavy pan, or even a mirror, and reflect it to the bottom of the pan, you could get it hot enough to fry a steak. If you direct that light onto an enclosed metal box, again painted flat black, you could attain very hot temperatures.

There are on line videos showing such things.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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