I’ve had the solar oven for three months now, but hadn’t really had a good opportunity to give it a try. Since school is closed and I’m off for two weeks, I now have the opportunity. So yesterday, I tried it out.
I didn’t want to try it with meat, or anything that would be expensive to lose if it didn’t work out. Fortunately, the cookbook that came with the oven had a recipe for cornbread in the back. I had all the ingredients except for buttermilk. On the way home from church I grabbed a bottle of that, and I was ready to go.
I mixed up the recipe, divided the dough between the two pots, and set it out in the sun, on the back patio, facing south, and sitting on a small table so it would get more light. It was about 1:30 pm when I got it out there. The recipe said it should be finished in 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I checked it at 1 hour 15 minutes, and it was nowhere near done. So I gave it another hour – still not done (but closer). At that point the sun was almost below the tree line, and I wasn’t going to get any more heat out of it. So I brought in the pots and finished baking them in the kitchen oven.
When it was done, the cornbread turned out fine. It didn’t raise much, maybe because it wasn’t exposed to enough heat – or maybe because it was supposed to be that way. It tasted fine. Nothing special, but just good basic cornbread. The recipe only called for 1 tsp of sugar; I think next time I’ll use 2 tsp.
The problem was not with the oven; the problem was that I started too late in the day. In spite of being in Florida, our days are still pretty short at this time of year, and the optimum time for sunlight is definitely between 10 am and 2 pm. I was almost out of the optimal window by the time I started. I’m sure, in the summer, that the recipe would work just like it’s supposed to.
Today I’m going to be home all day, so I’m going to try baked potatoes in the solar oven, and start them by 10 am. We’ll see how that works.
If you’re interested in a solar oven, I got mine from The Solar Oven Society. They have a lot of information about solar cooking on the site.