Monday, July 21, 2008

Our home-made box cooker

Yippee - we finally finished it last week.

I think it'll need adjustments though. I suspect the lid isn't tight fitting enough. Hmmm ... and I don't think that bit of coathanger wire will hold up the reflector for long when the Wellington wind gets going! But all in all, my children and I are quite pleased with it.

I've written about our beginner efforts at making and using solar cookers for World Sweet World magazine. Hopefully that'll be in their spring issue.

As a basis for our box cooker, we used the instructions in Cooking with Sunshine by Lorraine Anderson and Rick Palkovic - a detailed and comprehensive book. There are also instructions for making box cookers and other types of solar cooker here. (Take a look at the Cob Solar Oven - it's beautiful.)

I've been feeling impatient to try out our newly made cooker - but there are weeks and weeks to go before we'll have enough sunlight to do it. Then just last night I was reading about heat-retention cooking, and it dawned on me ... In its off season, our solar cooker can double as a haybox cooker.

A haybox cooker is just a box that's well enough insulated to retain cooking heat. You start your pot cooking on the stove, and once it's boiling nicely you take it off the stove, snuggle it into your haybox cooker, and leave it to keep cooking in its own retained heat. No extra energy needed. There's a lovely article about haybox cookers here.

Although the walls and base of our solar box cooker are well insulated, the lid isn't, so to use it as a haybox cooker I'll also need to find something thick and and insulating to wrap around and over the pot before I put the box lid on.

I think I'll have a go at this for tomorrow night's dinner. Hope my son isn't needing his swanndri ...


Nikki said...

I was going to ask you if you'd discovered haybox cookers. I did a post on it, but never got around to making one - although I do turn my stove off a lot earlier than I used to and just allow the retained heat to keep on cooking the food.

Johanna Knox said...

Aha! Thanks for that Nikki! I just went to your blog, and followed the fantastic path of links it set me off on. I especially like this one:

wheels said...

hi johanna

it's freezing cold and hosing down and i'm perplexed has to how anything would cook unless you set fire to it!

you are cutting edge

cheers ian

Johanna Knox said...

Haha. Yeah, I know it's a bit premature. Thing is, I wanted to make it and write it all up for World Sweet World magazine, in time for their spring issue. (And the deadline was a week or so ago - so I had to try and get it done before then ...)

So yeah, no actual solar cooking till about end of September, mid October I don't think. (My Dad has kindly been making complex trigonometric calculations for me, to figure out exactly when prime solar cooking season starts in Wgtn ...he's going to give me his findings tomorrow! :o)

Anonymous said...

Ah, we just got back to freezing NZ after visiting family in Germany for a few weeks. I'm so impressed that you were inspired enough to follow through with the cooker article for the mag (thanks for that, by the way!). I'd give your haybox cooker a go, but at present all our blankets are wrapped around freezing bods!