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Cooking Meat, the Solar Way

The Day Superman Got a Sun Oven

Super Anthony
He really is a SUPER man.

By Lisa Brunette

Yeah, that's my superhero hunk, AKA the other half of Brunette Gardens... But what's that shiny thing there in the left corner? It's not kryptonite... It's a Sun Oven!

The Sun Oven is just what it sounds like: It allows you to cook solely with the power of the sun. It's a simple design with practical functionality, and it's 100 percent fossil-fuel free. In our inaugural Brunette Gardens newsletter, we mentioned we'd been cooking and baking all hot summer long with this thing. It's great to have a solar oven to bake with in the high heat of our muggy summers, and moving the cooking outside while we're trying to keep the house cool helps us save on A/C costs. We've successfully baked a whole chicken, a beef roast, and a pie. We also cooked a pot of rice to kick off the whole experiment.

Rice in Sun Oven 3
Pot of rice in Sun Oven.

As you can see, the Sun Oven is a cleverly designed box flanked by a solar reflector, which focuses the sun's energy onto the item you want to cook. It does not require fuel of any kind, and if you're looking for an electrical cord attached to this thing... keep looking. It really does work without any of that.

It's fairly simple to use. You set it up on a level surface, such as our cement patio here (this is where a garage once stood). There's a prop stick in the back that allows you to tilt the oven to align with the direction of the sun. A convenient hole gauge assists with this alignment by showing you the sun's cast shadow so you can line up the holes. A hanging rack allows your food to sit parallel with the ground, no matter the oven's tilt. Here's Anthony setting a pot of rice onto the rack.

Rice in Sun Oven

The only tricky part comes in predicting how long to cook your food, based on the sun's intensity. On a really hot day at the height of summer, you'd be surprised by how quickly your food cooks. You also do need to rotate the Sun Oven to keep up with the sun as the Earth rotates through the day, the sun's position in the sky changing. But this is about the same amount of attention that we typically give to a pot of rice on the stove, for example, so it's really not that big of a deal.

Rice in Sun Oven 2

If you're thinking that this Sun Oven looks too bulky and awkward to deal with, never fear: It folds up for convenient storage. We keep ours in the basement and carry it out to our back patio by the handle, like it's a piece of luggage. It's lightweight, and I have no problem carrying it in one hand.

Sun Oven Folded Up

The Sun Oven is made in the United States of America, at a small company here in the Midwest. They provide Sun Ovens to people in developing nations, too, which can really make a difference. Last year when the power went out for so long in Texas, people who owned Sun Ovens were still able to cook their food. It doesn't have to be summer for this to work; if the sun's shining, you can cook in the middle of the snow in winter.

Now that the weather's changing, we can't wait to try that! 

Brunette Gardens is a proud Sun Oven affiliate. If you purchase using this link, we might earn a commission.