to cook with Solar Energy©
By Arlene Correll
The extent of my solar cooking has always been sun tea. However, upon being asked what I knew about solar cooking, I discovered the answer was nothing! Here are the results of my research.
The results prove to
me, and only for me that solar cooking is not my thing. I can cook a lot faster. However, if I am ever lost in the
desert or woods or out of necessity find I have the food, equipment and
sun, but no gas or electric stove, I will not have to eat raw food.
Yet, for the more
adventurous or hardy chefs or for those who live in countries with out
electricity, etc, then this may be the way to go.
We live in a rapidly
changing world. Technology has an ever-increasing influence on our
everyday lives. Life has
become very “iffy” since 911 and who knows when some fanatic will
drive us back to the dark ages. Hence any information is good to have on
hand. Just remember it must be in your head or written down since you
will not be able to pull it up on your computer if the lights go out!
The golden rule of
solar cooking is: GET THE FOOD ON EARLY, AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT
One has to have
certain types of days to do solar cooking.
Clear and sunny. Oven will preheat to 275° - 300°F (130° - 145°
Hazy or partly cloudy. Oven will preheat to 200° - 225°F (95° -
On a completely cloudy day one cannot cook with the sun. If the
clouds move in and completely block the sun while cooking, simply finish
the cooking in a non-solar way.
food partially cooks and then rests in incubation temperatures,
pathogens may grow in 2 or 3 hours. Partially cooked food should be
removed from the cooker as soon as feasible.
all your food in black containers or pots.
Many spaghetti sauces come
packed in 26 oz. canning jars. If you've converted one of these 'free'
jars into a cooking jar (by painting it black) this will give you a good
foods are easy to cook some are harder.
to Cook: (If started early,
will be done on a fair day.) Rice, whole grains, rolled grain
flakes, cereals, most egg dishes, chops, ribs, fish and most poultry,
puddings, crackers, cookies, brownies, fruits, green vegetables,
to Cook: (If started
early, ready by noon on a good day or by evening on a fair day.)
Cornbread, gingerbread, medium-sized roasts, quick breads, yeast rolls
and buns, soufflés, root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, some
beans such as lentils, black-eyed peas, black beans.
to Cook: (If started
early, ready for late lunch or dinner on a good day.) Whole
turkey, large roasts, stews and soup and bean pots (unless brought to a
boil before placing in solar oven), most yeast breads and cakes,
pre-soaked pinto beans, field peas, garbanzo beans, small navy beans,
soybeans, kidney beans, red beans, yellow peas, dried peas, split green
or brown peas.
You do not need to
stir food while cooking. However, it’s OK to check the food if you
quickly replace the lid.
the hard-to-cook or larger quantity items in the back of the cooker
where they will receive more direct sun. When using several pots, place
the easy-to-cook food in the front of the cooker.
solar oven will be hot! Use
potholders when removing lids or pots.
keep the food hot after the sun goes down, add several bricks or heavy
stones when you begin cooking. To maximize heat retention, lower the
reflective lid onto the glass, and cover the cooker with a blanket.
Leftovers are easily
reheated in the solar cooker.
The Essenes, an
early sect of Jews, gently heated wafers of ground sprouted grains on
rocks heated by the desert sun. This was not cooking in the contemporary
sense. The goal was not to overheat the wafers, but to heat them only to
the point which did not kill the living enzymes in the grains. This
created a food source that is extremely healthy for the human body.
parabolic or box
model (SBC) or whether it's shaped as an oval or rectangle. These
fundamental principles are directing the greatest possible amount of the
sun's light rays to the food by means of reflection, converting these
light waves to heat energy and effectively retaining this heat energy by
insulating the cooker.
|Cooking boxes and plans can be found on the following links. We have not tried any of this equipment. However, they all look like they will work and we are sure that the authors of these sites will be glad to answer any questions. However, we are not responsible for any websites that are no longer working.||
(This one shows you how to recycle your old pizza box into a
(This one recycles old inner tubes into solar cookers)
(requires Adobe Reader to obtain plans)
types of cookers
The first known
person to build a box to solar cook food was Horase de Saussure, a Swiss
naturalist. He cooked fruits in a primitive solar box cooker that
reached temperatures of 190°F. He was the grandfather of solar cooking.
nature of the
previous war showed, in some ways for the first time, that we are a
world community facing global problems that affect us all.
The UN then sponsored studies and programs to introduce these cookers into cultures where the need was most apparent. These efforts proved mostly unsuccessful. In one study, 500 wooden solar cookers were given to a refugee camp. Three months later they had been chopped
|up and used for firewood. The social scientist concluded that traditional cooking methods were too culturally ingrained, and people were unwilling to adapt.|
The UN did note one
success. In a northern Mexican community lacking fuel wood, they found
that the cookers were still in use five years later. This showed that it
was possible to get cookers out to people in need.
Here are some
guidelines for cooking a full meal is a main course (meat, fish, or
poultry) plus rice, steamed vegetable or other side dish. We will assume
that an average cooking time of two hours for the oven and one hour for
the range is necessary to cook a full meal.
main dish (meat, fish, or
poultry) would thus be a partial meal and require only two hours cooking
time for the oven.
(something cooked on
the range) would equal one hour cooking time. Cookies or a snack would
require half-an-hour of oven time.
food, with the exception of
cookies and open-faced cheese sandwiches, are cooked in containers with
the lids on. The dark, porcelain-coated round and oval roasters are the
best for most of the cooking and baking in the solar cooker. (The 9-inch
round roaster makes a beautiful round loaf of bread). Be sure to use hot
pads when removing the pots from the oven; the food will be hot!
We suggest your
first attempt at solar cooking, should start with something easy such as
chicken, hamburgers, rice, baked potatoes, zucchini, or a gingerbread
Food such as roasts, stews, casseroles, poultry, potatoes, carrots, pot roasts and rice are almost impossible to overcook; therefore, the timing on the food is not critical.
Chicken will still
be juicy and will fall off the bone when solar cooked four hours instead
of the needed two hours. The major advantage of solar cooking is the
flexibility in cooking times. You can remove the food any time after it
In cooking fresh
fish, you can judge when the fish is cooked thoroughly when juice begins
to drop. If you cook fish on a rack, it is easy to see this change. Then
check to see that the fish is cooked to the bone in the thickest part.
For best results, do
not overcook the following food: green vegetables, cookies, cakes, and
unearthed from my research or all the recipes I found “under the sun”
Please note I have tried none of these recipes in the solar
cooking fashion. However, many of them sound really good and could be
adaptable to modern day, conventional cooking methods.
is how I make our solar tea.
sprigs of freshly picked and washed mint
Crush the mint slightly before adding it to the water. Leave in sun
|all day. A jar can be painted black to increase temperature and keep an "off taste" from forming.|
Here is how they make solar tea in Tibet.
to 3 teaspoons loose tea or tea bags
Pour water into
gallon jar. Add tea into a tea ball and drop into a gallon jar.
Place a lid onto the jar loosely (to allow more expansion while the jar
heats) and place the jar on the cardboard sun reflector facing the sun.
in sun all day and
then cool it overnight outdoors (this keeps the tea from becoming
bitter).Tip - using the black painted jar and sun reflector increases
the amount of heat generated in the jar and prevents photochemical
reactions from giving the tea an off flavor - which occurs when sunlight
shines directly on the tea.
Mix 1 1/2 cups
Bisquick with water until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 20 strokes.
Gently smooth dough into ball on floured cloth-covered board.
Knead 5 times, roll dough to fit bottom of 9-inch dark roaster pan.
Ease into pan. Bake covered 1 hour, then add other ingredients.
Bake ground beef and
onions, salt, pepper for one hour in dark round roaster; drain grease.
Add 2 tablespoons Bisquick and Worcestershire sauce to the meat. Blend
thoroughly, and then add the mixture to top of baked bottom crust.
Mix eggs with small curd cottage cheese, pour over beef mixture.
Arrange slices of tomatoes on top, sprinkle with shredded cheddar
cheese. Cover and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
|Butter a dark oblong or dark round
roaster pan. Spread chili on bottom, then layer the olives, then
layer the cheese. In a separate pan, mix Bisquick, milk, and eggs
and pour over the cheese. Cover and bake until brown, about 1 1/2
In a dark round
roaster, mix together eggs, cottage cheese, grated cheese, flour and
slat. Thaw broccoli, drain and mix into egg mixture. Cover
and bake 1 hour. (may use 1 large or 2 small heads of fresh
|Place fish fillets in oiled dark casserole, sprinkle with seasoning and green onions. Dot the top of fish with butter and lemon juice. Cover. Cook briefly, until tender. If using frozen fish, you will need liquid - try some soy sauce|
|Cook zucchini in boiling, salted water until barely tender. Drain well. Sauté beef until meat is lightly browned. Add rice and seasonings. Place half the zucchini in bottom of 2 1/2 quart shallow dark casserole. Cover with beef mixture and cottage cheese. Cover with remaining zucchini. Then spread soup over all. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover. Bake about 1 hour until bubbly and hot.|
Vegetarian Walnut loaf
|In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Bake in a buttered 8 x 14-inch dark loaf pan. Cover with foil, then place a black cookie sheet over the top to attract the sun's rays. Serve with tomato sauce or mushroom gravy. Season to taste.|
|Preheat solar oven. Bone and fry 4 chicken breasts using conventional heat. Do not overcook. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, mix together undiluted soup, sour cream, lemon juice and curry. Set aside. In a dark rectangular pan, line the bottom with broccoli. Cut up the chicken and place it over the broccoli. Top with sour cream mixture. Top everything with shredded cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Cover and place in oven. Bake about 1 to 1 ½ hours.|
|Spray the pie pan with oil. Place eggs
into a bowl and wire whisk them until well beaten. Stir in all the rest
except the asparagus tips. Pour mixture into pie pan. Gently place the
asparagus tips in a wheel-spoke design around top of quiche. Crush more
black pepper over top if desired.
some oil to a pan or saucepan, but not too much. Carefully place
the egg & season with salt. Place the pan or saucepan (without lead)
on the solar cooker. Cover the pan with a plastic bag, in such a way
that the egg can be seen (it is possible to cook 2 eggs at a time).
Leave it under the sun until the white of the egg becomes really white.
(If left longer the yoke will harden). Cooking time: 30 minutes.
course we have all heard that old chestnut, “it was hot enough to fry
eggs on the sidewalk.”
|In a covered casserole, soften onion, celery and butter at 250°F about 30 minutes. Add one small can of tomato sauce and Spanish seasonings. Heat thoroughly. Break eggs into a bowl, uncover the casserole and gently pour eggs into the sauce. Cover and cook until eggs are firm.|
B Q chicken
|Place chicken pieces in a dark pan. Combine ingredients and pour over the chicken pieces. Cover and bake in solar oven for 2 to 3 hours.|
Turkey with Stuffing
Sauté onions and celery in butter. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Stuff turkey and place in black roasting pan; cover. Bake in solar oven for 6 to 8 hours (on a clear, sunny day). Bird is done when interior temperature reaches 180°F on meat thermometer.
|Place brown rice in bottom of dark roaster. Add chicken breasts. Layer with grated cheese, then mushrooms and pour soup over top. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Cover. Bake for 3 hours or longer.|
and sour chicken
1 15-oz. can sweet and sour sauce
1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks or tidbits, drained
1 chicken breast or 2 chicken legs
|If using chicken breasts, cut them in half and remove skin. Cut into small chunks. Place in dark pan. Add sauce and pineapple. Cover and bake for 2 to 3 hours. Serve over brown or white rice.|
|Combine ingredients except pork chops. Make a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Place pork chops on top of the ingredients. Pour remainder of ingredients on top of meat. Cover and cook 2 to 3 hours. Pour off juice and save for gravy. Add mushroom soup, cover and cook 1 hour longer. Gravy may be thickened by adding flour.|
Swedish Meat balls
|Mix together the ham, pork, bread crumbs, eggs and milk. Shape into balls about the size of an egg. Place in round dark roaster pan. Combine the dry mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, water, and flour. Pour over the meatballs. Cover and bake in solar oven 3 to 4 hours or until meat is done.|
Pot Roast and vegetables
2 to 3 pound chuck roast (1 1/2 to 2 inches thick)
3 to 4 carrots, cut in 3-inch lengths
3 to 4 potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch lengths
2 tablespoons water
1 package dry onion soup mix
|Place vegetables in bottom of dark granite pan and sprinkle with water. Put meat on top and sprinkle with package of soup mix. Cover and bake 3 to 4 hours or longer. Thicken gravy if desired.|
|Mix together meat, crumbs, soup mix, eggs and sauce. Shape into a loaf and place in a dark loaf pan. Top with bacon slices. Put loaf pan inside a dark roaster, cover and bake for 3 hours.|
|Indoors, using conventional stove top, heat "Dutch oven" or
other suitable browning/stewing utensil that has a dark exterior.
Mix seasonings with flour and shake onto meat. Place fat in
"Dutch oven", add meat and brown on all sides. Add
onions and carrots. Turn heat off. Combine the remaining
ingredients and pour over meat. Cover and cook in solar oven for
about 3 hours.
second bean soup.
1 cup of mixed beans (7-bean, 10-bean etc. - frequently sold in bulk bins)
1 bouillon cube (chicken, beef, vegetable, etc.) or 1 teaspoon bouillon broth powder
The '30 seconds' refers to how long it takes to prepare this soup. If you are lazy you do not need to pre-soak the beans. Put beans and bouillon in 32 oz. black-painted mason jar. Fill jar with water to within 1 inch of neck line. Seal with black-painted ring and lid (oil the inside parts of the lid and ring first). Cooks in 2.5 to 8 hours depending on conditions, solar cooker type, etc.
second split pea and potato soup.
1 cup split peas (frequently sold in bulk bins)
1 bouillon cube (chicken, beef, vegetable, etc.) or 1 teaspoon bouillon broth powder
1/2 cup diced potato pieces
Put peas, potatoes, and bouillon in 32 oz. black-painted mason jar. Or, if using a 26 oz. jar, use only 3/4 cup of split peas. Fill jar with water to within 1 inch of neck line. Seal with black-painted ring and lid (oil the inside parts of the lid and ring first). Cooks in 2.5 to 8 hours depending on conditions, solar cooker type, etc.
2 1/2 pounds top round roast
1 can mushroom soup
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup celery, chopped
|Slit roast and put garlic cloves into slits. Place in a dark pan, cover and bake 3 hours. Pour off liquid and save for gravy. Add remaining ingredients, cover and cook 1/2 to 2 hours longer|
1 32-oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 pound ricotta cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz. package of lasagna noodles
|Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce over bottom of dark roaster. Coat
uncooked noodles with ricotta cheese and layer over the sauce. Add
half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers of sauce, noodles and
cheese. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese
over the top. Cover and bake for 3 hours. Optional: 1
pound of ground beef cooked in a separate dark pan may be added to the
sauce before preparing the lasagna.
If ricotta cheese is unavailable, fat free cottage cheese can be
|Cut zucchini into 1/2 inch diagonal slices; place in dark enamel pan, and season with with butter, oregano and garlic. Do not add water. Cover and bake 45 minutes.|
Corn on the Cob
Fresh corn with husks
1 tablespoon water
|Pull back the husks, but do not remove. Clean corn and remove
silks. Fold up the husks to cover the corn. Place in a black
roaster and add water. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Drain the
husk and submerge corn in ice water. Drain, cut the kernels from
the cob, package and freeze
Mix Spring Vegetables
||Take a mixture of vegetables, like leeks, courgettes, French beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, pepper, tomatoes or any other type. Wash and slice them and place in a pan. Add water to cover the vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Add 1 or 2 sliced cloves of garlic and a bay leaf. Add a little vegetable oil. Cooking time: 6 to 8 hours.|
Dutch Rye Bread
|Mix all ingredients together. Cover and let stand overnight. Add more wheat flour if necessary in order to shape loaf. Roll loaf in wheat germ. Place loaf in loaf pan and place in a dark colored pan, cover, and cook in solar oven all day or all afternoon. When completely cooled, wrap in moist towel, waxed paper or plastic, and refrigerate for one or two days before serving with butter, cream cheese, to accompany soups, etc.|
3 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 12-oz. can of beer, at room temperature
|Mix first three ingredients together and place in buttered black pan with lid. Place cheese slices on top. Cover. Cook in solar oven for 2 or 3 hours.|
1 package yeast
2 cups water
4 1/2 cups white flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
|Dissolve yeast in one cup lukewarm water. Sift flour with sugar and salt into a large bowl. Stir in dissolved yeast. Add just enough of the second cup of water to hold dough together. Mix until dough is sticky. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled. Butter or grease a round roaster and add dough to dark pan. Let rise another half hour. Cover. Bake in solar oven until golden brown, about 2 hours.|
|Hot Fruit Dish
|Slice bananas. Cut apples into eights (peel if desired) and place apples into lemon water to keep from discoloring. Drain. Mix fruit, cinnamon and cloves. Cover. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Serves 4.|
|Quick Raisin Pie
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick pie crust mixwhipping cream
|Cream butter and sugar together until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla (mixture will be slightly curdled.) Add raisins and walnuts. Crumble the pie crust mix into filling mixtures, stirring until well distributed. Pour into a greased 9-inch amber casserole or black granite roaster. Cover and bake in solar cooker approximately 1 1/2 hours. (It has a cake-like appearance when done. Cool and serve cold or warm with whipped cream or ice cream.|
|Melt shortening and chocolate together in solar cooker; cool. Beat eggs until light; stir in sugar, then chocolate mixture and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mix well. Add nuts. Bake in greased 9-inch round dark roaster pan, covered, for one hour. Cut into squares.|
|In a small bowl, beat together egg, honey, melted butter, and vanilla. In another bowl, sift together flour, soda and nutmeg. Add oats and walnuts to the flour mixture. Stir. Add the egg mixture to dry ingredients. Mix well. Bake in a covered, buttered 9 x 9 inch pan. Raisins and/or carob chips may be added.|
Sugar, brown and white
Do not peel apples. Core. Fill cavity with sugars. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Place in dark pan. Cover and bake 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
|Place the baking mix in a bowl.
Add milk and oil stirring only 20 times. Gently smooth the dough
into a ball. Knead 5 times. Divide dough into 32 parts.
Roll each into pencil-like strips, then twist into a pretzel shape.
Brush all twists with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt. Cover and
bake in solar oven until done, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Place nuts on a
cookie sheet. Bake uncovered. Almonds need about an hour
(they will scorch with longer cooking). Peanuts can bake for 2
hours without scorching.
|Hopefully, this article will give you a very good idea of whether or
not solar cooking is for you.
Who knows what the future will bring. Perhaps a major breakthrough
will occur and easy and fast solar cooking will materialize.
Then we will look back on these primitive solar cooking equipment
and laugh as we do when we see an old sci fi or Buck Rogers movie.
We compare those ideas to what we know that is done in outer
“Tread the Earth Lightly” and in the meantime… may your day be filled with….Peace, light and
), free lance writer, award winning artist and avid gardener is
mother of 5 and the grandmother of 8.
For almost 40 years she was an International real estate
consultant and during the last 20 years of her career traveled to many
parts of the world. She
has been a cancer and stroke survivor since 1992.
While working and raising her children she had many hobbies
including being a very serious home-vintner for approximately 14 years
while residing in upstate New York in St. Lawrence County producing
2,000 to 3,000 bottles of wine a year.
She was the president of the St. Lawrence County chapter of the
American Wine Society in Potsdam
"Tread the Earth Lightly" & in the meantime
may your day be filled with...
Peace, Light, and Love,
All rights reserved.