Solar ovens and solar dehydrators are two awesome and easy ways to utilize the sun’s energy for cooking and preserving your food. They both can be built with something as simple as cardboard or if you have the capabilities and want, then you can make a sturdy structure with wood. Obviously, the options are as abundant as your creativity allows.
Dehydrators are an excellent option for storing all the excess fruit and vegetables from your spring and summer’s harvest. While freezing is an option as well, drying your food frees you from relying on an electrical appliance that has the ability to fail or shut down. The food that you dry can be kept in a sealed container, such as a glass jar, for up to a year!
Solar ovens are especially useful for those who live in an efficiency or studio. A friend I work with constantly complains about not having the capabilities to cook because she does not have a conventional oven or stove. However, living in Durango, Colorado, which is a city proud of it’s sunshiny 300-days a year, she has yet to realize that a wonderful cooking option is at her back door.
Here are a few sites to give you some insight and examples of how some solar dehydrators and solar ovens are built.
Mother Earth News: This aricle is extremely informative and gives the reader a good insight to a good solar dehydrator design.
The Farm: Here is another design that incorporates found cardboard and household items, making it easy for anyone to get creative.
Solar Cooker: This link sells different soalr cookers, but it also shows you some of the easiest ways to make a solar cooker. All you need is something reflective and you are in business.
Pizza Box: I think this may be a link for students and science fair projects, however, it still shows a good idea on a how to make a solar oven with simple objects.
My suggestion would be to build a box, with whatever you have and make sure it is sturdy. Then, find an old window at a garage sale and maybe an old screen as well. Use some rocks to place inside the box to capture some heat. Depending on where you live, you may not have to paint anything black. Just experiment and have fun and make sure your oven is not too big so you do not have a ton of heat loss. Finally, enjoy the deliciousness of a slow cooked meal under the sun.