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Solar Cooking in the UK?

Discussion in 'Lovely Grub' started by Toadflax, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. kombi

    kombi Member

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    Came across the thread and thought I'd contribute.

    I've been solar cooking in London for about 5 years, slowly getting better and better results. The maximum sustained temperature I had was 130 dgs c for about 2 hours (box oven with about a kilo of grub - july).

    All home made stuff and loads of failures. it helps to really understand the forces at work, the climate here and the types of food you can cook at any time.

    I was cooking today in the box cooker with reflectors (this is the most appropriate to the UK, because of the temperature gradients and the patchy sunlight.). At 10:00 I boiled 200g dry chickpeas with 300ml water, then put it in the black tiffin tin in the oven. Temperature got to 85 dgs c for about 2 hours, then at 4:30 took pan out at about 62. Bit cloudy at midday.

    Chickpeas rehydrated (al dente, not soft) and ready for salad.
    It zaps lentils/split peas in no time in decent clear sun, very soft. Tomorrow is a clear sunny day on the forecast, so I'll put in about 3 filleted red peppers and some olive oil, herbs, garlic. These will soften to a dream, tasty delicattesen quality - juices retained fully.

    I have a home made reflector hot box/parvati type which I used last week in Applecross in Scotland. It was v sunny there, but windy too.
    I leave it out all day with 500ml water in when camping. When we get back after a walk there is a fast expresso in the pot from well preheated water. Took 2.05 minutes exactly to fill stove top expresso. Pointless I guess, but it would give me 500ml pasteurised water if i needed it.

    Will post some pics of that if I can work out how.

    Good to see some interest in Solar cooking here in the UK at last!

    Cheers
     
  2. Chinkapin

    Chinkapin Settler

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    Although I live where one of these would work, and in fact work almost every day, it is that word "almost" that turns me off to them.
     
  3. Dave Budd

    Dave Budd Gold Trader
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    Kombi,

    do you have any pictures and specs of your cooking set up?

    From a camping and bushcraft pov I've not use for solar cooking as others point out it's slow, unreliable and bulky. BUT I like the idea of just putting some bits in a pot when I get to work and enjoying a warm and cooked meal at the end of the day without having to prepare anything after a day of work (I have a slow cooker at home, but I do spend a lot of time living in the woods with no power). Would also be great for courses and other groups out for a day. Certainly to show those townie that you don't need to have an electric or gas cooker and a whole bunch of silly pots and pans to produce a pot of food.

    Also doesn't require the constant supplying of firewood, which when you've other things to do is a pita ;)
     
  4. Toadflax

    Toadflax Native

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    I'd certainly be interested in seeing a home made one that works well. As mentioned earlier, the one I got was a freebie, and I wouldn't have paid $120 for one to use in the UK. I think the aim is for purchases in the developed nations to subsidise those in poorer countries (to maybe $30-$40).

    The only thing I've found is that it is pretty much set it up and leave, but I have found with the sun at relatively low elevations in the past couple of months in the UK that it does need rotating to point towards the sun every hour or two, so you can't go off and leave it completely unattended for the whole day.

    After the rice experiment last weekend, I'm definitely up for trying something like a chili con carne next.


    Geoff
     
  5. kombi

    kombi Member

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    Hi Dave
    When out and about the sun can be used as a food water pre-heat for saving cooking fuel, or keeping fires to a minimum. Aluminium foil & oven bags are light weight, a black water bottle/pots is no additional weight to any other.

    When camping in the ardeche last year a friends daughter gashed her mouth on a tree. I was instantly able to wash the wound in solar clean water kept at over 65dgs+, which had sterilised through the day.

    But you're right about having a box oven set up in a good spot at home to harvest sunshine, cook food and keep it hot in time for tea. Given a reasonably sunny day from april to september you can do a main course. Tough beef works a treat - but be aware of food spoiling temperatures, especially with meat.


    Slow cooking is the best format to expect. My oily peppers are now in the oven in a sealed black tiffin tin (about 300g in all). I have also put in a thick kilner jar (in a black sock) containing 1 leek garlic ginger oil and a bit of water about 400gs in all.

    I will record temps throught the day.

    10:30 it is 65 on the side mounted oven temp gauge.

    Given the above preparation, if it gets cloudy at lunchtime it could disappoint . But we'll see!

    I would post pics if I new how to do it - can anyone tell me how?

    Stewart

    Stew
     
  6. kombi

    kombi Member

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    If anybody is interested. The oven is sitting just over 85 dgs C at 12:00 with an ambinet shaded temperature of 11 dgs C.

    It has go a little bit cloudy in east London there are small clouds which go by the sun in about 5 mins but you feel the cold when the suns gone under one, still not many jet trails!.

    Will update next at 2:00 (if any body interested - got the day off so just faffing)
    Stew
     
  7. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    That's really very good :cool:
    It certainly makes slow cooking possible, especially for the kind of things, and situations, that Dave was talking about.

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  8. kombi

    kombi Member

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    The temp gauge is saying 90 dgs, at 12 dgs ambient. Not sure it will get higher now but its still clear. I expect it will be hotter in side the vessels due to increased pressure.

    Good job were out of the north wind which feels a bit cold.

    Stew
     
  9. kombi

    kombi Member

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    Just took the food out.
    it was 65 at 3:30, then when I took em out it was 55 at 4:30.

    Result: All food cooked through. peppers tasty in a oil sauce, leek soft and also tasy. ready to eat now.

    I took photos but cant figure out how to post them. Maybe abother time.

    Stew
     
  10. Jusali

    Jusali Member

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    Would love to know what this hot sunny weather has produced!
     
  11. caliban

    caliban Need to contact Admin...

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    I cobbled up an exprimental solar cooker, which, despite being cack handed, did get surprisingly hot. Thinking beyond cooking, even a t temperatures well below cooking temps, a tweaked design could be useful for force drying green wood, bowstaves and stuff, drying your socks maybe?
     

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