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Go Sun solar oven - sharing experiences and recipes

 
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Over in another thread Hank Waltner suggested perhaps we try making a new thread dedicated to sharing experiences and recipes using a Go Sun oven.  For those not familiar with these they are a particular brand of solar cooker that uses evacuated tubes more commonly used in solar hot water systems.  These provide excellent insulation allowing one to cook with the sun in freezing outdoor temperatures.  The challenge can be that as a result of the long glass tubes the cooking trays are also long and narrow.

Normally in my region this time of year ( winter solstice/Christmas ) it's very cloudy with little sun.  I got one of these solar cookers in the fall and haven't really gotten to play around with it too much yet.  I hadn't even tried using it on cloudy days.  Last week I did give it a shot reheating some leftovers on a slightly brighter cloudy day.  I left it out for an hour or two, not really expecting anything.  Surprisingly the food was slightly warm, though there was absolutely no risk of burning ones mouth on it!

Today it's a nice sunny but cold day.  The temperatures are hovering right around the freezing point.  I loaded up the tray with some leftover stuffing, baked tofu, and green bean casserole from our Christmas dinner and set it out aimed at the sun.  I checked it 20 minutes later and it seemed warmer, but I wasn't seeing much steam so decided to let it cook another 20 minutes.  At that point it was definitely steaming, though this doesn't show in my photo.  The tray was very hot to the touch when we pulled it out, so was the food.  Before we began eating this tray I loaded a second tray I have with more and set it out to cook as we ate.  We then ate and I went to check the second tray immediately after.  I don't know how long it was, but it was a shorter time.  I'll guess 25 minutes.  The sun was still shining fully.  As before when I initially checked the food right at the end of the tray by the opening didn't seem super hot, but further down the tray it was good.  So I brought it all in and found our "second course" of the meal to be nicely heated.  That first tray probably would have been in the same period of time too if I had checked it further down the tray.

This particular meal isn't really a recipe for cooking, just using it as a nifty device for reheating.  I didn't need to add any water, or anything.  I just put the leftovers in and let it go.  The food was moist and hot as it should have been.

Does anyone else have experiences and/or recipes to share?


Solar-oven-with-food.JPG
Here I'm loading the tray of cold leftovers into the cooking tube.
Here I'm loading the tray of cold leftovers into the cooking tube.
solar-oven.JPG
Aim the reflector to be roughly perpendicular to the angle of the sun and let it heat up.
Aim the reflector to be roughly perpendicular to the angle of the sun and let it heat up.
solar-oven-with-cooked-food.JPG
The outside of the evacuated glass tube is cool to the touch, but inside the food is steaming hot once cooked. Sorry the steam didn't show up in the photo.
The outside of the evacuated glass tube is cool to the touch, but inside the food is steaming hot once cooked. Sorry the steam didn't show up in the photo.
 
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I'm going to post so I can get updates and add something later. I build this style cooker this weekend and have yet to try it out as I've not built the food trays yet. Tested it after dark using a BBQ thermometer & a 40 watt incandescent bulb. Measured 19 degrees Celsius to 77 degrees Celsius in 40 minutes.
IMG_20220102_171338.jpg
image of home made solar cooker
 
David Huang
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James, is the tube in your solar cooker an evacuated glass tube where you will insert cooking trays?  It looks like it will work nicely.  Please do let us know how it goes once you get to try it.
 
James Sullivan
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David Huang wrote:James, is the tube in your solar cooker an evacuated glass tube where you will insert cooking trays?  It looks like it will work nicely.  Please do let us know how it goes once you get to try it.



Yes it is. I hope so. Will do.
 
James Sullivan
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For anyone following without an evacuated tube cooker. There is an open box sale at GoSun on now. If you were waiting this maybe a good time to save some money.
 
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Lessons I’ve learnt so far - early days, I’ve only cooked grains.

1) Do not over fill. If you want to complete the Cook grain in a solar oven Badge Bit do it in two goes. My first attempt was a failure and I put it down to lack of preparation and not putting it on a perfectly flat surface. My second attempt was also a failure - the amount of water required to cook two cups is right at the limit of the storage capacity and when water warms up it expands and leaked.
2) Rice at the very end doesn’t cook unless you stir it up. As per the last lesson, I was trying to complete the BB. The rice in the middle was over cooked and the rice at the end was undercooked. On the fourth attempt, I pulled out the tray and tried stirring it up, but it was still too full and caused a mess. So back to lesson 1, do not overfill.
3) Brown rice takes waaaaaay longer than white rice even with overnight soaking before cooking.
4) You can cook when it’s less than 0’C but you need to be mindful of the hours of available light and where the sun goes. Mid winter where I am in NJ, even though the sun is up, it’s often behind buildings and trees.

This is a great topic and I will be back with more experience. I have big plans for my solar cooker once I have a little more available light. I had to put my experimentation plans on hold over the Christmas period as the family require reliable food!
 
David Huang
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Thanks for reporting your experiences Edward!  I haven't yet tried grains, assuming you don't count warming up leftovers.  I do remember reading in my GoSun literature to be careful to not over fill when cooking things that expand like rice (or baking bread).  Great tips on stirring.  I wouldn't have thought to do that.  Question though, when you say it didn't cook as well at the end are you referring to the end closest to the opening (my assumption) or both ends of the tube?

I also basically just use brown rice these days so thanks for the heads up that it will take much longer!

I had forgotten about the PEP badge bit for cooking grain in a solar oven.  Thanks for reminding me of that!  When I was more actively doing BB's I didn't have a solar cooker and so put that one aside for the time.  I need to now go back and do that one!  Though like you I will probably be waiting until the days have gotten longer and sunnier.  I live in a winter gloom belt do to my proximity to Lake Michigan.  While this winter has been much sunnier than normal, heavy overcast days still prevail.

I did do an experiment making a whole food plant based vegan carrot halwa in my GoSun cooker last week.  While it turned out significantly different than a traditional carrot halwa it was still quite tasty.  I need to try it again, perhaps with a couple tweeks, document it, and share it here for anyone interested.
 
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Thank you for bringing this up! My cooking currently is mostly pressure cooker multiple servings, then reheat for a couple days. In 2 months I'll be moving to Wheaton Labs and was thinking that the reheating leftovers part could be handled nicely by a solar cooker, so I'll probably grab their GoSun Sport model and have it delivered to Paul.
 
David Huang
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So far I gotta say this solar cooker is great for reheating leftovers so that's probably a good idea Mark!
 
We've gotta get close enough to that helmet to pull the choke on it's engine and flood his mind! Or, we could just read this tiny ad:
Tour of Wheaton Labs, the Movie! - now available!
https://permies.com/w/tour
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