Sunday, September 28, 2008

We used our solar box cooker!

Still a couple of weeks to go before we get into prime solar cooking season here, as calculated by my Dad, but it was a beautiful day today, so we thought - why don't we have a go at something that only needs a short amount of cooking?

Boiled eggs it was.

We started at around 10.30am. We put the eggs in our black pot and covered them with warm water from the tap. I know warm water was slightly cheating, but I was desperately trying to maximise our chances of success, given that it's so early in the season, and the sun is still relatively low in the sky.

We put the pot in the cooker on two stacked cake racks to raise it up slightly and make sure the underside of the pot could heat up properly. (We had problems last summer with our panel cooker when we didn't raise the pot.)

We closed the lid, angled it towards the sun, and left it for a bit. At this point I learned my first lesson of the season: Make sure the outside of your pot is absolutely dry when you put it in the cooker!

I had given the pot a quick wash before we used it, and hadn't dried it properly. After it had been in the cooker for about half an hour it started to steam up the window. We had to open it all up again, wipe down the window, dry the outside of the pot, and then start again.

We left the eggs cooking there till about 3.30pm ... or maybe it was 4.30. I'm a bit confused by daylight saving.

During that time we moved the cooker about three times to follow the sun. As you can see from the pic below, by the end of that time it was practically falling off the deck. (And so was the cat.)

We opened the pot nervously. The water wasn't boiling, but a promising cloud of steam billowed out ...

My son did the honours with the first egg. The white was cooked.

And so was the yolk!

Hurray! Our box cooker works!


Lynda Eichler said...

Johanna - that's fantastic, how exciting - Congrats ! May I ask, how long did you expect the eggs to take or did you not really know? Do you think the water was ever boiling?

Johanna Knox said...

Hi Lynda - I had no idea how long they would take. I just wanted to give them the longest amount of time possible to make sure. I was really nervous that it wouldn't work! :o)

re boiling - good question. I'm not sure. I wondered if it had boiled at some point, because at the end of the day the window had steamed up again as if the lid had bumped up and down a bit and let a bit of steam out. But I don't know for sure.

It doesn't need to get to boiling point to cook, so I guess it got hot enough anyway.

Free said...

Woohooo! COOL! I'm totally inspired to give mine a go now. Just have to think of something that doesn't mind cooking super slowly... either that or I'll take so long to get around to it that the sun will be strong enough anyways lol

Nikki said...

Oh, how exciting! I was saying to Lynda and Em today that I need to get onto making mine still!

Ruth said...

This is sooo cool! I came across this really great guy called Yoshi and he talks a lot about solar cookers (and everything about his eco home in the North Island somewhere, right down to design detail, v. cool - he's sending me rice seed!). Anyway, he talks about how the sun puts out huge amount of energy and us silly humans utilise a tiny, tiny fraction of it... people would rather ruin the planet and intensely complicate things for energy instead...
Humans display so much stupidity, yet we are so capable of being really smart~! So yay that we have smart people like bloggers who post about solar cookers!
Jeeze, talk about going off on a tangent.
Anyway, another type of cooking we tried the other day was camp oven style...not solar though...I wonder if we could cook in a camp oven in a solar box - will try that. Was so impressed though with camp oven. Camp oven cooked organic chicken beautifully and really quickly. Just hot ashes on the top and bottom of cast iron camp oven. That's a great way for winter.

Andrea said...

Lol, you have a solar cat!

Johanna Knox said...

What a cool link Andrea! Thank you! Think I might sign our cat up.