One of my friends on Facebook posted a link to Solavore, a solar oven company out of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. I have been contemplating building my own solar oven for a few years now, but when I saw this little thing and its reasonable cost, I thought I’d better just buy it and get my ass cooking using the sun instead of just dreaming about it. This model is the Solavore Sport–it’s fairly lightweight (about 12 pounds) so it’s mobile for use at home, camping, tailgate parties…whatever. It also comes with an oven thermometer, two 4 quart pots with lids, and a WAPI, which stands for “water purification indicator.” So yes, you can use this solar oven to purify water so that it is safe to drink. If you are planning for the Armageddon, this solar oven just might help you through it (if you are that optimistic), but if you are just wanting to cook something without having to heat up your house in the middle of the summer and have a back up for some safe drinking water, it works fine for that, too. If I were a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, I’d want one of these–then I could cook my food while I was working during the day, without having to burn wood/charcoal, and I’d also have a way to purify my drinking water.
Because I live at a northern latitude (more than halfway to the North Pole from the Equator), Solavore recommends the optional reflector, which can double the amount of sunlight entering the oven. The reflector is also recommended if you are cooking in the spring or fall when the angle of the sun is lower and you aren’t getting as much solar radiation as in the summer. If you live near the Equator, it’s not necessary.
With the reflector on, the solar oven looks like a NASA space capsule.
I was so excited to see it sitting on my front porch Friday afternoon when I got home from work, especially since I thought its delivery had been delayed until Monday. Not that it would have mattered–it was cold and rainy today, so I couldn’t take it for a test drive. In fact, the forecast is calling for cloudy and/or rainy conditions until next Friday. Booooo! But as I am trying to remain positive, this will give me extra time to plan my inaugural solar oven menu.
The interesting thing about this oven is that it doesn’t get particularly hot. If you are looking to cook something quickly, this oven is not for you. It acts more like a slow cooker, in that you can leave your food in it pretty much all day and it won’t burn. But food will retain nutrients and moisture, so the word on the street is food cooked in this oven is pretty darn tasty. Despite its moderate cooking temperatures, you can bake cakes, cookies, and breads in this oven and they will even brown on top–it will just take time.
I can hardly wait to use it and share my results!