If you’re wanting to go “off the grid” and be as self sufficient as you can, there are lots of doable adjustments and changes you can make to your lifestyle. Hanging clothes out to dry, planting a large garden, using a wood stove, and cooking from scratch are just a few of the steps you can take to be less dependent on electronics for basic household tasks or commercial stores. Harnessing the sun’s energy for use around the house and farm has been done for hundreds and hundreds of years, and modern homesteaders are finding the sun to be a valuable resource to them as well.
One of the devices that many off-grid dwellers are turning to for cooking is the solar oven. A solar oven uses the sun’s rays to cook food. It uses no electricity, no gas or oil to fuel it, and costs nothing to run – the sun is free! There’s no danger in using a solar oven because there is no open flame or harsh fumes, and no environmental impact either. Solar ovens of various types have been used for years all over the world, as it is an affordable option for lower income families. It’s a safe option all the way around.
A solar oven is a perfect choice for families wanting to minimize their energy use or carbon footprint. It’s also a great option to have at home if you find yourself in a survival situation where you may be without power for an extended period of time and have no way to use your conventional appliances to heat or cook your food. You can even sterilize water using a solar oven, another helpful task when water quality may be questionable. Solar cooking is considered “outdoor” cooking so it would also be perfect for a camping trip if you didn’t want to build a fire.
How It Works
Using a solar oven can be tricky at first. Cooking times will vary from what they would be using a traditional oven, grill, or stove. You may have to adjust the direction your oven is pointed at times to make sure it gets the maximum amount of sunlight. It might take longer to whip up a home cooked meal with this method, but the pay off is well worth it. If you want a faster cooking time, cut the food up into smaller pieces. Another bonus is that it is very hard to burn something in a solar oven, simply because it does not get hot enough, fast enough. As you use your solar oven more and more, you’ll gain confidence with your baking and cooking and will be able to plan ahead once you know cooking times for common items. You might be surprised to find that you enjoy cooking with it almost as much as a traditional cook stove and you may eventually prefer it, particularly if you are trying to live off the grid.
What can you actually cook with a solar oven? All kinds of things! You can bake bread, roast meat and vegetables, or cook up a casserole. You can also fry things (with some practice) in a solar oven. You can use the sun’s power to make scrambled eggs, bacon, or tortillas. Search the web for great recipes you can make in your solar oven and you’ll find a treasure trove of good things to eat.
How to Build a Solar Oven
Building a solar oven is actually pretty simple. There are numerous designs out there, but the most basic version only requires five inexpensive supplies: two cardboard boxes, black non-toxic paint, wheat paste or glue, aluminum foil, and a oven cooking bag. These things are all low cost and you may have them lying around the house. You can get full instructions to learn how to build a solar oven here.
Just imagine the possibilities. You could have your own solar oven in a short amount of time! It might make a fun summer activity for the family, or a great scout project. Give it a try this weekend and see how you can harness the sun’s energy for off-grid food preparations.
Have you tried solar cooking? What things have you found that you love to cook in your solar oven?