Are you prepared when the power goes out due to storms or other disasters?
A solar-powered, or sun oven, is a handy tool for cooking when public utilities are not working. For a long time, I wanted to learn to use one. It seemed an interesting challenge, and we had bought one that was sitting on the shelf.
My first attempts with a sun oven were unsuccessful as I tried to bake bread in it. It would start well with the temperature getting up to 300 degrees plus. After “brick bread” a few times, we learned that we needed to close the door tightly with the two screws meant for that purpose!
On a recent hot and sunny day, I made bread specifically so that I could use the sun oven. I only let the bread rise to about ⅔ of the height of the pan, as recommended. Then I set the sun oven to the proper angle to the sun. Things were looking good as the temperature climbed rather quickly to about 325 degrees. When I put the bread in, it dropped to around 300 or less and stayed there even after I buttoned down the hatch. This was a lower temperature than I would have used in a conventional oven.
I was worried that I would come out with another “brick” loaf and waited to see what would happen. The bread rose as it baked and took about 2 ½ hours to bake thoroughly. I thought it would be all dried out and hard, but to my delight, it was soft, moist, and done!
The top did not get very brown, but I learned that misting it lightly with a spray bottle of water would have fixed that. So I tried it again with misting, and it worked! I made a loaf of raisin bread in the sun oven, misted it just before baking, and it got nice and brown. And it was still nice and moist!
Next, I want to try baking potatoes in the sun oven!
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using a solar oven that I have noted:
- Environmentally friendly–no air pollution, no fossil fuels
- You don’t need to heat up your house in the summer with a stove/oven
- Cheap–We paid less than $100 for ours
- Can be used without any fuel source –No gas, electricity, or wood needed
- Completely Portable
- You can leave it cooking and come back later–similar to a crock pot in that way
- You can’t use it at night, and it’s not very effective on cloudy days
- It takes more time to cook
- Takes some practice
- You need to follow the directions that come with your sun oven.
Raisin Bread Recipe for Sun Oven
- 1 1/2 T. dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups white flour
- 1 TBS salt
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
Mix honey and water and then add yeast and dissolve. After the yeast is dissolved, stir in the coconut oil.
Mix the dry ingredients together and then add to the wet mixture. Knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased bread pan. Preferably black metal as it will hold the heat better. Let the dough rise until it is about 2/3 of the way to the top of the pan. This may take around a half-hour depending on room temperature.
Have your sun oven set up and preheated. Then place the pan on the rack and mist the top of the dough lightly with water. Close the hatch, and the bread should be done in about 2 hours. This method worked for me, with the oven temperature reaching about 300 degrees on a sunny, 95-degree day. The bread came out browned, moist, and done!