The Solar Cooker: A Sun-Powered Oven
Long ago, somebody looked at that giant fiery ball in the sky and told himself, “Gosh, all this free energy! Wouldn’t it be awesome to use it for, say, cooking?”
Later on, the solar cooker sprung into existence! A marvellous invention that, through the power of some unknown sorcery, has the ability to cook and heat up food.
All you tree-hugging hipsters out there will love it since this simple device allows you to prepare meals in a completely eco-friendly way!
Probably half of you have a solar cooker in your backyard, and you’re reading this lens with an impish smirk, thinking, “Yep, I do have one in my backyard! I care more about nature than most people.” Well, good for you, Mr Eco-Friendly!
On the other hand, if this is the first time you hear about the solar cooker and want to learn more about this wonderful device, stick around! We will take a comprehensive look at this particular type of oven.
How The Solar Cooker Works
First of all, the solar oven has nothing to do with sorcery. It uses direct sun rays to warm up, cook, and pasteurise foods and drinks. So it is obviously most definitely nature-friendly!
The entire process can be broken down into four main principles:
Sunlight concentration. Metal (or metallised) film and a reflective mirror surface focus light and heat from the sun on a small area where the food is placed. The energy becomes more and more concentrated until its heating power is enough to cook. You can think of it as a miniature vampire incinerator that can also roast a meatloaf.
Conversion of light to heat. The inner parts of the solar cooker improve the effectiveness of the oven by turning light into heat through light absorption (a complicated psychical phenomenon).
Heat-trapping. Reduction of convection is mandatory, and it is usually achieved by isolating the air inside the cooker from the outside air. Tightly sealed glass covers that keep the hot air inside are used. Also, this way, you can reach high temperatures even on chilly and windy days.
A transparent cover. A special glass allows visible light to pass but does not allow for infrared thermal radiation to leave. Just like the planet Venus, we think.
There is a wide variety of solar ovens, but most follow the principles mentioned above.
The Advantages of Solar Cooking
Solar cooking is kind of awesome. Your food is cooked by THE SUN ITSELF! How extravagant is that?
However, having your own solar oven has many other legitimate benefits. Here are a few examples:
A forgiving cooking method. It is very difficult to overcook your food with a solar oven. Also, sun-cooked meals do not burn. This way, even an amateur cook is turned into an outdoor gourmet. You’d have to be one of those poor souls on a Gordon Ramsay TV show to burn a meal with this type of cooker.
It’s free. Once you get your own solar cooker, you can cook all you want without spending a dime. After all, you don’t need any electricity, gas or charcoal, which brings us to our next point.
It’s friendly towards the environment. No electricity or fossil fuels are required, so our lovely planet is not robbed of its precious resources. Also, the air isn’t plagued by smoke or greenhouse gases.
No danger of fire. Solar cookers are usually allowed in parks where open-flame cooking is forbidden. At least you can be sure your picnic won’t cause a fiery inferno. Be careful, though, the possibility of a bear attack is always there.
Flexible. Solar ovens are very light, and you can take them anywhere. You can easily situate them in your car and head off for an outing with your family and friends. Just, you know, watch out for bears.
It saves you time. A sun-powered cooker is very easy to use. Also, you will spend less time preparing the food. In addition, it is very easy to clean and maintain because of its even temperatures. Since it prevents food from burning, it won’t scorch your pots and pans. And if you are too tired to clean your solar on your own, you can always turn to a company for professional oven cleaning.
It is tons of fun – You will be baffled to put food in a metal box and take out a delectable and moist sun-cooked meal. But in time, you will get used to it and reap the benefits of your very own solar cooker.
The Disadvantages of Solar Cooking
Well, even this genius invention has its downsides.
For starters, a solar oven is significantly less useful when the weather is cloudy and in areas near the poles where the sun is scarce.
Another legitimate downside is solar ovens take longer to cook food. This means the meal preparation has to start hours before it’s time to eat. In other words, solar cooking simply doesn’t fit everyone’s lifestyle.
And, of course, there is the most obvious downside: you can’t cook at night!
Sometimes cooks have to learn special cooking techniques in order to properly fry some common foods such as eggs or flatbread like tortillas and chapatis. Thick foods such as big roasts or loaves of bread are difficult to cook with a solar oven. Properly preparing a soup may also present a challenge.
Strong winds are also problematic since they can slow the cooking process significantly and move the reflector. In some cases, it is best to restrict the reflector so it won’t be moved by the blowing wind.
By now, you’re surely convinced that using the awesome power of the sun has many advantages, especially when it comes to cooking.
Preparing meals with a solar cooker will not only save you money but also ensure you eat more healthy, which can add years to your life.
Sure, there are a few obvious disadvantages, but overall this type of oven is well worth it. Just don’t throw your regular one away, you know, in case it’s raining.