For our last installment of this summer’s Cool Cooking series, we’d like to explore an extreme Cool Cooking Concept: solar cooking! Of course, the results won’t be cool, but your house will be, since all cooking will take place outside.
Solar cooking uses reflective foil to intensify the sun’s rays, slowly cooking food placed over the foil. Foods ranging from science-experiment potatoes to Solar Pot Roast and Solar Pinto Beans can be cooked with the sun. Solar cooking is environmentally friendly and cheap, and is being promoted in third world countries where it can greatly benefit residents: it protects their health from the fumes of cook fires, it saves them the time/labor of searching for firewood or the money spent on fuel (which can be used to buy food instead), and it protects limited wood resources. Solar cookers bring freedom in particular to the women who do the cooking; for example, girls can go to school instead of searching for firewood.
Get your kids ready for the school year by having them make Solar Potatoes for dinner: all you’ll need is a bowl, aluminum foil, modeling clay, toothpicks, and chunks of potato to cook. Cooking instructions are here: http://www.scienceprojectideas.co.uk/cooking-with-sun.html. Or try Solar S’mores using a box to make your solar cooker: http://climatekids.nasa.gov/smores/.
If you want to get really into it, you can buy or build an actual solar cooker. While some models cost from $200 to $400, a wide-variety of build-it-yourself plans are available here: http://solarcooking.org/plans/. (Click on a language link under the cooker that you want to build.) A well-known, simple model is the “CooKit.” If you don’t have time to gather the materials for a CooKit, you can buy a kit for $25 here: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/CooKit. Money from your purchase supports the work of Solar Cookers International, a nonprofit that promotes solar cooking around the world.