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Off Grid Cooking  RSS feed

 
Posts: 32
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Anyone have any first hand experience with cooking in an off-grid solar powered home? Obviously it would cost a mint to be able to power an electric oven with solar so what works best for inside the house cooking? Wood, propane? Just plan on cooking outside? I like propane because I like cooking with gas but that is not really off grid. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 
                                      
Posts: 19
Location: Joseph, Oregon
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hey rover.  i love my sunoven for cooking.  i have had it 3 years now and am sure that it has paid for itself.  i have a propane range and i really hate burning fuel.  the sunoven works great for everything, roasting chicken, mac and cheese, boiling water for tea-i grow alot of herbs for tea.  i originally bought it to sterilize potting soil and have moved on to all things food.  it is especially good for baking.  just threw some spuds in today and saluted how much better than the conventional oven.  they cost around $225 and can be used year-round.  i have seen sites online for making your own fixed solar oven (not movable to follow the sun's path).  unfort., i only get to use it about half the days here in eastern oregon.  on partly cloudy or slightly overcast days, i can dry herbs or pre-soaked nuts, which should not be taken above 130F. 

they are used alot in devel. countries where native foragers over-collect firewood and are decimating the forests.  i think that there are intern. conservation programs to buy them for the people. 

good luck if you try it.
 
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
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I've been off-grid since the 70's.  I have three systems:  Wintertime wood stove, summer solar cooker, old RV propane stove where  there's no pilot light (manual turn-off.

I use propane (for cooking stove only) in the winter to supplement the wood stove.  Use propane for very early hot water year round.  Use solar cooker in the summer sun.  I use about 10 gallons of propane each year, and that includes oven baking. 

It's more HOW you cook than what you're cooking with, i think.  I use pressure cookers, dutch ovens, etc., and 'group cook'  as in cooking large portions at one time.
 
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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i have an old wood stove with an oven in it, this can cook everything you need. but it is a hassle most days when i work so i also have a small wok burner and a 5 gal propane tank for quick cooking. which costs me 10$ a year to cook on. the burner itself cost me 40$. the wood stove is great for cooking for a group of people. you can easily cook a full course meal for 4-5 people or more with one small fire all at once.

if you use wood from coppiced trees your good to go.
 
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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     Rocket stoves aren't just for thermal mass heating. There are hundreds of examples on the Internet of light and sometimes portable rocket stoves which are used for cooking. Since they are cheap to build it would make sense to have one inside the house which would augment heating the building and have one outside for use in summer and thus avoiding the hot kitchen. Your outside stove could be portable so you can move it to the most comfortable part of the yard or take it on vacation.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1471
Location: Vancouver Island
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
i also have a small wok burner and a 5 gal propane tank for quick cooking. which costs me 10$ a year to cook on. the burner itself cost me 40$.



The wok is designed to cook small pieces hot and fast with very little fuel. The small food pieces lend themselves well to eating them with a couple of small sticks which can be burned next cooking and don't require cleaning. Added bonus... the fuel can be the twigs which, at least round here, are not considered of any worth and so can be had free.... maybe from your own yard pruning. Works great for the summer.

In the winter, cook on whatever you heat with. The Russian peasants oven is a great example... cooks, warms and makes a bed for the young and old.
 
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I am more and more fascinated by bio gas. which method would use the least gas?
 
Jordan Lowery
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The wok is designed to cook small pieces hot and fast with very little fuel. The small food pieces lend themselves well to eating them with a couple of small sticks which can be burned next cooking and don't require cleaning. Added bonus... the fuel can be the twigs which, at least round here, are not considered of any worth and so can be had free.... maybe from your own yard pruning. Works great for the summer.



you can use more than just a wok on it though. i use my cast iron pans on there a lot too. a wok burner is just what they are called. any pot or pan can go on there. i did make a rocket stove wok burner once though, it worked great until someone broke it. ive also made one of those rocket stoves that goes into the clay soil. it worked great until winter came and ruined it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 447
Location: South West France
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I use a rocket stove for cooking in the summer. My latest design is an improvement on the little rocket stove I've used for the past couple of years which blackened my pots and everything they touched !

We're fortunate in that we've already rigged up a boiler system which, with solar panels in the same closed circuit, heats our hot water.

The design's simple. Make the stove, then using the top of the barrel used to make the outside of the stove, cut a space out of one side then another hole in the top. Squeeze the top into the barrel until it's stable.



I then use a cast iron plate to make a cooking surface which completely covers the barrel top. With the open space in the barrel side directed towards the back boiler, in this case a cauldron in our fireplace (Which we can also heat with a BBQ or a log fire), the flame is directed where I want it and the stove cooks and heats the water at the same time.



When the sun isn't heating the water enough for our needs, I take the cooking surface off the stove and push it directly under the cauldron. That way, the house stays cool in the summer and only the water gets heated.

In the winter we cook, bake and heat the house with a woodstove.








 
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A 1920 perfection kerosene stove does it for me.
 
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Anyone have experience using a Pressure Cooker with solar?
 
Jake Van
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Those wood stoves are sexy. How consistent is the heat? Is it easy to control the temperature? Where is the best place to source them? Is it better to buy a modern one or try for a classic? What should you expect to pay? Can you use them in the summer or would it be better for an outdoor kitchen? They look REAL heavy!
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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larry does yours have multiple firing chambers? what are those cylinders below the cooking surface.

 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 447
Location: South West France
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We have almost finished our extension and for cooking, decided on a bottled gas cooktop for summer and a Rayburn.

The Rayburn has got a fast and a slow cooking top, I love cooking on it. We've had thirty people here for a couple of weeks on courses and this and the gas top can handle all the cooking and heats the house really well.

I like things to be multifunctional and this suits our purposes. You can keep things warm, dry clothes, seeds, herbs, warm lambs, dry cast iron things, get candle wax off things, put canned food on top to make it easier to get out of the bottle, warm your bum etc.




You can get six pizzas or two big dishes or a giant turkey into the oven




It heats 400 litres of water and six radiators upstairs. The rooms are toasty warm if all the heating is on but that's not often as we mostly use the rocket heater.




The huge pillars to hold up the upstairs are just behind the Rayburn and the dogs and cats sleep there between it and the other thermal mass of the burnchamber of the old rocket heater.




This is the wood corner where the animals sleep and, just behind the Rayburn, there's the 400l water tank. It's a lovely corner and it's free'd up the rocket bench for us !!









 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 447
Location: South West France
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Jake Van, here are my answers to your questions about wood stoves.

Those wood stoves are sexy.
They are
How consistent is the heat?
Keep adding wood and the best ones run 24/24
Is it easy to control the temperature?
You add more wood, open up the air vents and it gets hot, on better ones you can choose to favour the temperature of the oven or the temperature of the water and also whether you want it to heat the water or the radiators. When you're cooking on a stove, you don't control the temperature, you use it. You need to learn when to open up a vent or move the pan closer to the hot spot or leave it over at the cooler edge but once you have the hang of it you're flying!
Where is the best place to source them?
I haven't got a clue for your location but we found ours in a local small ads.
Is it better to buy a modern one or try for a classic?
It's depends what you want to use them for.
What should you expect to pay?
We paid 1500 euros for ours.
Can you use them in the summer or would it be better for an outdoor kitchen?
I sometimes use our in the summer for the oven, to heat the water and when we're doing conserves. Ours has insulated lids, so doesn't give off too much heat when they are down. I would never use a wood stove outside for hundreds of reasons, better to build a rocket oven.
They look REAL heavy!
It took four men to lift ours. There's a lot of steel and thermal mass in a good cook stove.







 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 447
Location: South West France
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I just thought I'd add that the Rayburn heats the water and radiators by thermosyphon and doesn't need an electrical pump to work efficiently.
 
pollinator
Posts: 430
Location: Michigan
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Nice, Irene! I cannot tell you how much enjoyment reading about your system just gave me.

Wood stove cooking has a knack. Irene explained it effectively as can be.

We have a woodstove/heater indoors and use it 3 seasons.... Michigan. We built a sheetmetal oven the size of a large toaster oven and use it on top, just made cookies last night and its a corn bread machine, no turkey, more like pheasant!

It also heats water seasonally and whenever the storage tank needs a boost.
And dries.... everything.

(must have glass for fire gazing!)
My favorite appliance.

For heavy chores and utility we have an outdoor stove that is a base made of stone and an industrial food proscessing hopper utilized upside down to cone into the 4" outlet. It has a convienient base flange that is 1/4" thick and fires into a double castleated collet of sheetmetal or "burner", a cast iron plate (old vogelzang cast iron floor plate) and or a large 7 gallon restaurant pan wide and shallow is used for everything from deer legs to maple sap to large batches of hot water for utility and small pans just as well.

The same base gets a grill placed over it for that use....
and it is our fire pit for gazing.

I would not shun electric cooking unless you have a truly micro electric capacity or it does not suit your way.

Our other appliance is an inexpensive electric two space hot plate. 900w large plate /400w small, most days it is no issue, even with our modest solar energy capacity and availability. I find most of the energy is consumed to bring up to operating temp and then the cycling starts and consumption over time is low. We use this 3 seasons as primary and all year on opportunity.

Coffee or a light meal for two, fast and no fuel or fire starting required even in a few days overcast or at night.

It only takes a couple hundred watt hours or so to make breakfast unless its never ending pancakes or for dinner- soup, then maybe 400 watt hours.

If i had a larger system, i wouldnt hesitate to use an electric oven when the sun shines for a 3-4 hour bake-athon on opportunity. Controlability and more or less instant operation are the convienience of gas and electric and im not going back to gas unless it is woodgas produced onsite.

Mid size convection ovens should not be overlooked, depending on your situation.

A hydronic flush mounted crock pot in the countertop is an appliance id like to build and have.



 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 447
Location: South West France
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Frank,

I've been looking on the 'net but not found the answer.

What is, A hydronic flush mounted crock pot ?

...and how would you build one ?
 
frank li
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Location: Michigan
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Irene Kightley wrote:Frank,

I've been looking on the 'net but not found the answer.

What is, A hydronic flush mounted crock pot ?

...and how would you build one ?



! A slow cook pot, sometimes a "crock" or earthenware pot. I think that is the meaning.

If you have seen commercial or restaurant soup warmers and buffet tables with basically vats or stainless tubs sitting in hot (or cold) water, that is basically it. A slow cooker run off of our sdhw and wood boiler heat storage.

It would be a coil of copper or stainless tube as a heat exchanger wrapped around a pot, inside another insulated pot. When a pot is placed in a hole in the counter top,  it is nested into a heat recepticle.

This would allow the pot to be pulled and cleaned without a gacky batch of water and sediments and such as seen under a buffet warming station and i could load the pot and leave, coming home to a slow cooked meal.

Like a countertop slow cooker (roaster pan shaped usually) or crock pot (cylindrical, usually and ceramic), but without the electricity or water bath.

And! Flush mounted in the counter top so that a very low profile lid and bezel is all there is when being used or not. Before that id like a food scrap hole, a stainless ring drip edge or shaped stone underneath so i can wipe the food prep scraps into the hole and keep cutting without toting a compost pail unless its going to the piles.

It would keep the compost bucket out of sight for the day and ill have way less scraps all over the floor around the pail. I try to toss and or do a hasty cutting board sweep with my knife in the heat of battle and it gets like a confetti party arout the bin!

Onion skins are the worst, they migrate all over the kitchen before im done, that and coffee grounds.

As an aside we make coffee in a plain old pan, gravity seperates the grounds from the infusion and it is decanted off with all its lucious oils and without flashing off the volitile medicines......

and without the French or their press!

Thats a funny for you! Love seeing photographs of your facility.

 
Whatever you say buddy! And I believe this tiny ad too:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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