Solar cooker

Know of a stove that has some Character about it for one reason or another, post it here.
churro
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Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Sat May 30, 2015 7:43 pm

At about 6 hours I pulled the plug, because some trees threatened to shade my rig. Here's what it looked like.
IMG_4856.JPG

And, yes, those are blackened onions on top. It has enough power to caramelize and brown food, but seemingly mostly on top. I put it into the oven preheated warm, then turned off to hold until dinner.

So that's real-time posts for a solar cooked meal. I'll let you know how it tastes.

churro
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Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Sat May 30, 2015 9:46 pm

SOOOOOOO GOOOOD! I forgot to take plating pics. Absolutely fall-off-the-bone tender, to the point that the legs just fell off when I lifted out the hens. Subtle hints of lemon and rosemary deep in the meat, a thin sauce that was buttery, herby and had that deep chickeny flavor of homemade broth, vegetables tender but with just enough texture to be perfect. Wouldn't do anything differently. We're full, happy and ready to enter a food coma.

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zelph
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Re: Solar cooker

Postby zelph » Sun May 31, 2015 8:52 pm

Ahhh the sweet smell of cooking success :D

So do you think it was way overcooked?

Looking at one of your photos gave me an ide of keeping the unit in focus. Put a large diameter disc made of something on the ground under your set-up. Focus the sun onto the pot and then look at the shadow under the unit and make a note of where the shadow is in relation to the diameter of the ground cover disc. As the sun moves, pull the ground disc and the cooking unit on top of it together until the shadow is positioned in the initial as marked on the ground disc. I think I said that right :lol: If you keep the shadow in the same spot, it should be in the correct focus....right????? :?

If you reduce cooking time it may prevent the "food coma" :mrgreen: 6 hours wait time is torture :o

Hey, another idea....use one of these stuck in the breast of the chicken to let you know when it's done to perection:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/2311027247 ... =82&chn=ps
"Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained" stove store = http://www.woodgaz-stove.com/

churro
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Mon Jun 01, 2015 12:59 am

It definitely could have been served sooner, but it was still delicious. I started early, and probably kept it going longer than I should have, but I had my reasons: mostly I wanted make sure it was cooked safely and to see what it would do as the day progressed, but I also wanted to make a meal using almost no electricity or other fuel. I'll continue to play with it and see what works, but I was definitely surprised at the power this thing has. Others I've made have been perfectly effective, but never really adequate for browning food. I might even be able to make a decent loaf of bread in this one.

I'll have to think over the focusing arrangement you described. I had planned to make a base that would rotate more easily, maybe with adjustments for leveling it. I might just have to include some sort of built in focusing arrangement like the one you described. Thanks for the inspiration.

I was telling a buddy about this thing and he agreed to go halfsies on the cost of materials to make some more, one for him, another for me and several to divy out and let others test them out, work up some recipes, etc. I did a little research and found that the cheapest and easiest to us material would probably be aluminum flashing. My previous projects making caldera cones might be helpful... I have some ideas...

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zelph
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Re: Solar cooker

Postby zelph » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:26 am

You've been doing fantastic, come a long way and the excellent results are the fruits of you labors. Your wife loves you dearly for it :D

Your oven has increased in size considerably. How are you going to store it?
"Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained" stove store = http://www.woodgaz-stove.com/

churro
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:04 am

zelph wrote:So do you think it was way overcooked?

I've been thinking a lot about this question. The answer is no, it wasn't, it was delicious. But still, it could have been ready to eat, maybe just as delicious, much sooner. I think this is a big advantage of solar cooking: If I'd done the same meal at 325* F in the oven for the same time, it would have been dry and tough, I bet. In this rig, it was just too tender (if there is such a thing). I think it would be safe to add the vegetables after 1 hour of cooking and serve it 1 hour later, on a sunny day.

Still, 6 hours is too long for most people to make use of it. I will try a few simple meals and see it this rig cooks in a more reasonable time.

zelph wrote:Your oven has increased in size considerably. How are you going to store it?


I have a decent sized shop to store it in. I was recently given a can of Flex'n'seal which I plan to use to seal the cardboard on the back of the reflector, and I have put some Thompson's waterseal on the frame, in case it gets rained on. I LOVE cooking, so another thing to store is ok in my priority list.

This was a prototype, the goal being to design something that will allow the reflector to be pointed at the ground and covered with a trashbag or BBQ cover, then left outside. I researched materials and found that aluminum flashing should cut the cost of materials and production to a reasonable cost, while also making it more weather-resistant. I'll build it soon...

Another thing that crossed my mind is that maybe a dark pot is not necessary. We get used to things- maybe the "theoretical model" that includes a metal surface to transfer the heat is not as efficient as using the surface of the food itself. Sunlight on a dark surface results in heat, heat cooks things, and so on. Solar irradiation on the surface of the food might just cook more efficiently than solar irradiation on metal. What I am imagining is a pyrex casserole dish with food in it and no other impediment. Another thing to try.

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zelph
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Re: Solar cooker

Postby zelph » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:08 pm

It would be nice if you could fasten it to the ground and cover with a vinyl cover like what they use for BBQ grilles.



Solar irradiation on the surface of the food might just cook more efficiently than solar irradiation on metal. What I am imagining is a pyrex casserole dish with food in it and no other impediment. Another thing to try.


I like that idea and you might try that soon to test your idea. One small game hen for starters. Your recent bake had browned ingredients more than likely produced through the clear lid....right?
"Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained" stove store = http://www.woodgaz-stove.com/

churro
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:51 pm

zelph wrote:It would be nice if you could fasten it to the ground and cover with a vinyl cover like what they use for BBQ grilles.



Solar irradiation on the surface of the food might just cook more efficiently than solar irradiation on metal. What I am imagining is a pyrex casserole dish with food in it and no other impediment. Another thing to try.


I like that idea and you might try that soon to test your idea. One small game hen for starters. Your recent bake had browned ingredients more than likely produced through the clear lid....right?


I have a post in the back yard that used to house a satellite dish. It's a 4" diameter steel tube, set in concrete and located where sun hits it all day long. I am thinking of cutting it off at a convenient height and making a more durable reflector out of aluminum flashing or something. A grill cover should fit well.

And, yes, the browning seemed to happen almost exclusively from the top, through the glass lid.

I made some lamb curry in it yesterday and it came out great in about 1.5 hours. I cheated a little by browning the meat and onions in a pan on the kitchen stove, then put it into the pot with some mashed sweet potato, home canned apples, homemade turkey stock, curry powder, garlic, red chile and a can of coconut milk. It simmered gently from about 4:00 until 5:30 and the meat was perfectly tender. Nice to know it works even fairly late in the day. It was windy, too, and I was pleased with it's stability.

churro
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:48 pm

I have been avoiding checking out any of the advertising for the Go Sun stove Zelph pointed out. I can't afford it, but my sinful, covetous heart just won't let me rest once I see something I want... This video is kind of fun, and seems like a reasonable test of the equipment, with music and drones to boot.


churro
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Solar cooker

Postby churro » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:46 am

Mr. Heater wrote:Now that's an interesting design. Looks like it would be kind of fragile and hard to clean inside.

It wouldn't take much to build a cooker like that. The tubes are a lot cheaper than the finished product. :)


Yeah, I was thinking that, too. There's a 2 year, no-questions-asked warranty on the tube, though, and the way it folds up for transport helps protect the tube. It comes with a cleaning attachment that screws onto the cooking tray. The instructional videos on the Gosun youtube page are both funny and informative. It actually looks to be easier to clean than I would have thought. You just put some soapy water in the tray, screw on the cleaning attachment and sort of plunge it out, then rinse. The reflectors and outside of the tube can be cleaned with glass cleaner.

They are accepting pre-orders on the Gosun grill, which features a bigger tube, optional stand and optional phases-change heat battery so you can "cook at night". That sounds cool, but I am curious just how effective the "battery" is. Just re-heating, or actual cooking, I wonder? It's actually not priced too badly for a full-sized grill if you get the pre-order discount.

One thing I found interesting about their marketing strategy is that for every 4 they sell a fifth will be donated to a needy family through some solar cooker non-profit. They seem to be using the donations as a way to both advertise and expand production so as to bring the price down through mass-production. Oh, yeah, and they have a commercial array that has 4 units mounted to a sturdy base that swivels and tilts conveniently. While expensive, it has eye-apeal to draw attention and would work in places where power was not available. If I was a carny I'd probably invest in one, then sell overpriced s'mores and hot dogs...

It doesn't seem like a stand-alone product, to me. Should be great for quickly reheating food, for browning meat before placing it in something bigger to make chili or stew, maybe for tapas or something like tacos where only some of the food that is served is actually cooked. Maybe the bigger version will be more versatile.


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