New Solar Oven: Olla Solar

The sun provides ample energy every day.  It’s up to us to figure out how to harvest that energy and put it into use.  Our new solar oven can bake two loaves of bread per day, it can cook beans and rice, boil soups and cook them for hours, and warm up leftovers.  Solar ovens are a pretty magical way to harvest the sun’s energy and help save on gas, electricity, and firewood.

The Olla Solar (Solar Pot) arrived last week, shipped from a company in Monterrey, Mexico.  If you read Spanish, you can get more information about them on their website.  The idea is pretty genius: an foldable aluminum reflector holds a sturdy glass pot.  Inside the pot is a black metal bowl where you put bread dough, pre-soaked beans and rice, meat, or soup ingredients.  Cover the pot, and aim the reflector at the sun - in 2-4 hours you have cooked a meal or loaf of bread!  The black bowl absorbs a lot of heat, and the glass pot traps it, serving as a small oven.  The glass doesn’t get very hot; a careful cook can actually handle the glass after the food is done.  The black bowl gets very hot - over 135 degrees centigrade (275 F).

The reflector is a bit flimsy but serves its purpose.  We’re very happy with this product and may order another one.  Our friends in the nearby villages keep asking us how much it costs, so we may attempt to do a bulk order and resell to the nearby towns.  This area has lots of sunlight for about 75% of the year.  With solar ovens in action in the nearby towns, the whole region could potentially save lots of money on propane costs, with the added benefit of helping save the planet!

For those who live in Mexico and have a yard or place to set up this cooker, we recommend you order one.  Below we are cooking carrot bread.  We have also cooked a wheat flour bread (I was curious if the heat would be enough to do a yeast bread - yup!), beans, and will be heating up some leftovers for lunch today.

ollasolar

Our old solar oven was based on a design by Maria Telkes - read about her solar cooker in this great article.  It was constructed in a prototype fashion, and left out in the rain, and as we took it to town to have a metal worker look at it the whole thing fell apart.  We will build a new one in order to have as many solar oven designs as possible.

Solar Oven Links:
*http://www.solarovens.net/ - a USA based solar resource that ships an identical type of oven, as well as “The Sun Oven” - an oven similar to the Telkes’ design

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cooker - Solar Cookers on Wikipedia

*http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/The_Solar_Cooking_Archive_Wiki - A solar cooking wiki, with helpful resources and recipes

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