Sunday, February 10, 2013

Taking Advantage of an Abundance

One thing that Florida has plenty of is sun.  This time of year, it attracts people from all over the country - northern hemisphere in fact - for days like today.  This morning, it was close to 60 and the high didn't quite hit 80, with a nice breeze from the Northeast.  Our population swells with "snowbirds" who come here to get out of the worst of winter.  In the spring, usually after Easter, those people leave, and the rest of us live in a hot, steamy place. 

In a combination "science project" and preparedness project, Mrs. Graybeard bought a solar oven made by these guys.  We picked it up here, on a good sale - keep your eyes on it if you're thinking of one.  Or course, you can make a simple solar oven, with a couple of boxes, or reflective insulation panels, and we played with one of those a while back.  This one is full of good improvements, like a glass lid that makes a good seal, easy ways to change the angle of the box toward the sun, and a cooking rack that swivels so that nothing spills.    Think of taking the idea, living with it for a while, all the while figuring out ways to improve it and make it more useful, and you'll end up with something like this.  They boast it will allow you to roast an 18 pound turkey, and I have no doubts you could.   

With only a little effort to keep it centered on the sun, the built in thermometer said the oven was 325.  Today had more clouds and it was closer to 250.  Of course, 325 is a decent baking temperature and 250 will cook things, just more slowly.  One of the fun things you can do in these, is "hard boil" eggs;  I use the quotes because there is no water used.  You simply put the eggs in a holder - a cardboard egg carton is ideal - and they hard cook in around half an hour.  These were after about 45 minutes:
A tin of corn muffins cooked in about the same time, maybe an hour.
They're fully baked inside and taste great.  Yeah, we ate the first four before taking this picture. 

In addition to baking, you can dehydrate foods, and pasteurize water to make it safe to drink. They claim that you can use it like a slow cooker - put your food in it before you leave for the day, point the oven where the sun will maximize heat around mid-day, and your meal should be slow cooked when you get home.  We haven't tried that.  We're still experimenting with the performance we get out of it. 


  1. Much interesting. Might I request a favor as you edumakate yourself on the workings? I'd guess you have temperature sensing equipment, some of which may have varying degrees of remoteness. I've got a Thermoworks thermometer with about a 22" probe cable (used to be on Amazon, don't see them now, but they're $24 from the mfg). There seem to be several solar cookbooks, I don't know how good they are, don't know if you're using one; there's even a "solar oven society" (based in Minnesota, no less) about which I know nothing.

    It would be interesting, and useful, to see some data as you continue to experiment with it.

    1. Sounds like a plan. We have two remote probe thermometers which we use all the time with our smoker. I'm not sure how usable they'd be with the solar oven. We will keep playing with it, and should keep records. I can post them here.