Archived posts 2013/15

Just like magic

We couldn’t have asked for a better day as we gathered at Geoff Benge’s to be introduced to the world of solar cooking. Clear skies and bright sun meant that Geoff had some impressive samples ready to come out of the oven upon our arrival – beer bread, meatloaf and spare ribs. Apparently anything you can cook in a slow cooker will work in a solar oven.

solar cookers
Some of Geoff’s prototypes basking in the Waikanae sunshine.

I still find it amazing though that a simple box lined with an old sink and topped with a see-through lid can generate temperatures of 100°C or more. With a spring like this, it looks like the summer for solar cooking at my house.

Geoff had a range of prototypes on display and talked us through the basic design and principles. Key tips were:

  • It’s bright light that cooks your food, rather than hot sun per se (e.g. they’re used in the Andes).
  • Sealing the unit as best you can helps, as does insulating around the pan.
  • Apparently size does matter as a larger oven will reach higher temperatures.
  • Opening it to stir your meal slows things down.
  • Adding a velcro strip to keep the cat out is a good idea.

If you’re keen too, Geoff can help in a range of ways – from advising on the design of your DIY version, to selling you a piece of polycarbonate for your lid, through to bulding one for you. You can contact Geoff at geoff @benge.co.nz or 04/ 904 7699.

3 thoughts on “Just like magic

    1. Done. We built one recently and are still perfecting our cooking technique, but are glad we added a wee latch to stop it being opened. Geoff’s came about after the cat got in and sampled their dinner; ours is super-useful for stopping curious kids letting all the heat out….

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