Use a solar oven to cook foods and save energy at home. A solar oven relies on the heat from the sun to cook food. Even though the ovens don’t get nearly as hot as a regular gas or electric oven, you can safely cook almost anything in one, provided you have patience and a sunny area near your home. Several types of solar ovens exist, from the simple box design to the more complicated parabolic cooker. Cooking instructions are the same for each design, though food will cook more quickly in a parabolic oven.
Set your solar oven on a flat surface outdoors. Position it so that the reflector flap on the box oven points at the sun. You do not want a shadow to fall across the cooking area of the oven.
Place a thermometer inside a solar oven or in the cooking area of a parabolic cooker. Keep an eye on the thermometer to make sure the cooking area is heating. In most cases, you want the oven to heat to about 200 or 250 degrees F.
Prepare the food to go into the oven. Make sure you place the food in black or dark pots or jars, so that they absorb the sun’s heat. A metallic pot will just reflect the heat of the sun. Prepare the food as you would for an ordinary oven, but make sure you use a slightly larger pot that usual, particularly if cooking grains or beans, so that the food has room to expand.
Set the food in the solar oven and close the plastic or glass lid or set the food in the center of the parabolic cooker. Let it cook for twice as long as you would on an ordinary stove if using a box oven or for about the same length if using a parabolic cooker, which can get much hotter. For instance, a pot of dried beans can take up to five hours in a box solar oven, compared to two hours on the stove. If you are cooking meat, use an instant-read thermometer after a few hours to test for doneness. Let it cook until it is done.