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Using The Sun Oven

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How Is A Sun Oven Like A Kitchen Stove.

First off the SUN OVEN reaches an inside temperature of 350 degrees F. or more on an average sunny day, so most oven dishes in your cookbook are appropriate! Casseroles and stews, roast meats and vegetables, breads and cakes are all easily prepared in a solar oven just like a regular oven. People don't usually cook beans, rice, boil potatoes and grains in their kitchen oven but the SUN OVEN does this best! Legumes requiring many hours of stove top simmering are perfectly tender after several hours under the sun, with minimal attention. Rice and potatoes are cooked taking the same time as usual if the SUN OVEN is allowed to pre-heat.

Stir frying and sautéing are not recommended inside a SUN OVEN. This is not that they can't be done, but because the gentle, uniform heat inside a solar oven greatly prolongs the cooking process and the sealed cooking chamber makes the reduction of sauces difficult. Stove top cooking concentrates heat on the bottom of the pan, allowing rapid evaporation of cooking liquid but risks scorching. The cooking chamber inside the SUN OVEN is tightly closed and moist so vegetables need no cooking water. Meats and poultry need no oil to prevent sticking, making the SUN OVEN perfect for low fat diets! The technique of brazing, or the slow simmering of vegetables or meats in water, broth or wine is a very amiable match for solar cooking.

How The Sun Oven Is Not Like The Kitchen Stove.
To begin with, there is no fuel used so no pollution is created, no greenhouse gasses generated, no forests cut down, no strip mining, no new dams on beautiful waterways, no need for nuclear power plants, no acid rain, no energy bills AND it's practically impossible to ruin food!

HOWEVER, your SUN OVEN is not the handy, finger touch controlled, programmable-with-alarm kitchen tool we have become so fond of. With a little practice and by following some basic guidelines, the SUN OVEN will find a permanent place alongside your microwave and teapot.

Basic Guidelines
SELECTING THE COOKING SITE
The more sun exposure the better. This actually requires observation over the period of a day. Seasonal changes in the sun's position need to be observed. The hours of most intense energy from the Sun are from 10 AM to 3 PM, but cooking can certainly be done anytime oven temperatures are right. The SUN OVEN likes a wind protected area. Wind gusts to 20 mph (or more depending on direction) can be tolerated in good shape but will cause the reflectors to make an occasional unnerving rattle which is safely ignored........... The SUN OVEN can take multiple hard tumbles without harm but this certainly isn't the purpose of it, and CAN create a mess inside the oven.

PRE-HEAT THE OVEN
Pre-heating the SUN OVEN is recommended to prevent the cooking food staying in the low temperature range that allows bacterial growth (generally less than 160 degrees) An oven thermometer should be used to confirm proper cooking temperature, and for further accuracy a meat thermometer (where applicable) should be used.

COOKING CONTAINERS
Cooking pans are best made out of black or dark colored, thin walled metal. These heat up fast and the dark color tends to absorb rather than reflect the solar energy, making cooking more efficient and faster. Other oven safe materials can certainly be used, but you need to compensate with longer or hotter cooking times. Many foods, such as rice and beans, should be covered for cooking.

POINTING THE OVEN TO THE SUN
To get the hottest temperature on a particular day, adjust the SUN OVEN with open reflectors as if it were a basket trying to catch the Sun's ball. Use the oven's rear elevator and rotate the horizontal position to create the smallest shadow from the pot placed inside the oven chamber. Many times the hottest temperature is not desired so the oven may be placed off axis. Adjust the oven to maintain the desired temperature and anticipate the sun's motion by setting the oven slightly ahead of the sun's flight. This way adjustments need only be made every hour or so, depending on weather.

RELEASE BUILT-UP STEAM
Once the cooking process gets going, steam will usually be released from moist foods and accumulate on the glass oven door. Since this slightly shields incoming solar energy, it is helpful to release this condensation by opening the door a second or two (with a gloved hand to prevent being burned by the escaping steam.) You will find that when cooking some things, like rice, the steamed glass will signal a finished dish.

USE HOT PADS!
After a cooking vessel has been sitting in the SUN OVEN for a few minutes, it may look quite cool but is actually quite HOT! Always use hot gloves or pads when touching pots in the oven!

KEEP CLEAN AND STORE PROPERLY
Use a clean, soft, dry cloth to keep dust and dirt off the reflectors and glass door. Never use abrasive cloths or cleaners on the reflectors as this will cut down on its ability to bounce energy into the oven chamber. Mild soap and water may be used on all surfaces occasionally with soft cloth. Folding the reflector when not in use is a good idea and prevents the oven from walking away in a wind. When folding down the reflectors, squeeze them flat(next to the hinge) before the final placement against the glass. This makes the button strap easy to use. Once closed the SUN OVEN can be carried without fear of harm by the case handle. Like all tools, storing the SUN OVEN inside is advised for maximum life. However, extensive field testing has shown the oven's resilience when exposed to prolonged harsh weather.

USING THE SUN OVEN: SPECIAL NOTES
COOKING WITH ANIMAL PRODUCTS

As in all forms of cooking meat, a lagging temperature can permit bacterial growth so an adequate oven temperature must always be maintained! During days of heavy haze or intermittent cloudiness the cooking of animal products is not recommended unless a oven air temperature of at least 160 degrees F. or more is constantly maintained. A good rule of thumb is to reserve cooking with animal products only on bright, cloudless days. One of the ways to achieve a safe oven temperature is by pre-heating the SUN OVEN to at least 300 degrees F. Pre-heating the cooking pot on the conventional stove to quickly bring the temperature up is helpful also.

COOKING SMALL AMOUNTS OF SMALL ITEMS
Burning may occur if small dry items such as nuts, dry peppers, herbs or spices are roasted alone in a pan in small amounts. When cooking these things avoid full sun exposure for more than 10-20 minutes.

BROWNING MEATS AND BREAD
Under ideal conditions, the SUN OVEN will reach about 400 degrees F. This is not hot enough to put that thin layer of char on meat or provide robust dark brown crust on certain breads. Although these matters are culinary subtleties that have more to do with presentation than taste and texture, the subject deserves a comment. If meats or poultry are desired with a browned exterior, just do it the way you do usually before placing in the SUN OVEN. A darker finished luster on heavier breads like whole grained types can be achieved by increasing the refined sugar content or adding a tablespoon of malt sugar per loaf to the recipe.

PASTA
Preparing pasta requires a sharp sense of timing in a solar oven. Pasta unattended very quickly goes beyond the al dente" to the all mushy". Currently there is no law against this. Of course, noodles can be included in casseroles and baked along with other ingredients as usual. Some people use the SUN OVEN to pre-heat water, transfer it to the regular stove top and reach an immediate rolling boil. This saves a tremendous amount of energy but a pot with securable lid is mandatory for safety.

Solar Recipes

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