Cooking Off Grid with Solar and No Electricity

Table of Contents

Why Is It Important To Have An Off Grid Cooking Method?

Having a sustainable clean water and food supply are the two most important ways that you can prepare your family for a disaster/emergency situation. Both are absolutely essential to our life and health and if you have followed me for any time, you know I touch on these subjects quite often. Read my guide on how to secure an off-grid emergency water source

I have had the privilege of consulting many families on-site to analyze their level of preparedness. Over the years, I have seen all too often that a family will have enough food in storage for the timeframe that they are preparing for, but without a sufficient means to prepare, heat, or cook the food! 

People assume they will be able to cook over a campfire when it comes down to it, but I would never recommend this as a go-to option for cooking. Cooking outside on a campfire is not only unrealistic for all of your meals, but it increases your risk for respiratory disease due to bad air quality – the number two cause of illness in the world. 

What Are My Off Grid Cooking Options?

There are a lot of ways to cook food off grid. See my Ultimate Home Prepping List to read about the different options for off grid cooking. Traditionally, I have used biomass as my source for cooking off-grid, but the more I have gotten into solar energy, the more I want to do EVERYTHING with it. So in this article, I’ll be focusing on how to use solar energy to cook off grid without power.

You have probably already heard of the Sun Oven. Recently I got back in touch with the folks at All American Sun Oven so that I could try out cooking with the sun with their product. I chose the Sun Oven because it is a compact method of cooking food AND pasteurizing water. In this article I’ll share its capabilities as well as my experience with it. 

sun oven solar cooking off grid

What Can You Do With A Sun Oven?

With the All American Sun Oven, You can dehydrate, steam, bake, cook, and even pasteurize water. We actually have some missionary friends in Uganda that work in an orphanage that we hope to get one of these Sun Ovens out to. This family often faces an insufficient supply of fuel/biomass to cook and sanitize water, and because the water quality is so poor, they consequently experience a lot of illnesses. There is plenty of sun exposure where they are located, so we figured a Sun Oven would be perfect for them. So the Sun Oven is also is great for missionaries and humanitarian workers to use on the field to cook and supply safe drinking water if they are in an area with plenty of sun. 

You can watch my video or keep reading below to learn about my experience with the All American Sun Oven. 

What’s Included With The Sun Oven? 

You can order the Sun Oven alone for $389, or you can purchase a full package kit for $439. I decided to go with the full package. Here’s what came in the box:
  • Sun Oven  
  • Parchment Paper
  • Directions
  • Leveling Rack
  • Wind resistant alignment leg with ground stakes
  • Sun Oven Cookbook with 40 recipes and instructions for dehydrating and cooking
  • 2 easy stack pots with glass lid
  • Multi-level dehydrating and baking set
  • Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)

How To Set Up The Sun Oven

Before you begin setting up your Sun Oven, it’s worthwhile to grab a pair of sunglasses, as the sun will be reflecting brightly off of the mirrored flaps. I also found it much easier to use the Sun Oven on a flat, raised surface such as a trailer bed or picnic table rather than on the ground. If you are using the oven on the ground, there are nice stakes included in the oven that you can use to anchor the device in windy conditions. 

You will also need to use a cleaning solution to effectively remove the protective film that the SunOven is packaged in. We used a 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water solution, allowed it to steam in the oven, and then rinsed it out thoroughly. It was a pretty simple process.

To adjust the Sun Oven, there are legs on the back that can be adjusted to reach the right tilt. There are indicators on the front of the oven that will guide you to arrange the Sun Oven in the most optimal position for sun exposure. You may have to check the indicators a couple of times during your cook time and make minor adjustments to keep the oven in the sun’s full exposure. There is also a temperature gauge on the front for you to refer to.

sun oven cooking off grid

That’s pretty much all I have to say about setting up the Sun Oven. It’s a simple process and the indicators on the front of the oven make things that much easier!

Reconstituting Freeze Dried Food with the Sun Oven

For our first experiment, we reconstituted Mountain House freeze dried seafood chowder. I recommend using a little less water than usual because the Sun Oven gets really hot and traps in plenty of moisture. You can keep practicing to figure out the right amount for your food. All-in-all, I was impressed with how the Sun Oven performed. The reconstituted food turned out better than what it would have on the stove top.

solar cooking off grid freeze dried food

Pasteurizing Water with the Sun Oven

You can pasteurize water easily in the Sun Oven by using the Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI) included in this kit. Simply fill a pot with water, place the WAPI in the water, and then place the pot in the Sun Oven. The WAPI contains an industrial wax that will begin to melt after reaching a certain temperature, indicating that it has reached pasteurization temperature. After 6 minutes, the water is pasteurized and any microbes and harmful bacteria have been killed and is safe for drinking. The WAPI can be used hundreds and hundreds of times and is not limited to use with a Sun Oven. You can use the WAPI over a campfire, with charcoal, propane or with any type of fuel you use for heating water. You could switch out batches between the two containers and get ahead on your water supply for the next day. This is a great method to supply clean water for drinking, brushing teeth, etc. if safe drinking water isn’t readily available. And as I mentioned before, it’s great for missionaries or humanitarian workers located in sunny regions with limited fuel.

Cooking with the Sun Oven

For our cooking test, we baked Roman Chicken and it turned out beautifully and was unbelievably easy. I found that on a hot sunny day, it was nice to have this option to cook outside rather than heating up the house with the oven and running the AC more. The Sun Oven made for a nice, modern day summer kitchen that you can take with you anywhere. 

off grid cooking with solar sun oven

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