My Solar Oven | Cooking with Sunshine
Solar Ovens for everyone
I imagine most parts of the world would be suitable for solar ovens. Cooking with sunshine is so effective and easy.
To my way of thinking, every home should use a solar cooker for at least part of the year.
- People who live off-grid like I do need to be creative about cooking. Winter meals are taken care of when we have a fire raging in our wood-burner stove, but we work hard to keep our homes cool during summer. Cooking with sunshine eliminates the need for generating extra heat indoors.
- Power blackouts can shut down modern kitchens. Without power, how will you prepare meals? You may be happy with sandwiches for the first day ... but what if the power outage is lengthy?
- Looking for a way to save some dollars on your electricity (or LPG) bill? Access to the sunshine in your garden is free.
- Eager to cook healthy meals and avoid cooking with fats, or boiling the life out of your vegetables?
- Rather be outdoors enjoying the sunshine or playing with your kids instead of slaving over a hot stove? lol. I love pottering in my garden and occasionally wandering past my solar oven to 'check how dinner's going'. :)
- If you are a doomsday prepper who stores mountains of food, how are you intending to cook it?
Solar ovens cook food for free
When the sun is shining, solar energy is free for all to use. My solar cooker is perfect for harnessing the sunshine and fresh food cooked with solar energy tastes great.
Find a spot in the sunshine protected from wind and set up a solar oven. The ideal position is in a paved courtyard or where accidental heat spread to the surrounding area will not cause damage to table tops or surrounding garden.
Every now and then I need to raise or lift the lid and perhaps spin my oven a little to catch the strongest sunlight, but the resulting meal is always worth the effort.
My solar oven in action
When using a solar cooker in the hot summer sun, the reflected heat must hit the oven face not the surrounding earth. Dry summer grass can potentially catch alight from the increased heat, a lot like starting a fire with a magnifying glass.
If you are cooking with sunshine, be responsible and aware.
Cooking chicken, rice and veges in a Tulsi solar oven
Cookware for solar ovens
The best cookware for solar cooking is black. Over the years I have accumulated a diverse range of black cookware.
My Tulsi solar oven came with a set of four small stainless steel tubs painted black with black painted lids. The little tubs are not fancy to look at but they are great for cooking vegetables and other dishes.
I love to bake bread and my solar oven happily accommodates my bread rolls and smaller bread tins. I have to be careful not to put too much dough in the bread tins though because there is limited height within the cooking area. If the bread rises too much I'll potentially have it stuck to the glass.
As a general rule it is much better to use smaller containers than one large one, even if it means splitting a large casserole or soup into multiple containers. Quite apart from the height restriction it takes less time to heat and cook a smaller volume.
Cooking within Sustainable Communities
A growing number of sustainable communities are being established by design, but many sustainable communities simply develop around like-minded families.
The electricity grid reaches our pocket of the world, but my family chooses not to be connected to it. The five homes we visit most often in our local area are also completely off the grid.
Our community shares ideas and tools for sustainability.
I am the longest user of solar power for cooking and provide tips and the benefits of my experience to others, just as those with lots of experience building and using pizza ovens have been extremely helpful when my husband and I decided we wanted to learn more.
Pizza ovens and wood burning stoves are great in the winter when you need the additional warmth they produce, but you can't beat cooking with sunshine during summer months.
Buy your own Tulsi solar oven
This is the hybrid version of the same solar oven I own. As well as cooking purely with sunshine (see the video above), it can also be plugged into electric power at night or during cloudy days - an advantage over mine.
Complaints about Tulsi solar ovens
I have had my Tulsi solar oven for over six years. I've never written a review about it until now but I have seen both positive and negative reports on the internet.
The negative reports complain about things like not liking the lock on the front and having to replace the screws in the hinge at the back of the unit.
Interesting that I've never found complaints about the taste of the food or the ability of the Tulsi solar oven to deliver hot meals without costing one cent in power which, to my mind, are the key factors for consideration. :)
A number of reviewers complain that the ovens would be far more impressive and less 'shoddy' had they been made in America instead of in India. They are complimentary about the food, but complain because the black paint has become damaged on their cooking capsules.
My experience with the Tulsi solar oven
Well, my solar oven gets quite a workout here in Australia and I have nothing to complain about.
Yes, we had to replace the screws that came loose in the hinge that lifts the glass cover to allow you to put the food in place, but it wasn't a big deal. We used the same screws.
We've never had to worry about the actual box itself or its lid with the mirror inside. Hard to believe, but even the sticker on the front is still in good order. Perhaps the longevity of the product has something to do with how you look after it.
Regarding the black paint around the outside of the cooking tubs and inside the base of the box, I still have all the paint in place. (I don't toss my painted tubs in a dishwashing machine, I don't use a rough scourer on any of the surfaces and I don't allow the tubs to rub against other pots and pans in the back of my cupboard.)
I treat my solar oven and the cookware I use in it with respect because I am very grateful for the way they perform. Does that make a difference? I guess perhaps it does.
Reviewers rarely mention just what they expect from a product. If you expect your stainless steel cooking utensils that are covered with black paint to cope with the same kind of treatment you give plastic or ceramic dishes, you're bound to be disappointed.
I am happy to contribute to the Indian economy just as I am happy to buy good products from anywhere in the world. I actually I cook quite a lot of Indian food in my solar oven. Makes a wonderful curry.
Tulsi Cooking Tubs
Solar cooking is so popular now there are many recipe books for inspiration.
Different types of solar ovens
My Tulsi solar oven works just as a solar oven ought to and I am happy to recommend it. My one regret is not buying the Hybrid version made by Tulsi. I wasn't even aware they had one at the time.
I spotted the 100% solar version in a store here in Australia and bought it. Living in a very h-o-t part of Australia at the time, it was perfect.
Now that I live in a region with four seasons including a winter with frustratingly short daylight hours I can see great benefits in having a solar cooker that can be plugged into the power on cloudy days.
I don't know which other companies make a similar hybrid solar cooker but unless I hear of something absolutely brilliant for a similar price, my next purchase will be another Tulsi.
Solar ovens and a Sustainable Future
If you don't yet have a solar oven, I suggest you start saving to buy one. They are a tool to help provide us with a sustainable future, and protect us from all kinds of vulnerabilities - including economic collapse.
Solar ovens are weather-dependent so you may not be able to cook with sunshine every day, but the days you do will be a real treat!
Not as cheap as some other brands ... but All American.
If you prefer to buy American-made products, here's one for you. It certainly has more internal space than mine. You can buy the oven without the accessories, but they only add about $30 to the basic price for the extra bits. If you don't want the hassle of finding racks etc, this looks like a good package.
© 2013 LongTimeMother