Monday, August 30, 2010

Lentils and Rice in the Solar Oven- Attempt #2

We've had cold, cloudy weather the last few weeks so when a sunny day was forecast, I got busy.

The night before afore mentioned sunny day, I prepared a Lentil, Rice, Black Bean, Vegetable soup and settled it in the solar oven. I wasn't too worried about food borne illness with a few veggies in tomato water.

At ten on the morning of the sunny day, I when to check the oven's temperature and realized that the morning sun had yet to shine on the spot I thought was sunny! I moved the oven directly south of our house where there's additional reflection off the cement walls. I also lined the oven with tin foil and added a wool blanket to the bottom to improve insulation. On this #2 try cooking with  Coalfree (the oven), she got hotter than last try- creeping up to about 175 degrees F.

At six that night, Lily and I tried the soup. It was steaming,  piping hot. The peppers were cooked nicely, carrots were a touch crunchy. The beans (canned) were fine, however the Lentils were about 90% and the rice 75% cooked.

In review, I need to continue to improve insulation so Coalfree will hit the magical 200 degrees mark. I choose this number because it's equivalent to the low setting on a slow cooker. At this temp, I can convert any slow cooker recipe and not feel insecure about cooking meat (though I think this is my western, uber-bacteria conscious sensibilities! See my last post on solar cooking for food safe temperature links.)

My pot also needs more sun time. On cooking day, the oven had about 8 hours of sun (a thunder storm approached at about 6 pm and we wouldn't have had any more cooking time);  my slow cooker recipe book suggests that rice needs from 5 to 9 hours at 200 F where veggies will do with 2 to 4 hours.  Coalfree's current location should allow for this, as she'll catch the sun's rays as early as 7:30 am, giving supper a much better chance of being ready.

I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Conrad Nobert said...

Cool solar cooker.

The one that I bought from Earth's General Store will melt carrots in three hours (I wrote about it here). It reaches 200 degrees easily without the reflectors, and 250+ with them.

So I'm wondering what is "wrong" with yours. I could be too deep? Mine also has a black interior. Or maybe it isn't tilted towards the sun enough?

I hope that you figure it out. Very neat project.