Today the great smell of Chili Verde Meat filled the air as the sun cooked a 4 pound roast to mouthwatering goodness.
This is a picture of the first of many solar cookers we made about five years ago all from recycled or found materials. We are still experimenting with design. For example, I painted the inside of this metal box black thinking it would make it hotter. I soon found out that while black does create heat, cooking with the sun does not simply use heat to cook.
The science: The UV light rays enter through the glass and then coverts to infrared light rays. Infrared radiation makes molecules vibrate in the food, releasing energy as heat. The glass lid traps the energy and the food cooks. I have to say that the texture of the meat is different than cooked in an oven, crock pot or smoked. Once we cooked our Chile Verde this way it became our favorite.
Any slow cooker recipe works. We even throw frozen lasagna in the solar oven and it is cooked perfectly when I get home from work. I haven’t been able to bring myself to cook raw chicken yet. The temp gets to be around 250 and even though the science states that UV light rays are doing the cooking, I don’t trust it for chicken.
We have found that a great UV accelerator that works in our solar oven and actually I think would even work in a cardboard box. We recently installed a Solatube skylight in our home. The bright reflective tube was too long so we cut off about 18″. I think this is standard and one might be able to ask around to Solatube installers to ask if they would donate the excess. I am going to try that on my next one. The discarded piece is just large enough to encircle a crock pot insert and works efficiently.
There are a lot of different types of solar ovens out there. You Tube has a lot of how to instructions. We had fun trying to round up materials in our yard or off of Craigslist free. We use it year round and things don’t really cook much faster in the summer, but it sure makes a great way to keep the kitchen cool.