How To Cook Using Solar Power
Many RVers add solar panels to their RV to harness the power of the sun. In turn, with great batteries, this solar power setup reduces costs associated with using propane and RV sites with hookups. It is not only economical to use solar energy for these RV needs, but have you taken it a step further? Have you tried using solar power for your RV cooking and baking?
How solar cooking works
There are as many kinds of solar cookers as there are RV choices. But the principle is the same for most solar cookers. You will prepare your food like how you want to bake it in the oven or cook it on your stovetop. It’s best to make or cut smaller portions of food because they will cook faster than if you leave them in whole portions.
Use a container that is conducive to receiving solar. Some options are black pots or clear dishes, and they can be placed inside the solar cooker, which can be set up on a brick, rock, or metal tray.
The solar cooker is placed in direct sunlight. Foods that cook quickly can be added to the solar cooker later. A solar oven is turned towards the sun and left until the food is cooked. Unlike cooking on a stove or over a fire, food in a solar oven is generally not stirred or turned over. This is because you want the heat to stay trapped inside. Instead, you will turn the oven to face the highest point of the sun and make sure no nearby shade creeps over your oven.
Cooking time will depend on the following items, so keep this in mind while working with your solar cooker:
- Equipment used
- Amount of sunlight
- Quantity of food
- Air temperature, wind, and latitude
- Time of day (food cooks faster in the two hours before and after noon)
- Size portion of food
If you aren’t a great cook like me, RV cooking with solar power can be great because it is difficult to burn or overcook food in a solar cooker.
Types of solar cookers
You can go with a small option to do little meals here and there, or you can go with a big option for serious cooking. Check out this video on how to make your own solar cooker by Hillsborough County:
Below is another great video from National Geographic on solar cooking. It describes the process as well as how it is used in other countries and how it creates clean drinking water.
There is even hybrid solar cooking where you can cook at night using power from your vehicle. If you do a search on smile.amazon.com for solar cookers, you will come up with all kinds of varieties. We love this All Season Solar Cooker from SolCook.
Solar cooking can help you create new flavors and experiences from local ingredients. Cooking outside frees up space in smaller RVs so you can go about your daily activities while the sun does all the work. You will want to choose the size of solar cooker based on the size of your traveling group and how often you plan to use it.
Recipes for RV cooking with solar
This is an easy one you may have tried in the past. Just sit a gallon of water in the sun in a glass container. Drape 6 family size tea bags inside and pour in 1.5 cups of sugar. Screw on the lid and place in the sun between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for great sun tea.
Stuff quart canning jars with vegetable scraps. Add ½ teaspoon of garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add ½ teaspoon of two of your other favorite soup spices. You can add meat scraps as well, but include a little wine or vinegar with it. Let it cook for the day and use for stock later.
Tips for RV cooking with solar
- Try adding walnuts under your meats while cooking. It keeps the meats elevated off the pan and adds a nutty flavor.
- Depending on how fast you want the food to heat up, use thin metal like tin for quick heat and cast iron for slow heat.
- Select your cooking dish based on whether your cookware will be directly in the sun or inside your cooker. Choose sealed clear glass containers for direct sun and black sealed containers for inside the cooker.
- Cook inside gourds for additional flavors. Just place a glass lid on top of them.
- When cooking vegetables, don’t use water or they will be mushy. You can overcook them and they will taste OK, but the color may look off.
Cooking with solar can not only reduce your gas usage, but it is also a nice feature to use in the summer. You can cook your meals outside instead of heating up your RV, which will then need to cool down again.
Using solar power is also a great way to be friendly with our ecosystems. It’s just one more way that we, as RVers, can help protect our earth without even trying hard.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.