THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Solar ovens might not be commonly used here in Utah, but they’re making a big impact internationally.
According to Solar Cookers International, 3 in 7 people in the world lack the modern fuel needed to cook food. Additionally, indoor air pollution from cooking is a major issue in developing countries, leading to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.
Using a solar cooker provides solutions to both these dilemmas. They’re free to operate, require no fuel and produce no pollution.
If you enjoy DIY projects, you can actually make your own solar cooker with these plans from Popular Science. The materials cost about $30, and it will only take a couple of hours to complete the oven. Just note that this type of oven, though easy to make, has limitations when it comes to cooking your food.
For the fastest and most reliable solar oven experience, you may want to check out some of the modern options available on the market. Here’s a look at one of the best.
GoSun makes a wide range of solar ovens, from units the size of a shoe box up to a 30-pound grill. The GoSun Sport falls somewhere in the middle — small enough that you can tote it around, but large enough that it can cook a meal for two people.
The GoSun Sport reaches temperatures up to 550°F (290°C) when it’s in full sunlight. If conditions are ideal, you can bake, steam or roast your food in just 20-30 minutes.
What about times when the sun isn’t as bright? The parabolic reflectors on this oven are so efficient that they can heat the cooking tube even when it’s somewhat overcast. Basically, if you can cast a shadow you can cook. Just note that when sunlight is diminished, your cooking times will be extended. For this reason, it’s advisable to plan ahead and know the forecast.
Regardless of how bright it is outside, the vacuum tube on the GoSun Sport is able to convert about 80% of the sun’s rays into useable heat. Despite the intense temperatures within, the oven is actually cool to the touch on the outside, so you don’t have to worry about accidental burns.
The GoSun Sport is quite portable, tipping the scales at about 7 pounds. You can easily pack it up and tote it around in the included carrying case.
Have you tried using solar ovens? Tell us about your experience below.
Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." You can contact him at www.grant-olsen.com.