Green Outdoor Cooking a Guide to Solar Cooking

Solar cooking is used around the world out of not only necessity, but as a hobby for some people, as well. It's easy to do, doesn't require hands-on supervision for long periods of time, and it's also environmentally friendly since it doesn't need gas, wood or other forms of fuel to work. The only supplies required are an outdoor area that receives direct sunlight, a platform to put the oven on, and the solar cooker itself. The oven may have to be repositioned during the day so that it stays out of the shadows depending on how the long the food needs to cook. Some thought does have to be given to the preparation of food prior to cooking.

As a general rule, smaller food items cook better with solar energy. This means that meat, vegetables and other dishes should be prepared so that they are cut into small strips to ensure that they cook all the way through. Solar cooking does take longer than stove top cooking, which also means that meals have to be planned out at the beginning of the day. In addition to cooking full meals, solar ovens are great for dehydrating food for storage, too.

There are two main types of solar cooker: panel ovens and box ovens. Many DIY versions build upon these two concepts; however, these are not the only designs that a solar oven is limited to. For a solar oven to work, it must have a way to conduct the heat from the sun into the oven and then capture it for a sustained period of a time. This is done using reflector panels and a secure-fitting top to hold the generated heat inside the oven. Due to the simplistic nature of a solar oven, it can be constructed out of many different types of recycled materials, including pizza boxes, amply sized cans and even cardboard moving boxes. Most solar ovens meant for long term use are made out of metal, glass and some form of interior insulation.

The main benefit of solar cooking is the cost. Since the oven runs on solar energy, there are not any operating costs – anyone can have a solar oven. For this reason, this type of cooking is very beneficial in countries that have little income. Additionally, solar cooking reduces the footprint on the environment, and has the potential to lower the rate of deforestation in some areas. In turn, this destroys less native habitat and wildlife, while at the same time creating less smoke being put into the air, as well. Aside from food preparation, another significant use for a solar oven is a process called solar pasteurization. Many waterborne diseases can be prevented if the water is pasteurized prior to drinking, which is very beneficial in locations that do not have access to advanced filtering technology.

What is Solar Cooking?

Benefits of Solar Cooking

Equipment Needed for Solar Cooking

Types of Solar Ovens

DIY Solar Oven

Solar Cooking Kids Activities

Other Solar Energy Information


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