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Old 16-08-2007, 15:53   #1
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Solar Cookers: Yea or Nay

Curious to the usefulness of a solar cooker on a monohull at sea. You can build a very nice gimbaled box cooker on a rotating mount and locks for your pot for just few dollars that will cook almost anything over time and last forever in a marine environment. No fuel or flame is a big draw to me and looks like a lot can be done in one.. Any thoughts?

There is very little different about cooking in a solar box apart from doubling cooking time and leaving water out when cooking fresh vegetables or meats. All foods are cooked in dark covered pots except for roasting nuts and some baking. Use your own recipes and spices. By making small adjustments in time or the amount of water, your favorite foods taste as good or better than ever. The following approximate times are for 4-5 servings. Increase cooking times for larger amounts.
COOKED DRIED CEREALS AND GRAINS - (barley, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, wheat) : 2 hours. Start with usual amount of water. Next time adjust to your taste. If your sky conditions are less than ideal, you may have better luck if you preheat the water and grain separately, as suggested for pasta. This is especially helpful if the grain is either very slow to tenderize (brown rice, hulled but not pearled barley) or gets mushy easily (quinoa, millet). To learn about using barely-sprouted grains and beans, which take to sun cooking very well, see Sprouting seeds and grains.
VEGETABLES - Add no water. Artichokes: 2 1/2 hours; Asparagus: 1 1/2 - 2 hours; Other fresh green vegetables: 1-1 1/2 hours. If cooked longer they will taste fine but lose their nice green color. Beans - dried: 3-5 hours. Usual amount of water, can be soaked ahead of time; Beets, Carrots, Potatoes and other root vegetables: 3 hours. Cabbage, eggplant: 1 1/2 hours if cut up. Eggplant turns brownish, like a cut apple, but the flavor is good; Corn on the cob: 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The corn kernels will fade slightly if left longer in direct sunlight. The husk will hold the moisture in and protect the kernels naturally. A clean black sock can be put over an ear of corn to help absorb heat for faster cooking time. Squash, zucchini: 1 hour. Will turn mushy if left longer.
EGGS - Add no water. Two hours for hard yolks. If cooked longer the whites turn brownish, but the flavor is the same.
MEATS - Add no water. If cooked longer they just get more tender. Fish: 1-2 hours; Chicken: 2 hours cut up, 3 hours whole; Beef, Lamb, etc.: 2 hours cut up, 3 - 5 hours for large pieces; Turkey, large, whole: all day
PASTA - Heat water in one pot and put dry pasta with a small amount of cooking oil in another pot, and heat until water is near boiling. Add hot pasta to hot water, stir, and cook about 10 minutes more.
BAKING - is best done in the middle of the day (9 or 10 am - 2 or 3 pm) Breads: Whole loaves - 3 hours; Cakes: 1 1/2 hours; Cookies: 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Do NOT need to be covered. Avoid bottom crusts - they get soggy. Black socks can also be used to cover foil-wrapped garlic/herb breads. Takes awhile for the heat to work through, but with the sock to dull the foil it eventually will, and the sun tmakes wonderful fresh garlic bread.
SAUCES & GRAVIES MADE WITH FLOUR OR STARCH - Heat juices and flour separately, with or without a little cooking oil in the flour. Then combine and stir. It will be ready quickly.
ROASTING NUTS - Bake uncovered. Almonds: 1 hour, Peanuts: 2 hours.
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Old 16-08-2007, 16:08   #2
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Old 16-08-2007, 19:15   #3
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The Solar Cooking Archive
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Old 16-08-2007, 20:10   #4
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The only issue I see is that breakfast will be ready at 11AM, lunch will have to be started at 10AM to be ready at noon and dinner will have to be started at 3 to be ready at 5. You also have to "prep" the food so it would seem you spend the whole day cooking. Also, some of those cooking times are quite long.

Then of course there are rainy days.

So you could have solar cooking as an alternate. Then it's an additional system on the boat. Good for big boats if you have room.
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Old 16-08-2007, 22:17   #5
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Thumbs up How you approach it is the key

Breakfast is coffee, fruit, and croissaints. Cooking in the morning, just wrong. <g> Yes, it is another system but one that is useable most of the time as some designs don't need full sun. Depending on design, it can be put anywhere amd broken down and stored away. Meals could be mostly one pot affairs prepared the night before or unthawed. Meals do not need supervision, no fuel to buy or store, minimal to no replacement part cost.

I foresee it being built to be clamped out of the way but close to the cockpit like a BBQ. All panels pinned together to be taken down easily, stacked in a bag and placed in the bilge or hung in a locker. If it's too cloudy, fire up the stove or grill that you saved fuel, wear, and tear on all week. Cruisers plan ahead for everything so a solar stove should work out right.

I'll be solo and on deck in a hammock 90% of the time so I'm looking to make the simple life greener and simpler. I'm thinking about a solar still/rain catch system now that fits outside the lifeline/rails and rolls right up out of the way for possible use as a fender. I NEvER want to set foot on land from need, just desire.

Anyone using biodiesel??
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Old 17-08-2007, 17:27   #6
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Appears to be a nice idea... toss the stuff in about noon and go do your thing on land or fish / snorkel or what ever relax and your dinner is being cooked by Old Sol ready when you return.

Would not mind giving it a try and building one then if I like it get a non cardboard model... they probably would not last long on a boat.
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Old 17-08-2007, 21:48   #7
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Don't want to seem verkrampt here but...it sounds like the reason that someone invented the propane stove
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Old 18-08-2007, 09:25   #8
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I thought that wives were the reason.
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Old 21-10-2007, 22:16   #9
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I think the solar cooker is better used at anchor or in the marina. One simple approach is to use it like your crock pot or slow cooker.
The box type is better, as in hotter and faster, but bulky.
A reflector type is very inexpensive and simple, but slower. The black pot goes in a turkey roaster bag, and is placed on a rack set on the reflector. Every few hours, or more, just aim it at the sun. They also make a simple solar tracker which works well.
Sometimes the veggies are too crunchy for my taste, but if you just heat the pot on the stove, they are immediately done. Meat has always been very tender.
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Old 21-10-2007, 22:41   #10
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While I am in the Middle East from September to June Solar cooking would be almost as fast as conventional cooking and burning stuff would be a real fear, however during July and August in the PNW I think things would rot before they cooked and I would starve.
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Old 22-10-2007, 05:36   #11
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Seems perfect for cooking brisket but as an everyday cooking method it seems to be not very practical at sea.
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Old 22-10-2007, 14:37   #12
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Whats wrong with Solar panel batteries and a microwave?
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Old 22-10-2007, 14:45   #13
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How about 1,500 to 2,000 dollars in cost......
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Old 22-10-2007, 14:52   #14
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oh yeah I forgot about that.
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Old 22-10-2007, 14:56   #15
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I've used them ON LAND and it's not as easy as it sounds. Alignment is very touchy. I'd think that no way would it work on a boat..
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