Friday, June 22, 2012

Cooking without Electricity: Sun Oven

Today, I am starting a 10 part series on how you can still cook if you ever find yourself without electricity. There may be lots of reasons you don't have electricity or don't want to use electricity.  The most common reason for me (in the summer) is it makes the kitchen hot.  I don't have my air conditioning on yet. I try to keep the air conditioning off until the temperature gets into the 90's. Since cooking inside the house makes it very hot, I prefer to cook outside. 

But, let's say it's not just the heat, perhaps you have lost electricity during a winter storm, a tornado, or a hurricane.  How do you feed your family?  If you have a wood stove, you have both a source for cooking along with a heat source. That is ideal if the storm happens to be a severe winter storm. The outside grill is always an option. It might not be as comfy in that winter storm, but it's still there if you really need it.

However, there are a lot of other options available to you for cooking besides a wood stove or the grill outside.  This series will attempt to show you how to create and use alternative methods of cooking just in case you ever want or need to make a change.  My goal is to post a new cooking option every Friday for the next 10 weeks. This week's feature is the Sun Oven. Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with this company in any way, just a satisfied customer. 

I have had my Sun Oven about three years.  I love it!  You can cook almost anything in a Sun Oven.  I have made bread, cookies, rice, many different meat dishes and desserts.  About the only thing you can't do is fry.  It is almost impossible to burn food in the Sun Oven, most food can stay there all day and cook while you are at work (except for things like bread and cookies.)  I use my Sun Oven so much that I am now considering getting a second one.

Yesterday, I cooked a chicken in the Sun Oven. The chicken was for my dog.  She is allergic to dog food.  So, since the chicken was for the dog, I didn't use any spices.  This was simple: put the chicken in the pot and put the pot in the oven. (BTW, it still tasted delicious!)

Cooking with a Sun Oven does require a few different pots.  They really should be dark in color.  If you don't have any dark pots and pans to use, you can use a shiny one and cover it with a dish towel.  If you leave the shiny pot in the Sun Oven uncovered, the heat will be reflected off the pot and the food won't cook.  Dark pots and pans are best.

The first thing I did was set up the Sun Oven to preheat.

Then I washed the chicken. patted it dry, and placed in the pot.


You can marinade it if you want, or use the spices and herbs you normally would.  One cautionary note: when cooking in a Sun Oven,  you don't need to use as much liquid as you would if you were cooking it in the oven in your kitchen, so you can use less marinade.  Also, it does take longer to cook in the Sun Oven - about double the time.  So, if you were baking bread and the recipe said to bake for 25 minutes, you can leave it in the Sun Oven about 45 minutes.

Once the Sun Oven is preheated, place the pot in the Sun Oven.

My plan was to leave this in the Sun Oven for three hours.  However, it was a partly cloudy day and the sun kept darting behind the clouds.  I got nervous when the sun went in and ran out a few times to make sure the Sun Oven was keeping the temperature up.  It never went below 250 degrees so I knew it was safe - I just needed to cook it as if it were in a crock pot and leave it longer.  So, the chicken ended up staying in the Sun Oven for four hours.  I also adjusted the oven a few times to time to make sure it stayed pointed at the sun.  This isn't necessary if you have a completely sunny day and you are leaving to go to work.  Under those circumstances, you can point the Sun Oven to where the sun would be at it highest point in the day (say between 12 - 2:00 pm) and leave it there.

So here is the chicken four hours later, tender, juicy and browned to perfection!

 If you would like to read more about cooking with a Sun Oven, visit this blog Solar Oven Chef. The author cooked with a Sun Oven for an entire year and blogged about it.  She now blogs on the Sun Oven website  The Original Sun Oven. You will find lots of recipes and how to's on both websites.
If you liked this post, you make also like:
  • Cook with Alternative Fuels
  • Cook with a Kelly Kettle
  • Cook Your Food in a Steam Pit
  • Cook Your Food in a Hot Box
  • Cook with a Number 10 Can Stove
  • Using Non-Electric Appliances
  • Make Some Campfire Charcoal
  • Make a Dakota Fire Hole to Cook In
  • Cook Your Food in a Cardboard Box


    1. It doesn't look like the chicken was cooked at all, was it?
      daikin air

    2. Patrick,

      The Sun Oven cooks food to perfection! It is not possible to burn meat in the Sun Oven. It will fall off the bone and be juicy and tender.

      In the second picture of the chicken, that is exactly what happened.

      Thank you for your comment!


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