A Guide to Better Solar Cooking with the Solar Flare Parabolic Solar Cooking System
Like with anything new, it takes a little practice to become comfortable and proficient using a solar cooker. Below are a few tips and techniques that have helped us when using the Solar Flare Parabolic Solar Cooker, but can be applied to other solar cookers.
- The solar cooker works best when the UV index is 7 or higher. (Sun high overhead, few clouds.) Use a location that is sheltered from the wind as much as possible and receives several continuous hours of sun between 9:00 and 17:00 (summer) and 10:00 to 14:00 (winter).
- Increase cooking times are required for partly-cloudy days, sun not directly overhead (e.g., wintertime).
- Stirring is not necessary for most foods. We recommend checking the contents of the cooking vessel once or twice during the cooking process. At that time gently shake the vessel is all the stirring that is necessary. Food generally will not burn in the solar cooker if enough water is added to start.
- Cooking duration will depend on time of day and year.
- Adjust the funnel every 45-60 minutes & shake cooking vessel for even cooking. The Solar Flare requires this far less than the other solar cookers.
- Beads of moisture inside the environmental bag indicates that it is time to check if the food is done.
- Pail, lid, and plastic riser can be cleaned and used to serve food.
- Use a cloth or gloves when handling a HOT cooking vessel.
- Use sunglasses when working with the cooker as there are reflections that could be uncomfortable to the naked eye.
- Plan your meals ahead of time that you would like to prepare and cook in the solar cooker.
- Prepare most of the ingredients ahead of the time so you have them ready when you are ready to cook.
- Use a timer for cooking time to be more efficient so you can cook multiple meals in a day.
- Use a stem food thermometer if you are unsure of temperatures for proper food safety.
- To speed up cook time, presoak legumes (beans) and some grains the day before cooking, as well as marinating and preparing your meats.
- Size and amount of food can affect cook time. Do not fill cooking vessel more than two thirds full and cut up food portions into as small as possible pieces. We use our Dual Solar Flare Kit that comes with two complete solar cookers to cook more food quickly and easily during the peak hours of sunlight.
- Plan on a little more time to cook than for conventional stove top or oven baking.
- Use a sunny, south facing location. Plan for a convenient sheltered area nearby in case there is a breeze, such as a wall or vehicle