Today I’m actually going to make and test a solar cooker! The plan is a multipurpose oven useful for both cooking and dyeing (food and dye both be contained, so never touch the same surfaces, so there’s no worries).
I suspect I could solar dye without any special solar cooker (just sealed mason jars sitting on the sidewalk, I’ll bet–maybe I’ll test that theory today, too!) with all this nice summer sunshine. But for cooking, I’ll really need to concentrate the heat. I’ve got a bounty of summer produce, so I’d like to cook up and freeze a mess of it without overheating my kitchen (and therefor overtaxing my freezer).
Today I’m going to try building a solar cooker out of a rickety cheap bbq grill that isn’t working out (we have a decent one, too; this one was reserved for vegetarian cooking, but it’s more toy-sized, so I’m planning to replace it at the oddly early post-season sales–Target’s already clearing out summer stuff for back-to-school, and Hobby Lobby has freaking CHRISTMAS ornaments out). That will act as the base and raise it up a bit to avoid stooping. Then the reflector will come from two windshield shades from the dollar store (unlike the nice acccordian-style ones you get at Target these are very flimsy & will require reinforcement–I have extra chicken wire that I think will fit the bill) and the heat trapper will be the glass in an old disused picture frame I found. I also dug a couple of disposable aluminum chafing dishes out of the recycling bin.
I’m using this plan and on-hand scrounged materials as my jumping-off point (so far, the only thing I’ve had to buy specifically for this are the shades–my out-of-pocket cost would be way higher if I hadn’t dug up the other crap).
Aside from reinforcing the chicken floppy windshield shades, the only problem I foresee is the depth of the thing. I think it’s too shallow to hold my Le Creuset Dutch ovens or quart jars (for dyeing) as-is. Maybe I can rig up some extra height, either with flattened #10 cans, or buy cutting through the crappy top. It’s cheap, but I don’t think it’s probably cheap enough for tin snips….
Anyway, off to experiment!