How do Solar cooking devices Work?
A solar cooking device works by concentrating or focusing solar heat energy on to the cooking pot. The plastic bag around the pot acts as a green-house to trap heat. Temperatures over 300 F could be easily achieved in ideal conditions.
When can I cook food with sunlight?
In order to harvest sunlight there must be enough sunlight. Solar cooking works best from spring to fall and on sunny days. In winter and on cloudy days food might not cook fully and it may need to go to the stove for few minutes at the end to ensure that it is properly cooked.
Is the food safe to eat?
Yes food cooked in solar kitchen is not only safe to eat but in fact it is more hygienic as it does not require any handling and hence there is less chance of contamination. However if due to cloudy or hazy conditions you suspect food did not cook completely then just cook for few minutes on the regular stove to be sure. Pot included is safe to be used on regular stoves.
How do I cook food in a solar kitchen?
It is quite easy. You can use the same recipes as you use normally. Just place everything in the pot as if you would do it with a slow cooker. There are many solar cooking recipes available on line for free. In no time you will become an expert.
How do I know the food is cooked?
In ideal conditions most food gets cooked 1-2 hours. Depending on the strength of sun and amount of food cooking time varies. Once you start smelling cooked food then give 15 more minutes and your food will be done. With practice you will become an expert in no time.
In the beginning leave the food for few extra minutes just to be sure. Food will not burn even if it gets overcooked it will be still tasty and edible. With little practice you will get a good idea when the food is ready. If there was not enough sun light for example during cloudy days or winter and you are not sure if the food got cooked then cook it on high heat for 5-10 minutes.
What if the plastic bag has a hole in it?
The integrity of the plastic bag is important for this device to work. Repair the bag with a clear tape or get a new bag. Plastic bags provided are re-usable.
Can I use any other pot with this device?
As long as the pot is completely black, yes.
Why is food not getting cooked?
Make sure there is enough sunlight getting to the stove.
To improve the efficiency in sub-optimal conditions follow the below tips:
Change the angle of the stove every 45-60 min to point it towards the sun.
Make sure there are no holes in the bag.
Make sure you are not using too much food.
Make sure you start cooking process as soon as the sun comes up
Make sure you thaw the food overnight if it is frozen.
If cooking beans or lentils, it is recommended to soak them in water overnight
How do I sterilize or pasteurize water?
Water can be pasteurize by heating it to at least 65 C which kills most pathogens linked to water borne diseases
Water can be also sterilized using the sun UV lights. Fill a clear PET bottle (soda bottles) with water and put it in place of the cooking pot. Do not put the PET bottle in the plastic bag. UV light kills most diarrheal causing bacteria. Data however is lacking on the exact time required to effectively kill all germs in a solar stove. SODIS method where you leave PET bottles in the open sun recommends 5 hours. Given our solar stove concentrates sunlight at least 5-6 times more compared to direct sunlight, it would require perhaps one – two hours. But that is just an estimate. We recommend you use this method at your own risk till more data is available.