I chopped up three sweet potatoes and maybe half a stick of butter. It was too much for the cooking tray. Maybe one sweet potato would have been more appropriate.
It was maybe 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit outside, mostly sunny, but with occasional clouds and the gentlest sprinkles of rain.
I loaded the tray into the stove at 2:45 pm, oriented it toward the sun, and checked on it maybe three times while it was cooking. By 4:15 pm, steam was rising from the vent and it smelled quite yammy and yummy. I think the taters would have started to brown up a bit if I'd left them in there longer, but I was hungry and impatient, and the piece I tried was hot, plenty soft, and delicious.
Cleaning the cooking tray was easy, but I could see it being a little tricky for someone with a smaller sink. The inside of the tube itself was a bit harder to get clean. I think the stove originally came with a special cleaning tool, but I couldn't find it and had to improvise. I ran some hot water into the tube and swished it around, then stuck a paper towel on the end of a long skewer thingy and used that to wipe out the inside of the tube. This method worked okay, but I might be wary about cooking especially messy foods in it.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at how effectively the stove cooked these sweet potatoes without any fuel other than sunlight. Downsides would be the limited capacity of food it could fit, and the difficulty cleaning, (however, maybe the special tool that comes with it would have mitigated that.)
It was an overcast 60 degrees Fahrenheit day. I loaded 6 slices of bacon into the cooking tray at 10:45 am and oriented the stove towards where the sun seemed to be.
I went about my other work and at noon noted that it had begun to rain gently. At 1:15 pm the rain had stopped and the enticing aroma of cooked bacon drew me to open the stove.
At first I thought perhaps the bacon wasn't quite crispy enough, and admittedly it wasn't as crispy as bacon cooked in a frying pan. But it sure was delicious and certainly fully-cooked. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that it was more delicious than the frying pan bacon.
All in all, considering the rather sub-optimal conditions, I'd say the solar bacon experiment was a wild success.
I was planning to test out the water boiling capability of the stove, but after finding and reading the manual, I discovered that if the stove originally came with the special boiling insert, I couldn't find it. I also read that if I wanted stuff like bacon to be crispier, the key would be to leave it open just a bit to allow more steam to escape. Good to know.
Instead of boiling water, I decided to try to see how much I could cook in a single day. I started with 6 carrots and some butter. It was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and clear and sunny at 8 am and the carrots were done at 10 am.
There was still butter left in the tray so I cut up 3 potatoes and added them at 10:30 am. It was mostly sunny and about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and by 12:15 the potatoes were done.
Next I whipped up a 6 egg omelette with turkey, cheese, and just a splash of milk, and loaded it into the stove at 12:50. By now the outside temperature was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was still mostly sunny. One problem I encountered was that some of the gooey eggness ended up dripping out of the tube and onto the parabolic reflector. Apparently I had the stove on a less than perfectly level surface and after correcting this and wiping up the mess it seemed okay. At 1:30 pm, I opened the stove to discover a greatly expanded and amazingly fluffy omelette. It was crazy delicious.
Unfortunately, cooking the eggs made a bit of a mess, so I didn't try to cook anything further. The manual recommended using aluminum foil to contain messy stuff, and that probably would have been a good idea.
Aside from messiness and difficulty cleaning, I think with a little forethought, one could very easily cook all their meals for a day using this stove, especially if it's sunny for at least part of the time.
I do wonder if instead of using a pyrex tube because thats what this is , how effective a simple pyrex dish with a lid would be ? Then all you would have to do would be make a parabolic reflector .
Also would this make pop corn ? I could see it being a good stall to have at a fair
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
David, as I read it, the standout feature of this oddly shaped gizmo, and the larger followup version, is that the tube is a long skinny glass doughnut filled with vacuum, so you end up with something optically transparent, but very thermally insulated. Not a feature most pyrex dishes have! A head to head comparison with a more basic solar oven would definitely be interesting.
Evan, if you check back, I'd be interested to hear if this has become a regularly used item.