Solar cooking works but you do have to be patient and make adjustments according to current weather conditions. All cooking times vary according to what type of solar cooker you have and how it's constructed.
Just about any recipe you can make in a crock pot you can also make in a solar cooker. Many have found that using multiple smaller containers to cook smaller portions works better than throwing the whole recipe in a large container.
Water takes longer to heat than individual ingredients. Some recipes call for little or no water as they are relying on the moisture in the ingredients.
Try always to cook in dark colored containers. People have experimented with this and found that the darker the outside of the container the better and faster the food cooks. Some solar cooking afficianados use almost any type of container to cook in: mason jars and sauce jars. They even paint the outside (not the inside!) of the container black so as to draw in the heat better. Naturally you can buy dark colored roasters and cooking dishes.
There are homemade and commercial solar cookers available. Many people now are using the black backrounds instead of the silver foil and aluminum cookers. They not only paint the inside of the cooker black but some also put a black garbage bag underneat the cooking containers to draw more heat in.
* Easier Foods To Solar Cook:
cereals, rice, a lot of egg dishes, fish, ribs, most poultry, pudding, cookies, brownies, chops, fruit, vegetables
* Foods That Need More Effort:
potatoes, turnups, beans, gingerbread, medium-sized roast, buns, lentils, black beans, souffles
* More Difficult Foods:
most beans, most peas, whole turkey, stews, cakes, garbanzo beans, if the water if brought to a boil before solar cooking it's easier to cook stews, soups and beans.
What works best is to try and get the heavier dish(es) into the solar cooker in the morning at around 8am. Some light recipes will only take an hour or two to cook. On a fair to good sun day the recipe should be cooked at around 2pm or 3pm. The larger and denser the food being cooked naturally the longer it will take. A cool breeze is nice to cool us off but it also cools the food in the solar cooker so you have to add approx. 15 to 20 minutes on to your cooking time when it's windy.
1 package Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
1 chopped green onion
Mix first three ingredients with enough buttermilk to get the right consistency. Bake in preheated solar oven at 325º for approx. 70 minutes or until done.
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 cup corn, frozen
1 8-oz. can stewed tomatoes (drained) or fresh tomatoes
1 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup Bisquick baking mix
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
Place ground beef and onion in dark pan. Cover and cook for one hour. Drain. Add seasoning mix, corn and tomatoes. Beat together the remaining ingredients and pour over the ground beef mixture. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Optional: 1 8-oz. can of dark olives, 3 tablespoons of taco sauce and 1 cup cheddar cheese may be added.
Remember that cooking times will be approximate according to the weather, type of solar oven you have and the containers you're cooking with. Of course adjust the optional ingredients to your taste.
By using a solar oven you save a little money on electricity and also get "off the grid" as some people aim to do as much as possible. You have a little more independence when you solar cook or have other solar based items in your home such as a roof array or solar heater.