Solar powered cooking has made some progress. It is being used successfully in parts of the world where electricity and gas are not available on a reliable schedule. Solar cookers are an alternative to propane cook tops, fire pits, and grills for the outdoor cooking everywhere the sun shines..
The Solar Cooking Archive has lots of ideas and plans for constructing or purchasing solar cookers. One cooker is made from some Velcro and the shiny vinyl screens that you use to shade your windshield. The base is a plastic bucket topped with the shade in a triangular shape, then a square cooling rack (from baking) or a small grill rack, and finally a black metal pot in a cooking bag. The designer, Kathy Dahl-Bredine, maintains the temperature inside the cooking bag will reach 350ºF.
The Solar Oven Society offers a Sport Solar Oven for $135 plus $23 for the optional reflector and $33 for shipping. This portable solar oven holds two 3.4 quart pots and is described by the manufacturer as a solar crock pot which would indicate that the temperature is slow (<200ºF). At only 10 pounds, the Sport Solar Oven is a good choice for the backyard, the beach, and the camp out.
Sun Oven sells a model that is sized to support a commercial micro-bakery in developing regions around the world. They work with funding agencies like Rotary Club and offer a support package to the entrepreneur that includes:
- Develop a customized marketing and distribution plan for their region.
- Establish and monitor cash flow and profit objectives for their location(s).
- Outline a growth plan to allow an increase in sales and profits.
- Develop appropriate human resource policies that will enable the bakery employees to improve their standard of living.
There are 51 Sun-Bakeries in six countries at present.
Given Michigan's beaches, campgrounds, and our appetite for outdoor fun, maybe it is time to give solar cooking a try. The investment can be reasonable and the cost of the solar energy is covered.
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