Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Time: Solar Cooking


The State agency where I work is one of the best ones to work at. It helps that we are self-funded and so not so effected by the general fund budget. We have a lot of special events, most revolving around charities. One yearly event is an environmental/green day. Last year I won the solar cooker in the raffle. But it was already September and all the really hot weather was already done, so I packed it up to wait for this summer.


Before I could cook anything I had to get the proper cookware first. You need black, granite style cookware. The black helps to absorb the heat. I bought a 3-piece roaster off of Amazon since it seemed the most versatile - casseroles, stews, cakes, etc. It also included a rack and the solar cooker directions said that placing the pot on a rack would mean that heat and light could reflect off the bottom of the cooker as well.


With the last week's heat wave and holiday weekend, I figured it was time to break it out and give it a try. Solar cooking is pretty much the same as slow cooking, so I chose to make the Tempeh Chili I had made a few months ago.


The pot is put inside the plastic bag to act as an oven, keeping the heat in. I left the whole thing out on the roof of my carport for the day. When I came home, got it down, and opened it up, it was steaming hot - definitely cooked. Just as good as the crockpot.

before baking
I decided to try baking something next. I had a bread mix in the cupboard and so I mixed it up.
baked, but not browned
This time I did not seal the plastic bag completely because you want some of the steam/moisture to escape. An important thing to remember is that things will not brown a solar cooker like they do in a dry, regular oven. On one website I read that the best way to check if your bread is done is to make sure the thermometer comes up to 175 inside the loaf. 

Overall, solar cooking was successful, uses no utilities, and keeps you from heating up your house. I don't think I'll do it much while at home, but I can see the benefit of taking it camping and for the novelty.

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