This year the Tucson Solar Potluck will be celebrating the art of solar cooking for the 34th consecutive year with a gathering of solar chefs at Catalina State Park on April 30.
All About Solar Cookers 5
Solar cooking tips
· Solar cookers may not look hot, but temperatures of 120 to 425 degrees will certainly burn your fingers. Use potholders.
· Intense reflected light could permanently damage your eyes. Children in particular have a tendency to stand in the brightness of reflected light and should be carefully watched around solar cookers.
· Keep the lid closed so that appetizing fumes, do not escape into the air and attract animals and insects. If a curious animal does approach the cooker, a closed lid prevents unwanted dinner guests.
Solar chefs are limited only by their imagination. Almost any dish becomes a delicious treat when cooked in a solar cooker –beans, bread, cookies, roasts, vegetables and many others.
Most standard recipes translate favorably to solar cookers but require less water or liquid. Solar chefs also find they need less salt and sugar in solar-cooked foods because of the gentle cooking process.
Temperature and Timing:
Solar cookers should be placed in the sun and preheated for at least one hour before placing food inside. Many, high-quality solar cookers reach temperatures of 350 to 425 degrees or more and cook dinner in the same amount of time as conventional ovens. Other models reach temperatures of only 150 degrees. A barbecue thermometer is a useful tool.
To reach maximum temperature and fastest cooking time, the cooker should be aimed directly at the sun. It should be turned every 20-30 minutes to maintain a direct angle. Some solar chefs setout cookers in the morning, aiming them toward the sun’s midday position. By late afternoon, dinner is ready to eat without ever refocusing the cooker.
Cooking between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is best in Arizona’s winter months. In summer, the sky’s the limit!
Clear weather is essential. On partially cloudy days, solar cooking takes longer. On extremely cloudy days, we suggest that you rely on the old energy-consumer standbys like house ovens or barbecues.
Outside temperature has little effect on solar cooking; if the sky is clear, you can cook on a snowbank high in the mountains.
Pots and other utensils:
Use either dark, or clear glass pots when cooking in solar cookers. Dark pots absorb light readily and clear glass allows light to directly reach the food. Avoid foil or aluminum containers that reflect light away.
Closed containers hold-in heat and will cook food more quickly. Some people even use canning jars. Brown-in bags are excellent for cooking meat.
Cooking times: (NOTE: 450g = 1 lb)
Potatoes (300g + 1 spoonful water) 2 hours
Carrots (250g + 1 onion, no water) 2 hours
2 eggs (+ 1 spoonful water) 1 hour
Lentils (100g + 250g water) 1.5 hours
White rice (80g + 160g water) 1.25 hours
Brown rice (80g + 160g water) 2 hours
Red beans (100g + 200g water) 2.5 hours