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Monday, November 30, 2009

How to Use a Solar Oven

By Alexander Sutton

Solar ovens are a superb way to cook food for the do-it-yourself type of person looking to reduce the amount of energy they use in their home and take advantage of the free resource the sun provides. These products are not only helpful to reducing the always-increasing power bills, but they are also great for reducing the carbon footprint of the individuals who use them. Ovens in the home can require an immense amount of energy to heat up and maintain temp, whether gas or electricity is used. Overtime this can mean a small, but important amount of damage to the environment. For anyone looking to lower their bills, do right by the environment, and get delicious food, these products are a great choice.

These products aren't only for the environmentally or cost conscious consumer. They are also great for the camper as well. Many of these products are designed for rural farmers living far from electricity and so they are light and portable. These same design features can be useful to the portable eater as well. Campers often can't get the same great roasted flavors when out in the woods because to carry such a large device with gas would be immensely difficult. Solar ovens solve this problem.

Just because they are solar ovens, doesn't mean that they are solar powered as most people think of it. Instead, these products generate heat by focusing the rays of the sun through special reflecting plates and a glass top. These devices greatly increase the heat inside the oven quickly. This heat is then retained and after a long enough period, the interior of the oven will have a high enough temperature to roast vegetables, meats, and even bake bread. This requires that the oven be set out with enough time to allow both heating and cooking. For many this is simply the process of leaving the oven outdoors at all times or just placing it outside early in the day.

Unlike a traditional oven, these products will not have a simple set temperature. In order to use these products effectively, the oven needs to be carefully monitored and cooking times adjusted to make sure that the food will be ready. Most foods don't require much more than heat and time, but some foods, particularly breads, do require a very specific temperature to bake correctly. This may limit some dishes, however special recipes have been developed to help people work around these limitations.

Alex Sutton lives in San Diego with his wife and two kids. For more information please visit solar ovens.

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