Can you really cook food using the Sun?
God’s great ruler of the day never ceases to amaze me. Through the ages, this blazing star has served our planet well. We are just beginning to learn how to harness its power. And in some ways this doesn’t have to be a large-scale, complex undertaking. Many times a simple solution works just fine.
I recently purchased a commercially-made solar oven produced by Sun Ovens International. I’ve been very impressed with this oven’s design and performance. I needed it for an engineering summer camp event held in July. The kids built solar ovens out of pizza boxes, but then I asked them to compare their design with the commercially-built solar cooker.
The Global Sun Oven weighs 21 pounds and conveniently folds up like a suitcase. Its dimensions are 19 inches by 19 inches with a depth of 11 inches. Four mirror-like reflectors fold out to surround the oven’s glass lid. These reflectors channel the sun’s rays into the cooker where the radiant energy is trapped and absorbed into the pots and food—a phenomenon we know as the greenhouse effect.
I have used this solar appliance three times. The first time was on an overcast day. With cloud cover, the oven doesn’t perform well; the internal temperature only reached 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The second time was much better. Clear skies produced oven temperatures of over 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I baked some smores and simmered some water. The third day, I baked a loaf of bread which turned out fantastically moist and delicious.
So what have I learned about cooking in a solar oven? Particularly, the Global Sun Oven?
- The Sun Oven is built out of non-toxic materials. With proper care, they estimate the oven to last for 15 years.
- You need clear skies for prolong time periods. Ambient temperatures aren’t as much of a factor as a blue sky and strong sunlight.
- The oven must be adjusted every 20-30 minutes to maximize internal temperatures. Or you can slow cook (like a crockpot) and leave it pointed for maximum sun exposure while you’re away at work.
- Moist foods will produce condensation on the class and that will block sun rays. This lowers the operating temperature, so you may have to periodically wipe the condensate off or somehow vent it.
- Dark thin metal pots work best. Cover with lids for better results.
- Experiment, and give yourself more cooking time than a conventional oven.
- I hope to buy or build a parabolic solar cooker in the future. These cookers operate by concentrating the sun’s rays on a small area of your cookware.
As I researched solar ovens, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these solar cooking marvels provide a very practical use in third world countries. In many places around the world, women still cook food over smoky campfires. Fuel for those fires continues to become scarcer, and they must travel longer distances to find wood. The solar oven requires only a clear sky which is exactly what you find in many of these countries. When you buy a Sun Oven, a portion of the proceeds goes toward helping third world people improve their living conditions. Perhaps this would be a great missions opportunity—providing a practical solution as the Great Message is shared.
“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day…” Genesis 1:16
“To Him who made the great lights, for His lovingkindness is everlasting: The sun to rule by day, for His lovingkindness is everlasting…“ Psalm 136: 7-8
If you’d like to learn more about how solar ovens are being used, or if you’d like to learn how to build a solar oven, please check out the links below:
Learn more about Sun Ovens: