So you want to cook rice in your solar cooker...
You've purchased or crafted a solar cooker, but now what? Actually using a solar cooker can be intimidating because using them can be a bit different than typical methods of cooking, such as the use of a stovetop or rice cooker appliance.
Sometimes it helps to have someone with a little bit of experience looking over your shoulder and guiding you through the process. That is the intention of this hub. By learning how to cook something simple like rice, then you can gain confidence in your solar cooking skills and begin to utilize your new solar cooker in preparing a variety of meals.
As you read this guide, keep in mind that the ratios or times may differ depending on the type of cooker as well as the temperature and weather conditions that day. Remaining attentive to your food is necessary when solar cooking, especially a food that doesn't require a long cooking time. However, getting an idea of where to begin along with some helpful tips can sometimes be half the battle in learning a new method of cooking.
Oven Used in This Hub
The oven used in this hub is the Global Sun Oven. This is not necessarily the best oven, but simply the one that we own. I chose it for its versatility, sturdiness, and capability for reaching higher temperatures than other ovens.
We have used it for several years, and it still works well.
- 1 Cup Rice
- 1 1/3 Cup Water
Step 1: Measure Rice
Measure 1 cup of rice. If you are using converted rice, rinse the rice after measuring.
You can always increase the amount of rice to be cooked as this is not an exact recipe but rather a process. Simply pour as much rice into the measuring cup as you would like to cook.
Keep in mind, though, that sticking with the measurements provided may give you a sense of the rice to water ratio for solar cooking as it is different than other preparation methods. Once you get a sense of what is needed, then you can easily increase the amount to be cooked without problems.
Measuring the Rice
Step 2: Add Water
Add 1 1/3 Cups water to the rice.
Personal experience with attempting to cook rice in the solar cooker has shown us that the ratio of water to rice must be altered for solar cooking. Although some recipe books state that a 1:1 ratio is best, we have found that a little extra water helps to create a fluffier and better cooked rice in the solar cooker.
If you decide to increase the amount of rice to be cooked at one time, then you may want to try "eyeballing" the amount of water. In the past, we have simply put the rice in the pot and covered the rice with water, adding a bit more for a margin of error.
Measuring the Water
Step 3: Add Everything to Pot
A variety of pots can be used for solar cooking, but the pot pictured below is particularly effective as it is made of a light metal, black, and has a lid. This sort of pot can be used for a wide range of meals, including soups, rice, and even the initial cooking of soy burgers.
Add the rice and water to whatever pot you choose, making sure that the ingredients are stirred and distributed evenly.
Adding Ingredients to the Pot
Step 4: Put the Pot in the Cooker
One beneficial thing about cooking in a solar oven is that there is very little muss or fuss. Put the pot in the cooker and forget about it for awhile.
As you can see in the picture below, our model has a lid, along with large reflectors. One thing to consider, of course, is the weather outside. If the weather is windy, then you will want to watch the oven to make sure it is not disturbed or turned over by the winds. If this is the case, you can add bricks or rocks to support the raised side. Too, as the sun moves over time, you will want to confirm that the oven is not in the shadow of other plants or structures.
Placing the Pot in the Cooker
Step 5: Move the Cooker as Needed
When we first began cooking with the sun, we knew that the oven had to be oriented to the sun, but we had no idea how. We would stand in front of the oven, moving it until the reflection was brightest. I do not recommend this method.
I later discovered an easier way to do this. Simply look at the shadow cast by the cooker. Grab the oven from the back and move it until the shadow is as square as possible. This will allow you to safely align the cooker without any danger to yourself.
One additional consideration is that you may have to tilt the cooker for the best angle. Our model has a leg that you can lower or raise depending on what you need. However, you can also use bricks or some other object to prop up the cooker.
Orienting the Cooker
Step 6: Remove the Pot When Cooking Is Done
Another step that was difficult for us to do was telling when the food was done. We were frequently opening the oven and the pot, thus letting out the valuable heat. It was then that my husband discovered what to look for toward the end of the cooking time.
If you look at the picture below, you will see condensation on the lid of the cooker. When we see this sign, we know that we should check the food to see if it is done. This has saved us a lot of time and effort.
Taking the Pot Out
Step 7: Enjoy Your Food!
And that's all it takes to cook rice with the sun! By mastering one food, you can easily try cooking others outside. Get creative, and have fun!
Perfectly Cooked Rice
Hugh on September 20, 2014:
Roughly how long would one cup of rice take to cook?? I'm assuming the temp in the oven is over 275.
Great instructions. Will be trying it out. Btw, sun oven has an upgrade kit that will add a couple of improvements to your oven. Especially lining the oven up. :-)
Krista Schnee (author) from Wichita, Kansas on July 16, 2013:
Thank you, Thelma, for the kind words! I am glad that it was of help.
Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on July 16, 2013:
Wow! Very interesting! I have never heard of solar oven before. Thanks for sharing this idea on how to cook rice in a different way. Voted up and useful;-) Have a great day!