Using the free heat of the sun to cook our food is easy, fun,
effective and energy efficient. It not only replaces the fuel you would
have paid for, but during the warm months, it saves on cooling costs by
not heating up the house. Solar cooking has several other benefits, such
as lower cooking temperatures will not bum foods, so stirring is not
required. The slower, gentler cooking provided by many solar cookers
preserves more nutrients, as well as flavor and aroma. Food can simply
be placed in a solar cooker and left to cook, unattended, for several
hours. I’ve heard that some folks will place their food in the
solar oven, point it to the noon sun, and leave for the day, coming home
in the evening to a hot, cooked meal. However, if you are available to
adjust the cooker to track the sun, it will get hotter for a longer
period, cooking food in a shorter time. I made a small table that
rotates, so when I am passing the cooker, I can easily adjust it for
maximum solar input.
There are two basic types of solar cookers, the box cooker, which
will perform as an oven or slow cooker, and the cook top, which
functions more as a stove top burner, heating the food just from the
bottom of the pot. There are many variations on these types, ranging
from basic boxes made from recycled materials to high tech, expensive
The box cooker is the most common, and easiest to construct. The
links below have plans for many designs. I have built several; the
advantage of the commercial models is ease of use, longevity of the
materials, and convenience.
I am now using a commercially made box cooker nearly every sunny
day. We bake breads, cookies, and cakes in it, I make beef jerky, rice,
beans, soups, stews, and casseroles with it.
Solar cooking has many advantages, and is a low cost way for anyone
to use solar energy. The links below contain much information on the
subject, plans, where to buy commercial cookers, recipes, instructions,
and lots more. Have fun!