LESS IS MORE: Baked in sunshine

A COUPLE of clear winter days had me cracking open my solar oven.

Solar cooking is at its best in summer, but is still possible at other times of the year. As long as the sun is shining, it can be used to cook.

Hummus made with sunshine cooked chickpeas Tricia Hogbin

Hummus made with sunshine cooked chickpeas Tricia Hogbin

Solar ovens use reflective mirrors to concentrate sunlight and convert it to heat. Most solar ovens typically reach temperatures of only 100 degrees (for a home-made cardboard box oven) to 180 degrees for a box oven like my Sun Cook Solar Oven. This low temperature makes them perfect for slow cooking.

Anything you would cook in a slow cooker or crock pot will cook perfectly in a solar oven.

I can put something in the solar oven and leave home for a couple of hours and not worry about burning the food.

You don't need a fancy solar oven to solar cook (although they do make it easier and quicker). An internet search for "cardboard box solar oven" or "pizza box solar oven" will reveal instructions.

My recent winter solar cooking included chickpeas. They weren't quite cooked by the time the sun went down, so I popped the pot on top of our pot belly stove that night to finish them off.

The following day we enjoyed hummus - cooked with sunshine and fire. To me, that's a whole lot sweeter than opening up a tub of supermarket-bought hummus.

Tricia Hogbin writes about learning to live better with less at littleecofootprints.com.