The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Solar Cooker
The pros and cons of a solar cooker focus on the dependability and the amount of attention the cooker needs while in use. The biggest surprise for some people is that a solar cooker really works.
You can cook a large variety of food with a solar cooker and the slow cooking method yields tender meats and retains juices and vitamins.
Solar cookers definitely have some benefits. Food cooks slowly much like it does in an electric crock pot you have in your kitchen. There is no need to stir the food and it's best to leave the lid in place through the cooking process to retain heat.
The basic solar cooker is composed of a pot or pan (with a good fitting lid) which is either black or clear glass. This pot rests in the center of reflective panel or panels that concentrate the suns rays and reflect them to the location of the pot.
The easiest foods to prepare are those with a high liquid content. Stews and casseroles are good choices for your first venture into solar cooking.
The energy used is free! You are utilizing the UV rays of the run and using no natural resources or electricity to prepare your meal.
A solar cooker works at its most efficient level on a very hot summer day when the sun is glaring down. This is just the type of weather when you don't want to cook indoors and heat up your kitchen. With solar cooking you can let the sun do the work for you.
You can cook almost any food in a solar cooker. Some designs are not suitable for frying or baking while other styles of solar oven work just fine for morning bacon or dinner biscuit preparation.
Solar cooking requires little attention. This is a good project for families with young children. The only maintenance needed during cooking is to slightly reposition the reflective panels or the solar cooker to follow the sun as it tracks across the sky during the day.
Solar cooking takes longer than cooking on your kitchen range or with a crackpot. The temperature inside the pot can only regulated by the strength of the sunshine hitting the reflective panels.
A few light clouds passing overhead will not interfere but a hazy day where thin white clouds cover the sky is not a good choice for solar cooking.
You need to locate your solar cooker in an area where there is no shade or obstructions that will keep the strongest rays of the sun from striking the reflective panels.
Various types of solar cookers will heat to 200 degrees F or as highs 350 degrees but the temperature varies with the weather, location and style of solar cooker.
You can't plan meal timing as you would with other cooking methods. With a solar cooker you must use the best hours of sunlight during the day. Campers enjoy solar cookers and have the flexibility to eat whenever the food is done.
Some solar cooker styles require more frequent attention than others while in use. A cooker where the pot is surrounded by reflective panels will not need to be moved often during the day.
A solar cooker with one or two reflective surfaces will need to be rotated about every 45 minutes to keep the strong rays of the sun hitting the reflective surfaces.
In most regions of the country the prime hours for solar cooking are from 10 am to 3 PM. It's good to have a backup plan in case storm clouds or haze move in during the day.
With a solar cooker you can heat hot dogs and beans for lunch without starting a campfire and making this into a backyard project will keep children entertained.
The pros and cons of a solar cooker are straight forward. This is an outdoor cooking method that works well as long as the sunlight in your area is strong and the sun is not obscured by clouds or haze.
A cooker works great during the hottest hours of the day but can't be used for an early breakfast or during winter months.
There are many styles of solar cookers and almost all can be purchased commercially or made at home with inexpensive materials. Once you've tried a solar cooker you have the basis for a good addition to an emergency kit.
Natural disasters that cause long electrical outages won't be as much a crisis when you have the supplies to put together a solar cooker.
Some cardboard, heavy duty aluminum foil and a black or glass pot with a lid are smart additions to and earthquake or hurrificane emergency kit.