Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sun Oven Solar Cooking

I have been interested in purchasing a solar oven for some time now.  After much research, and talking to distributors, I finally took the plunge!  Last Saturday, the president of Sun Oven came to Lindon, UT to give a seminar on these ovens.  It was fantastic!  He talked about the benefits of a solar oven:
  1. Cooks with no fuel.  Only uses the power of the sun.  Awesome!  This really cuts down the amount of fuel needed to store for emergency preparedness.
  2. Nothing burns in the solar oven (he did say that if cookies are left in for a long time, they will burn, but that is the only food that will).
  3. Since no moisture is lost during cooking, food is moist, tender and very flavorful. You should use 1/3 less liquid in your recipes.
  4. It folds up like a suitcase and only weighs 21 pounds.  Can be taken anywhere.
  5. Super easy to use!
  6. The most forgiving way to cook.
  7. Can also pasteurize water.
  8. Doesn't heat up your home in the Summer.
  9. Can be used in any temperature outside, as long as there is Sun.
  10. It has a 15 year warranty. 
  11. Totally safe — no danger of fire and does not emit any toxic fumes. 
  12. Saves you money in 2 ways — cooks with free solar energy & without heating up your kitchen (lowering your airconditioning bill)! 
  13. Safeguards against power disruptions - great for disaster relief. 
  14. Used daily in 126 countries around the world.
Needless to say, the next day I put it to work!  I was astounded.  Within 20 minutes the oven thermometer read 325 degrees!  I put a chicken in, and left for church.  He said that if you will be gone for several hours in the middle of the day, to position it due South.  When we returned home, we went out the yard to check it out.... it sure smelled good!  We took the chicken out and had a feast.  Honestly, it was probably the best roasted chicken we have ever had.  I can't wait to keep using this oven!  And, it makes me excited to take it with us camping!  Yippee!  I love emergency preparedness things that can be used all the time!! I purchased this oven from Grant at  They were the best price.

Chicken cooked in the Solar Oven

From the Sun Oven Website:

Anything you can cook in a conventional electric or gas oven and most things you can cook on a stovetop can be cooked in a SUN OVEN®. You can bake, boil and steam, so the only foods you cannot cook are fried foods.

Where are the SUN OVENS® manufactured?

The  SUN OVENS® which are sold in North America are made in Elburn, Illinois. With the exception of the thermometer, all of the component parts used in the SUN OVENS® are made in the USA.
SUN OVENS® that are used outside of North America are often made in the country in which they are used. 

What is the cooking temperature range?

The SUN OVEN® will reach temperatures of 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking temperatures will vary depending on the brightness of the sun and how often the oven is refocused to follow the sun. 

Will food prepared in a SUN OVEN® taste the same as food prepared in my conventional oven?

The food tastes much better! SUN OVEN®cooking allows many of the natural flavors of food, which get baked out in conventional ovens, to remain. The slow, even rise in temperatures in a SUN OVEN® gives the complex carbohydrates time to break down into simple sugars allowing subtle natural flavors to emerge. Sun baked-foods stay moist (the natural internal juices do not bake out) resulting in a superior, moist taste and much less shrinkage.

How long does it take?

Cooking times are close to the same as those in a conventional oven. Because the sun sometimes goes behind clouds, cooking times can vary. At times it may take a little longer. The factors that affect the cooking time are: the quality of the sunlight at the time you are cooking, the types and quantities of the food being cooked, and how often the oven is refocused. A good rule of thumb is to add 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time for each time the oven door is opened.

The amazing thing about using a SUN OVEN® is that it is almost impossible to burn food; and sun-cooked food does not dry out. This enables food to be cooked for a longer time at a lower temperature or in less time at a higher temperature, without affecting the quality of the food.
There are two ways to cook in a SUN OVEN®. If you refocus the oven to follow the sun every 25 to 30 minutes, cooking times and methods will be very similar to cooking with a conventional stove or oven. Or a SUN OVEN® can be used for slow cooking, much like a crock-pot. You can prepare your dinner, put it in the SUN OVEN® and point the oven toward where the sun will be approximately halfway through the time you will be gone. Leave, and come home to a tasty, slow-cooked dinner. If you run late, there is no need to worry; the SUN OVEN® will keep your food warm, moist, and fresh for hours.
No, but dark, thin-walled pots with lids work best. Dark pots change the light from the sun into heat energy. Shiny aluminum pots and pans cause light to be reflected out thereby reducing the oven's temperature. Glass casserole dishes with lids also work well.
With the exception of bakery goods, everything cooked in a SUN OVEN®should be cooked in a pot with a lid. Lids hold steam in the pot. If a lid is not used, the steam will fog the inside of the glass and reduce the temperature. For baking cakes, breads, cookies and pies, dark cookie sheets and baking tins work best.
Yes, the SUN OVEN® has been designed to accommodate baking two loaves of bread at a time. Several flat pans can be cross stacked to enable several layers when making granola or cookies. Two small stackable pots can be used on the leveling tray. The leveling tray can be removed to increase the usable area inside the SUN OVEN® and allow larger stackable pots or pans to be used. (It is important to note that if the leveling tray is removed, pots and pans should be placed on a trivet, not on the floor of the oven. To cook evenly, there must be air flow all the way around the pot. A trivet will allow enough air to pass under the pot to ensure an even heat.)   

Does food need to be stirred?

No, stirring to prevent scorching is not required when cooking in a SUN OVEN® due to the fact that there are no hot spots. The temperature of the food and the pot remain the same and rise evenly. It is almost impossible to burn food in a SUN OVEN®.

In full sun, bread baked in a SUN OVEN® will brown. To insure a brown crust every time bread is baked, a light mist of water can be sprayed on the dough just before it is placed in SUN OVEN®. A dark lustrous finish on breads can be achieved by using an egg-or milk-wash on the dough before baking.
When poultry is baked in a SUN OVEN® in a covered pot it does not brown. A golden brown surface can be attained on meats and poultry by sprinkling a small amount of sugar over them. Paprika is also useful for creating an appetizing appearance.

How difficult is it to focus a SUN OVEN®?

Focusing a SUN OVEN® is very easy. All that is required is to watch the shadows created by the oven. When the shadows are even on all sides, the cooker is directly focused. The built-in leveling leg on the back of the oven allows for easy tracking. 

How often must a SUN OVEN® be refocused?

The need to refocus depends a great deal on what you are cooking, the time of day, and the temperature you wish to maintain. A good rule of thumb is to plan to readjust every 30 minutes to maintain maximum heat. At noon the sun is high in the sky and moves quickly past the maximum focus point, creating the need to refocus more often. Later in the day you will not need to refocus as often. The SUN OVEN® is equipped with a built in Levelator, which keeps food level and avoids spills while being refocused.

Many meals can be cooked without refocusing. SUN OVEN® users often will put their ovens outside, focused for the mid-day sun, with their dinner in it when they leave for work in the morning. As the sun moves overhead, the temperature in the SUN OVEN® chamber slowly rises to a cooking level. As the sun passes, the food is kept warm and when they return from work they have a warm, sun-cooked dinner. (Keep in mind food will not burn in a SUN OVEN® and that the chamber is extremely well insulated, allowing food to stay warm for hours.)
The only parts that get hot are the oven chamber, the cooking pan and the glass door. Proper care must be taken to use hot pads when opening the door and removing food. The entire exterior of the oven, including the reflectors, does not get hot and remains safe to touch.

How long will a SUN OVEN® last?

The estimated life of a SUN OVEN® is 15 + years. With proper care it should last a lifetime.

Do I need special recipes to cook in a SUN OVEN®?

The SUN OVEN® reaches temperatures comparable to that of conventional ovens; therefore no special recipes are required.

What are the dimensions of the SUN OVEN®?

The size of the SUN OVEN® is 19'' x 19'' with an average depth of 11''. The total weight is only 21 pounds. The back of the outside outer box is 14" high and the front of the outer box is 9" high. The back of the oven chamber is 11" high and the front is 7" high, with an average depth of 9". The door opening for the oven chamber is 14" in diameter. When opened the reflectors are 32" in diameter.
The following materials used to make a SUN OVEN®:
Reflectors        Anodized aluminum (which will never oxidize, rust or corrode)
Outer shell       ABS plastic
Bezel              Poplar wood (kiln dried)
Inner shell        Anodized aluminum
Door                Tempered glass
Between the aluminum inner shell and the plastic outer shell there is a thick batt of food grade fiberglass insulation.
Yes, a SUN OVEN® can be used on a clear winter day. The most important factor in using a SUN OVEN® is the brightness of the sun, not the outside air temperature. Often, a 40-degree, clear, low-humidity day will allow food to cook faster than a 100-degree day with high humidity. The SUN OVEN® has been used very successfully at the base camp of a Mt. Everest expedition where the temperatures are often well below zero. There are, however, more cooking hours available in the summer than in the winter. In the summer, it is not unusual to cook from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, whereas during the early winter, effective cooking is limited to 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Can aSUN OVEN®be used to dry or dehydrate foods?

Yes, a SUN OVEN®makes an excellent solar dryer. When the latch (which holds the door shut for cooking) is turned inward and the glass door is set on top of the latch, moist air can escape and the temperature inside the oven will remain low enough to keep the items being dried from starting to cook.  
Yes, SUN OVENS International, Inc. is involved in solar cooking projects in deforested countries on 5 continents. We have been innovative in developing methods of placement, training, and marketing to assist in the positioning of over 34,000 family sized GLOBAL SUN OVENS® in the U.S. and more than 100 developing countries, and 250 large VILLAGER SUN OVENS®in deforested developing countries. We are striving to develop and implement comprehensive solar cooking programs which will radically decrease the developing world's dependence on fuel wood and dung as the primary cooking fuels, while benefiting the environment, raising the standard of living, and improving the health of the poor worldwide. Domestic SUN OVEN®saleshelp finance these endeavors.

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  1. This is a GREAT product to own and use with our dehydrated foods! Just add water and cook with the Solar Oven!

  2. I recently saw a picture of someone's sun oven, with foamboard-covered-with-aluminum-tape inserts.

    Since I build the All Seasons Solar Cooker using that same foamboard, I recognized it immediately. Went to the local hobby shop and bought two large foamboards 20" x 30" and one large foamboard. I then cut aluminum foil tape"Shurtape AF 912" which you'll find in the tape area at Lowe's. Runs about $7-8 a roll. Needed a third of a roll to cover the three boards. Placed the large board behind the top reflector, long side running vertical, and then marked the board for bending just after the reflector on each side. I simply dropped the small boards in the side reflector slot, created by the hinge. Brought the three boards together, marked where they would meet, cut off the large board's excess and taped then connected. My insert cost around $9 to make and my sun oven gained over 100F due to the increase in reflective area. I estimate I went from 1320 sq in. to just over 2500 sq in. I'll send you pictures if you're interested in seeing this.

    Since my version is like a collar and is supported by the sun oven's natural design, I don't need clips to hold the boards.

  3. Amazing! Pictures would be great!