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August 2013

Cooking with sunshine

Sun Cook Solar Oven capturing sunlight and converting it to heat to cook food. Little eco footprints

A couple of clear winter days saw me crack open my solar oven. Solar cooking is at its best in Summer – but is still possible at other times of the year. As long as the sun is shining it can be used to cook.

Solar ovens use reflective mirrors to concentrate sunlight and convert it to heat. Most solar ovens typically reach temperatures of only 100 degrees C (for a home-made cardboard box oven) to 180 degrees C for a box oven like my Sun Cook Solar Oven. This low temperature makes them perfect for slow cooking. Anything you would cook in a slow cooker or crock pot will cook perfectly in a solar oven.

I’ve had my solar oven for a couple of years and love using sunshine to cook our food. I particularly like solar cooking beans and pulses that would otherwise sit on a stove top bubbling away for a couple of hours.

An added bonus of solar cooking is that it’s almost impossible to burn or over-cook food. I can put something in the solar oven and leave home for a couple of hours and not worry about burning the food (or burning our house down).

You don’t need a fancy solar oven to solar cook (although they do make it easier and quicker). Making a solar oven out of a couple of cardboard boxes or a pizza box is a great kids project.

Hummus made with sunshine cooked chickpeas Little eco footprints

My recent winter solar cooking included chickpeas. They weren’t quiet cooked by the time the sun went down, so I popped the pot on top of our pot belly stove that night to finish them off. The following day we enjoyed hummus – cooked with sunshine and fire. To me – that’s a whole lot sweeter than opening up a tub of supermarket bought hummus.

Originally published in my 'Less Is More' column, Newcastle Herald 3rd August 2013