Renewable Energy Living: Solar Cooking, Agritourism and Ethanol Fuel

The Green Gazette column shares renewable energy living topics, including solar cooking, agritourism and ethanol fuel.

| June/July 2002

  • Cooking with the sun.
    Cooking with the sun.
    PHOTO: COURTESY SOLAR COOKERS INTERNATIONAL
  • Tourists at La Mota Ranch in Texas enjoy by-the-day ranchwork and homecooked meals.
    Tourists at La Mota Ranch in Texas enjoy by-the-day ranchwork and homecooked meals.
    COURTESY LA MOTA RANCH
  • Agritourism can be an ongoing operation or limited to specific dates for larger crowds.
    Agritourism can be an ongoing operation or limited to specific dates for larger crowds.
    COURTESY LA MOTA RANCH
  • Although this maze covers more than 20 acres in Idaho, mazes on a much smaller scale also can be profitable.
    Although this maze covers more than 20 acres in Idaho, mazes on a much smaller scale also can be profitable.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Cover of Resurgense magazine.
    Cover of Resurgense magazine.
    COURTESY RESURGENSE
  • How to survive a lightning strike.
    How to survive a lightning strike.
    DON FARRALL/PHOTODISC

  • Cooking with the sun.
  • Tourists at La Mota Ranch in Texas enjoy by-the-day ranchwork and homecooked meals.
  • Agritourism can be an ongoing operation or limited to specific dates for larger crowds.
  • Although this maze covers more than 20 acres in Idaho, mazes on a much smaller scale also can be profitable.
  • Cover of Resurgense magazine.
  • How to survive a lightning strike.

The Green Gazette column focuses on renewable energy living topics, this issue includes solar cooking, agritourism and ethanol fuel.

Cooking with The Sun

For solar ovens, cooking conditions couldn't be better than during the summer months. Not only does cooking with sunshine mean lower energy costs and cooler temperatures indoors, but many solar oven champions say food simply tastes better.

Practically anything you can cook in a conventional oven can be made with a solar cooker. Solar ovens follow a method similar to slow cookers, so food doesn't bum or dry out. On a clear day, temperatures in a solar oven can reach 300 degrees. Cooking times depend on what goes in the pot. Eggs, rice, vegetables, fish and chicken can take as little as one to two hours on a sunny day. The same conditions can also cook potatoes, bread, beans and most meat within four hours. Large roasts, soups and stews take the longest at five to eight hours. Even a cloudy day has solar cooking potential, as long as there's at least 20 minutes of sun per hour.



Solar ovens come in three models. The most common are box cookers ($200 and up), which trap heat using an angled reflective surface, such as a mirror, aluminum foil or Mylar, and a dark, metal tray bottom. One downside of the box cooker is having to adjust the box's position during long cooking times. The concave reflectors of a parabolic oven cook food twice as fast as a box cooker, but the high price tag ($700) and potential for bums and blindness from the directed rays make them impractical for home use. Panel cookers ($20) combine elements of both models. These ovens concentrate light using flat instead of concave reflectors while an oven roasting bag placed around a black pot acts as the heat trap. At $20, panel cookers are much more affordable than box cookers or parabolic cookers.

You can buy box or panel solar ovens from several U.S. manufacturers or build your own. Solar Cookers International, a nonprofit group in Sacramento, has a comprehensive solar cooking website, including detailed instructions for both models. The address is www.solarcooking.org.

michael_1
2/9/2008 8:24:41 AM

Crouching down in a lightning storm is useless. There is NO Place safe outside in a thunder storm. That's it, go to a substantial building or hard top auto. Other than that there is nothing you can do. NOAA & the NWS have stopped using the lightning crouch because it does not work. www.struckbylightning.org







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