Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sun Oven Part Two: Moisture tips and tricks

Before I do our next Sun Oven installment, let me remind you that our awesome sales all end Tuesday May 29th at 10am. Harvest shelves, gluten free packages... you don't want to miss out. Contact me right away to place your order and get that special pricing.

Now on to the Sun Oven! I have been using mine A TON lately, and I love it!  I love the piece of mind that comes from knowing I have my Sun Oven, as well as the freedom I feel at being able to bake my favorite things even during the AZ summer. So do yourself a favor and contact me to buy a Sun Oven today, so you can save money on your electric bill now, practice your solar baking skills, and later, when you NEED to cook without electricity, you will already be a pro. As a reminder, if you order directly through me and my virtual party, here's what you get with your sun oven:

Free accessory pan(s)
 $28.21 in free product
Ability to cook without needing electricity, gas or propane
A way to save on your electric bill and keep your house cooler in the summer
Peace of mind from being prepared for emergencies 
All for the price of $282.14 plus applicable tax and shipping

So enough business chit chat. Let's get to the tips and tricks. In part one of this Sun Oven series, we went over general info. Today's we'll be talking about moisture. Regular ovens have vents and exhausts built in to them. As you cook food, the moisture it contains escapes as steam through these vents. If something is cooked too long, the moisture will all cook out, and it will become dry, crispy, or burnt. The Sun Oven, however, does not have any vents. As such, all the moisture of your food stays in the oven (as long as the door stays sealed shut). Here are some of the major benefits to a moisture-retaining sun oven:

  •  Meats and Baked Goods stay really moist and tender. Woohoo! Want your cookies to be the chewy gems of the party? Bake them in the Sun Oven!  These White Chocolate Craisin Oatmeal cookies were cooked on a partially over cast day (lower temperature than normal) for about an hour (longer cooking time than normal).  They were so tender that my husband actually preferred them to the batch I baked in my regular oven for comparison.  
  • You don't need to use as much water when cooking many recipes. You can use an entire 1/3 less liquid on recipes that have added liquids (Don't reduce the liquid in baked good items, however.) Here's an example: I grabbed my roasting pan and put in 2 cups dry rice, 2 cups raw broccoli, 2 cups raw cauliflower, and then topped it with 2 raw chicken breasts (cut into 3 pieces each). Normally, I would need to add 4 cups of water to cook all that rice, but since it's in my sun oven, I can use 1/3 less. So I added  2 & 2/3 cups water (with some salt and seasonings mixed in), poured it over the top of my chicken, veggies, and rice, put it in the sun oven at 11am, went about about my day, checked back on it at 1:45, and it was done. Here's how it looked: 
Raw ingredients
1/3 less liquid, everything cooked all at once for less than 3 hours, and the chicken was done, the rice was moist,  the veggies were tender. 
  • It is hard to burn things. If I left my macaroons in the regular oven 5 minutes too long, they would be burnt. In the Sun Oven, the difference is negligible. That being said, if you forget about something completely (out of sight, out of mind), and you leave it in there HOURS longer than you should, it might not be as palatable. But as long as you remember to set a timer inside, so you remember to go check on your oven outside, you should be fine. 
  • Because there are no vents, the air inside the chamber heats consistently throughout. This means you can actually hard boil an egg without any water. Just preheat the sun oven to 300+ degrees, place a dozen eggs in their cardboard carton (without lid) in the preheated oven, lock the door, come back in 35 minutes, remove the carton, and they will be done. I put mine in some ice water afterwards, to ensure easier peeling. Here's how they came out:
Paper burns at 451 degrees farenheit, and your sun oven won't get much over 350, so cooking them right in their cardboard carton is perfect. 
Easy to peel, and they taste wonderful. In fact, my husband was surprised to learn they had been "boiled" without water in the sun oven. He assumed they were just cooked on the stove top like normal!

Now, the moisture retention does create a few problems, the largest being condensation. Even with the lid on the roasting pot, when I went back about 3 hours later to check on the veggie/chicken/rice dish mentioned above, here's what I found:

Because of the fogged up glass door, the light wasn't reflecting into the cooking chamber effectively. As a result, the over all temperature had decreased to 200 degrees. I have been researching how to remedy this, and have read that if you place a dark tea towel over the dish, then add the lid, and the towel will absorb most of the excess moisture that would otherwise form pesky condensation. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I read the tip on the manufacture's website, so I am pretty confident it will work. Just to be sure though, next time I cook a high moisture food, I will be sure to use this tip and report back.

Another way to get rid of condensation is to just quickly open the door, let some moisture out, then close it again. Do be careful with that method though. It lets out the moisture, but if you forget to come back and check on your food, the decreased moisture lends itself to easier burning.

Rest the door on top of the latches instead of locked underneath to allow moisture to escape
  and turn your sun oven into a dehydrator!

Now, along the lines of opening the door to let out moisture, let me throw in here that if you rest your glass door ON TOP of the thumbscrew locks, (see picture above) instead of under them to seal it shut, you have transformed your Sun Oven into a dehydrator. Keep your oven at or under 200 degrees, place whatever you want to dehydrate on a rack that will allow air flow all around the food, prop the glass door on top of the thumb screws to allow moisture to escape, and let the sun slowly dry your food all day. You can make your own dried fruit, or sun-dried tomatoes like the ones I made this weekend. I am still fine tuning the process, and when I do, I will give you a more detailed set of instructions. Meanwhile, here is a teaser photo:

Sun dried tomatoes....literally!

All in all, the moisture retention of the Sun Oven is a wonderful benefit that when correctly harnessed, produces pretty awesome food. You use less water to cook (a major plus for limited water water supplies in emergency situations). And you do it all without electricty, propane, or anything but the sun itself. Order a Sun Oven today, I promise you won't regret it. You can contact me at or 714-683-7562.

No comments: