As I walked through our Living Room to come to the office, I glanced over to the patio door that leads out to the deck and saw my solar oven sitting on the floor next to the wall. I've found myself keeping it there as I was using it so often, it got to be a pain to go into the storage closet to get it out and bring it out to the deck whenever I wanted to use it. With sunny spring and summer days ahead, I've taken to just keeping it ready to go at a moments notice.
And THAT is when I thought to myself; I need to feature solar cooking on the blog again. So I am!
It's NO secret that I love my solar oven. No, it's not a sponsored post. No, it's not a product review. I bought and paid for the oven myself a few years ago.
I bought the 'package' deal that included parchment paper, 2 racks, pots and pans, a disc with recipes and a reusable thermometer which indicates when water has reached pasteurization temperature and is safe to drink.
All American Sun Oven Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package SUN OVENS International, Inc.
However you can also buy just the oven, without a full package: All American Sun Oven- The Ultimate Solar Appliance
What do I cook in it? Almost anything I would bake in my oven in the house. I've made bread, cinnamon rolls, chicken, southern pulled pork bbq, pies, applesauce, cookies, muffins, Dutch pastry letters and more and more and more.
Sample Cook Times
- Beef Roast, 2.5 lb. = 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Baked Chicken, 3 lb. = 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Bread = 45 minutes
- Rice = 40 minutes
- Chocolate Cake = 35 minutes
If it's SUNNY OUT, you can use it.
I like to use it mostly in the summer because I know the sun and warm temperatures will heat the solar oven up in under 15 minutes and it will be right around the 350 degree temperature that most things easily bake or roast at. I've used it in the winter, but the sun has to be strong, not a cloudy 'half sun' day or that along with the cooler temps make it difficult to get past about 220 degrees and things take much longer to slow cook.
I found my sun oven online and bought it a few years ago. I've noticed that they are easier to find now - you can buy them at numerous different sites. There are also many different versions available from a lot of different companies now. I'm only linking to one style in this post because that is the style I have but if you click on the link and go to Amazon, you will find many more brands and styles to choose from including some that are more portable than my 'home use' version which is too heavy to port along camping as it's about 23 pounds. Perfect for use on my deck or my front steps though!
If you are interested in seeing some of the recipes and posts where I've mentioned the solar ovens, just do a search in the sidebar to the right for "sun oven" "solar cooking" or any other similar search terms. You can also click on the label "solar cooking" in the label box of terms on the right sidebar and that will list my posts related to this topic as well.
This information is from Sun Oven - but it answers most popular questions so I thought I'd include it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I cook in a SUN OVEN®?
Anything you can cook in a conventional electric or gas oven and most things you can cook on a stovetop can be cooked in a SUN OVEN®. You can bake, boil and steam, so the only foods you cannot cook are fried foods.
Where are the SUN OVENS® manufactured?
The SUN OVENS® which are sold in North America are made in Elburn, Illinois. With the exception of the thermometer, all of the component parts used in the SUN OVENS® are made in the USA.
What is the cooking temperature range?
The SUN OVEN® will reach temperatures of 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking temperatures will vary depending on the brightness of the sun and how often the oven is refocused to follow the sun.
Will food prepared in a SUN OVEN® taste the same as food prepared in my conventional oven?
The food tastes much better. SUN OVEN® cooking allows many of the natural flavors of food, which get baked out in conventional ovens, to remain. The slow, even rise in temperatures in a SUN OVEN® gives complex carbohydrates time to break down into simple sugars allowing subtle natural flavors to emerge. Sun baked-foods stay moist (the natural internal juices do not bake out) resulting in a superior, moist taste and much less shrinkage.
How long does it take?
Cooking times are close to the same as those in a conventional oven. Because the sun sometimes goes behind clouds, cooking times can vary. At times, it may take a little longer. The factors that affect the cooking time are the quality of the sunlight at the time you are cooking, the types and quantities of the food being cooked, and how often the oven is refocused. A good rule of thumb is to add 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time for each time the oven door is opened. The amazing thing about using a SUN OVEN® is that it is almost impossible to burn food, and sun-cooked food does not dry out. This enables food to be cooked for a longer time at a lower temperature or in less time at a higher temperature, without affecting the quality of the food. There are two ways to cook in a SUN OVEN®. If you refocus the oven to follow the sun every 25 to 30 minutes, cooking times and methods will be very similar to cooking with a conventional stove or oven. Or a SUN OVEN® can be used for slow cooking, much like a crock-pot. You can prepare your dinner, put it in the SUN OVEN® and point the oven toward where the sun will be approximately halfway through the time you will be gone. Leave and come home to a tasty, slow-cooked dinner. If you run late, there is no need to worry; the SUN OVEN® will keep your food warm, moist and fresh for hours.
Does a SUN OVEN® require special pots and pans?
No, but dark, thin-walled pots with lids work best. Dark pots change the light from the sun into heat energy. Shiny aluminum pots and pans cause light to be reflected out thereby reducing the oven’s temperature. Glass casserole dishes with lids also work well. With the exception of bakery goods, everything cooked in a SUN OVEN® should be cooked in a pot with a lid. Lids hold steam in the pot. If a lid is not used, the steam will fog the inside of the glass and reduce the temperature. For baking cakes, breads, cookies and pies, dark cookie sheets and baking tins work best.
Can more than one thing be cooked at the same time?
Yes, the SUN OVEN® has been designed to accommodate baking two loaves of bread at a time. Several flat pans can be cross stacked to enable several layers when making granola or cookies. Two small stackable pots can be used on the leveling tray. The leveling tray can be removed to increase the usable area inside the SUN OVEN® and allow larger stackable pots or pans to be used. (It is important to note that if the leveling tray is removed, pots and pans should be placed on a trivet, not on the floor of the oven. To cook evenly, there must be air flow all the way around the pot. A trivet will allow enough air to pass under the pot to ensure an even heat.)
Does food need to be stirred?
No, stirring to prevent scorching is not required when cooking in a SUN OVEN® due to the fact that there are no hot spots. The temperature of the food and the pot remain the same and rise evenly. It is almost impossible to burn food in a SUN OVEN®.
Will food brown when cooked in a SUN OVEN®?
In full sun, bread baked in a SUN OVEN® will brown. To ensure a brown crust every time bread is baked, a light mist of water can be sprayed on the dough just before it is placed in SUN OVEN®. A dark lustrous finish on breads can be achieved by using an egg- or milk-wash on the dough before baking.
When poultry is baked in a SUN OVEN® in a covered pot, it does not brown. A golden brown surface can be attained on meats and poultry by sprinkling a small amount of sugar over them. Paprika is also useful for creating an appetizing appearance.
How difficult is it to focus a SUN OVEN®?
Focusing a SUN OVEN® is very easy. All that is required is to watch the shadows created by the oven. When the shadows are even on all sides, the cooker is directly focused. The built-in leveling leg on the back of the oven allows for easy tracking. You regulate the temperature by turning the oven towards the sun and focusing the oven. If you want the oven at a high temperature, turn the oven towards the sun and directly focus the oven. If you want a lower temperature in the oven, focus the oven directly, then turn the oven slightly out of direct focus.
How often must a SUN OVEN® be refocused?
The need to refocus depends a great deal on what you are cooking, the time of day, and the temperature you wish to maintain. A good rule of thumb is to plan to readjust every 30 minutes to maintain maximum heat. At noon the sun is high in the sky and moves quickly past the maximum focus point, creating the need to refocus more often. Later in the day, you will not need to refocus as often. The SUN OVEN® is equipped with a built in Levelator, which keeps food level and avoids spills while being refocused.
Many meals can be cooked without refocusing. SUN OVEN® users often will put their ovens outside, focused for the mid-day sun, with their dinner in it when they leave for work in the morning. As the sun moves overhead, the temperature in the SUN OVEN® chamber slowly rises to a cooking level. As the sun passes, the food is kept warm. When they return from work, they have a warm, sun-cooked dinner. (Keep in mind food will not burn in a SUN OVEN® and that the chamber is extremely well insulated, allowing food to stay warm for hours.)
Will I need to be concerned about getting burned when using a SUN OVEN®?
The only parts that get hot are the oven chamber, the cooking pan and the glass door. Proper care must be taken to use hot pads when opening the door and removing food. The entire exterior of the oven, including the reflectors, does not get hot and remains safe to touch.
How long will a SUN OVEN® last?
The estimated life of a SUN OVEN® is 15 + years. With proper care it should last a lifetime.
Do I need special recipes to cook in a SUN OVEN®?
The SUN OVEN® reaches temperatures comparable to that of conventional ovens; therefore, no special recipes are required.
What are the dimensions of the SUN OVEN®?
The size of the SUN OVEN® is 19” x 19” with an average depth of 11”. The total weight is only 23 pounds. The back of the outside outer box is 14″ high and the front of the outer box is 9″ high. The back of the oven chamber is 11″ high and the front is 8″ high, with an average depth of 9.5″. The door opening for the oven chamber is 14″ in diameter. When opened the reflectors are 32″ in diameter.
What materials are used in the construction of a SUN OVEN®?
The following materials used to make a SUN OVEN®:
Reflectors: Anodized aluminum (which will never oxidize, rust or corrode)
Outer Shell: ABS plastic
Bezel: Poplar wood (kiln dried)
Inner shell: Anodized aluminum
Door: Tempered low iron glass
Between the aluminum inner shell and the plastic outer shell, there is a thick batt of food grade fiberglass insulation
Can I use a SUN OVEN® in the winter?
Yes, a SUN OVEN® can be used on a clear, winter day. The most important factor in using a SUN OVEN® is the brightness of the sun, not the outside air temperature. Often, a 40-degree, clear, low-humidity day will allow food to cook faster than a 100-degree day with high humidity. The SUN OVEN® has been used very successfully at the base camp of a Mt. Everest expedition where the temperatures were often well below zero. There are, however, more cooking hours available in the summer than in the winter. In the summer, it is not unusual to cook from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, whereas during the early winter, effective cooking is limited to 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Can a SUN OVEN® be used to dry or dehydrate foods?
Yes, a SUN OVEN® makes an excellent solar dryer. When the latch (which holds the door shut for cooking) is turned inward and the glass door is set on top of the latch, moist air can escape and the temperature inside the oven will remain low enough to keep the items being dried from starting to cook.
Are SUN OVEN® used in countries outside of the United States?
Yes, SUN OVENS International, Inc. is involved in solar cooking projects in deforested countries on 5 continents. We have been innovative in developing methods of placement, training and marketing to assist in the positioning of over 34,000 family sized GLOBAL SUN OVENS® in the U.S. and more than 100 developing countries, and 250 large VILLAGER SUN OVENS® in deforested developing countries. We are striving to develop and implement comprehensive solar cooking programs which will radically decrease the developing world’s dependence on fuel wood and dung as the primary cooking fuels, while benefiting the environment, raising the standard of living and improving the health of the poor worldwide.
Related products available through Amazon;
All American Sun Oven Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package SUN OVENS International, Inc.