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A few basic skills are all you need to master this new lifesyle

Why should we cook from the sun?

It’s free, clean and exciting. With the right equipment like the Patio Solar Oven, you can rely on perfectly cooked and baked meals every time. 

Why not? 

In South Africa we have an abundance of sunshine and now a solar oven to utilize it. It’s just waiting for you to let the sun in.

 

How to orientate the patio solar oven for optimal temperatures?

  • The oven is designed to cook almost any meal without having to move it during the cooking process. However, you will speed up the cooking process and reach higher temperatures if you manipulate the oven to face the sun more directly. 
  • Take the cover off and pull the oven into direct sunlight. 
  • Orientate the oven until the shade of the oven falls directly behind it. 
  • Open the lid untill the reflection from the lid falls on the black area inside the oven. This reflection increases the temperature inside the oven with more than 20ºC.
  • We found that moving the oven more than once every hour, does not make a big difference in the temperature. By setting the oven about 30 min before the sun and leave it like that for an hour, is very practical. 

How to use the electrical backup and the sun together?

The Patio Solar Oven is fitted with a specially designed low wattage, 200W, 220V electrical element underneath the black aluminium cooking area. 

The electrical backup was meant as a backup energy source in cloudy conditions, but it has proven to be a very handy tool to speed up the cooking process or just to increase the temperature inside the oven. The combination of thermal energy, (which warms up your car if it is parked in the sun) and photovoltaic energy, which is electrical energy, is unique in the Patio Solar Oven. 

If you want to preheat your oven from the sun only, it will take about 15 minutes, but if you switch on the electrical power, it will heat up much faster. The use of thermal and electricity is old technology that is standard in almost all solar hot water installations.

If you already installed solar panels (PV) with backup batteries, the electrical element is still driven by solar power.  

Why does the transparent lid has two layers?

In box solar ovens, most of the heat escape through the transparent lid. 

Air is a poor conductor of heat and the two layers with trapped air is an effective insulator. 

How does the Patio Solar Oven get heated up?

If you ever parked your car in the sun with closed windows, you would have noticed the inside of the car heating up. The Patio Solar Oven lets maximum sunlight in while preventing the heat from escaping. This build-up heat is called thermal energy and there is no electricity involved.

As it is also an electrical oven, it can be plugged into grid electricity (Eskom) or even a battery and inverter(PV).

The convenience of a thermal and electrical heating in the oven is technology used in solar hot water geysers for many years.  

How to make pap in the oven?

We do not provide special recipes for the oven yet, but instead, encourage you to use your proven recipes and just cook it in the Patio Solar Oven.

Put all ingredients of your favourite pap recipe in a black pot, stir once and put it in the oven until cooked. You do not have to stir your pap during the cooking process as it can not burn. However, if you stir your pap when the water is absorbed, you will end up with a perfectly cooked pap with an excellent texture.

Remember, the longer you can cook your pap, the better it gets. If your pap is cooked and you close the top lid, it will keep the pap hot for hours.

How to cook vegetables in the oven?

The golden rule of cooking vegetables in your Patio Solar Oven is not to add any water. For starters and confidence building, put a potato in a small pot in the oven, without any water and test it over some time. This is the confidence you need to cook your favourite and more complicated recipes just a bit differently.

How to cook potjiekos in the oven?

Making a potjie in the Patio Solar Oven is stunning and just plain simple. We always use the electrical element at first until we get the texture we prefer. Switch the power of en let the sun take over. Otherwise you may experiment, but we are convinced that you will always love the end result.

What pots can be used?

You can cook in any pot that can withstand 170+ degrees C. The darker the pots, the higher the temperature will be in the pot. Black pots are the best. Black cast iron pots work very well, especially for potjiekos, leg of lamb and other meat-related recipes. The picture above is from a lamb rib baked for four hours in a casserole with a grid between the two sides. 

Cooking in the Patio Solar Oven is very “soft” on your pots as it will never have to rub off burnt food.

How to dry rusks in the oven?

Drying rusks is generally a very costly aspect of the final product, especially in home baking conditions where smaller quantities are normally dried in an oven with the door open.

The Patio Solar Oven takes four rusk drying racks stacked upon each other. The transparent lid has two openings, one higher than the other, which can be opened to create a natural flow of air through the oven which will solar dry your rusks.

The oven temperature can further be manipulated by pointing the oven more directly or away from the sun.

How to bake in the solar oven?

Baking in the Patio Solar Oven is very exciting. We do not have to, but we almost always use the electrical element early on, especially when baking something big. Remember, if your electricity comes from PV panels and batteries, you still do solar cooking and the element is only 200W (Generally 10x less than a normal electrical oven)

Bake a proven recipe, just bake it a little longer.

How to cook jam in the oven?

Moving on to more exciting recipes. If you ever cooked jam, you will remember the constant stirring an probably the mess on the stove plates and surrounding areas. We all bare with it as nothing tastes like homemade peach or apricot jam from fruit ripened in our African sun.
Prepare your jam in the same way as before, put it in the oven and leave it until cooked. It will take longer, but it will not cook over.
Just to be on the safe side, put your pot with the jam in a bigger pot, just for incase. You will soon know how far you can push your jam in the oven.

Bottled beetroot basics

Place the beetroot in a pot inside the oven and leave it there without adding water until cooked. The cooking time will depend on the quantity to be cooked. Normally it will take two hours or more.

Baking and cooking for profit

Our tests in a rural community has proven that R2500 profit (which is the minimum wage in South Africa) can easily be earned by baking and selling only muffins. This income can be increased dramatically if cupcakes are baked for parties or special occasions.
This is so impressive that we put in special effort in the design of the Patio Solar Oven as it forms the basis for our mobile solar bakeries, which is already prototyped and will soon be commercialized.

Using the oven to keep food warm

The Patio Solar Oven is well insolated all around. Even the top lid has excellent insulation capabilities. If you, therefore, need to keep cooked food warm for long periods, just close the lid and your solar oven will do just that.

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