We’ve only just begun harnessing the non-stop, 800 trillion-watt light bulbs’ worth of energy that sweeps our planet.
The move towards solar energy is growing. In large areas of China, India, Africa, North America and the Middle East, people have realized that they have a source of free energy right outside their homes, and want to use it. There’s even an “Occupy Rooftops” movement that demands solar panels on rooftops for the good of urban communities. Another example is the Jordanian Beduin women who learned the technology and brought it home to light their villages.)
Why not trap some of this free energy for cooking? In Morocco, some say that solar cookers should spread like satellite dishes. With only a little cash outlay and some effort, you can cook, bake and grill with no fuel but natural sunlight.
Solar cookers have been around since the 1800s, when astronomer Sir John Herschel cooked meals in a”hot box ” based on Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure’s model. The idea took off more seriously in the 1950s, and currently groups promoting solar cooking are active around the world. People have multiple uses for solar cookers apart from putting up pots of food. Canning fruit, dehydrating vegetables, sterilizing water or milk and even medical instruments via solar power is happening all the time.
The Solar Cookers World Network is has more information on the topic than you’ll ever need. After reading through it, you’ll be able to make (or buy) the solar cooker that suits you best, from a simple fold-up made out of a windshield cover to a powerful parabolic cooker or box oven.
Once you’ve got the cooker, you’ll want to get cooking. Most solar cooking recipes adopt a hearty campfire tone, but as your solar cooking sense develops, you’ll learn to adapt ingredients and cooking times according to your own taste. It’s free, it’s convenient,it produces no carbon emissions, it’s the greenest way to cook. And since foods cooked by the sun slow-cook, they retain all their flavors and nutrition.
Here’s a vegan soup recipe taken from the Solar Cookers World Network site. It looks like enough to feed an army.
Gallon of Great Sun Soup
1 pint ( 2 cups or 1/2 liter) diced tomatoes (canned or fresh, undrained)
1 can whole kernel corn (undrained) –
1 can broth (or 1/2 liter homemade stock or water plus bouillon or stock concentrate)
1 large onion, diced
2-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 c. dry beans or lentils, soaked/drained or slightly sprouted
1-2 tablespoons olive or other healthy oil
Water or tomato juice or vegetable cocktail
2 cups mixed seasonal vegetables
1/2 c. white rice, quinoa, pearled barley, OR small pasta
1 teaspoon salt
2-4 cups chopped chard, kale, cabbage, bok choy OR collards (optional)
1-3 tablespoons herbs, fresh or dried
Pepper or seasoned pepper
Mix first nine ingredients in dark pot that holds a gallon. Add hard seasonal vegetables now, tender ones with second additions. Add water (or other liquid) to bring level an inch or so from the one-gallon mark.
Bag or cover; set in cooker in full sun, early in the day. Once it starts to simmer (watch for steam, don’t open to check), give it an hour, then quickly stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and cook until it reaches a simmer again, then give it at least half an hour before checking to see if the grain or pasta is done.
Holds well in a heat retention cooker or box oven. Freeze leftovers for an easy supper another night. Good for solar cooking demos. Since it’s vegan, almost everyone can eat it (if you will be cooking for the gluten intolerant, rice or quinoa are the safest grain choices). If you prefer your soup with meat or sausage, add some at the beginning. This is a thrifty way to use up leftover bits of meat or chicken if you have some around.
Notes: To use slower cooking grains (brown rice, wheat berries, hulled barley) soak overnight or sprout slightly and add at beginning.
Cans should be of a size to yield approximately 2 cups – 500 ml. vegetables.
Read about solar energy in the Middle East on Green Prophet:
- DIY Solar Panels Made of Grass
- Sand-Resistant Solar Panels
- Largest Solar Roof in the Middle East
- Solar Tech Turns Brown Coal Into Clean Fuel
Image of cardboard solar cooker via Shutterstock.
Image of box cooker via solarcooking.wikia.com
Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.