Thursday, December 2

Solar Winter Cooking is All in the Timing

Winter Solar Cooked Meals Need Timing
For new followers, I'm updating an older post to help with using a solar oven during the colder months. On a sunny day, the outside temperature doesn't matter; but, what time you begin to solar cook does matter. If you've prepared your meal the night before, as you would for a slow cooker, placing your meal in the solar oven before going to work, no problem; you'll have a wonderful meal waiting for you.

But, same-day preparation means you'll need to plan on using the best winter times for solar cooking -- between 10:00am and 2:00pm.  This meal was actually cooked between 1:00pm and 4:30pm, but that was with full access to the sun. A meal started after 2:00pm would probably require finishing up in the conventional oven.

This 1.5-pound package of pork loin was removed from the freezer and defrosted in the microwave. A loaf pan was lined with sliced onions, the pork loin placed over them, then spices, more onions, some raisins, and the whole thing was sealed in an oven bag. For my side dish, I used a packaged mix of scalloped potatoes and put all those ingredients in a second loaf pan. Both were placed in their own SolarWear(tm) Carriers and into the sun oven by 1:15pm.

Sun's Trajectory Much Lower During Winter Months
The sun moves much lower in the sky during winter months, so I used the leveler in the solar oven and raised the back full up with the attached telescoping leg for a full exposure to the sun. The picture on the right shows both pans in the oven before being covered with the SolarWear(tm) top. I checked on the pork loin at 2:15pm and the meat thermometer stopped at 120F. After another 30 minutes in the solar oven, the thermometer showed a nice 140F, so I brought it inside to rest and continue to cook a little.

I left the scalloped potatoes in the solar oven because they were still not soft enough. Reconstituting dried potatoes takes longer than using fresh potatoes, in my opinion, even if sliced paper-thin. [NOTE TO SELF: Reconstitute in liquid before adding other ingredients and putting in oven.] At 4:30pm, the sun was just too low in the sky and behind the trees in my yard, so I brought them inside and left everything to rest. By 5:30pm, pork loin roast's internal temperature had risen to 148F and dinner was ready.

I sliced the pork loin into 1/2" slices and they were beautiful from edge to edge, but not browned. Put a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan and seared each slice for 1.5 minutes on both sides. Poured the juices with onion and raisins into the saute pan to deglaze, and reduced to half. Added 1/3 cup white wine and salt and pepper to taste, reduced a little more, then served over pork loin slices. Perfection.

Microwaved some broccoli and cauliflower in one Tablespoon of water for about five minutes on half power. Plated everything and enjoyed a wonderful winter day's solar meal. Yup, it's all in the timing.

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