You can build your own solar cooker from found items or readily available materials, and cook your food for free using sunshine, a totally renewable, clean, and sustainable resource! Here’s a photo of my solar cooker, built from plywood, glass and aluminium foil. I’ve insulated it further using cardboard, old rags and shed hair from our very furry friend at home.
Solar cooking is possible anywhere where there is direct sunshine for a number of hours, and you can cook this way for about 6 – 10 months of the year, depending on where you live. It is most suitable for cooking “slow food”. We like to cook potatoes, antipasti, stuffed vegetables, lasagna, rice and legumes in our solar cooker. Our cooker reaches around 100 degrees Celsius inside on a warm summer day.
Solar cookers come in many shapes, sizes and designs, such as solar box cookers, solar parabolic cookers, and more. Most designs have two things in common: reflective materials and black cooking utensils which absorb the heat. A fantastic resource to get you started is Solar Cookers International. I built my first solar cooker from a cardboard box, some aluminum foil, and a cellophane oven bag.
Solar cooking saves money on energy costs in two ways: the cost of energy required to cook the food, and the cost of energy required to cool your home as a result of cooking inside on hot days. In places where firewood is the primary cooking fuel, the use of two solar cookers can save up to one ton of wood per year!
Solar cooking solutions are being used in the developing world as a means of reducing the need for firewood for cooking, and in disaster situations and refugee camps in places like Darfur and Chad. If you don’t fancy solar cooking for yourself, perhaps you could consider donating a solar cooker to someone who needs one, via NGOs such as Jewish World Watch for their solar cooker project.