Cooking in a solar oven is often compared to cooking in a crockpot. A crockpot provides low, even heat that slowly cooks and tenderizes without a lot of fuss and bother. In the same way, a solar oven slowly cooks and tenderizes with only a minimum amount of watching. Just about anything that can be cooked in a crockpot can be cooked in a solar oven, with very little alteration to the original recipe. Today I gave the solar oven a little competition by cooking the exact same thing in the crockpot. My goal was to see how the solar oven stacked up against a crockpot. I choose pinto beans – a very easy test.
I placed 1 cup of dried pinto beans in the crockpot and added 3 cups of water. At the same time, I placed the same amount of beans and water into a round pot for the solar oven. I let each sit and soak for an hour. (They could have soaked longer, but I wanted to get them started cooking.) I turned on the crockpot to high and put the beans out in the solar oven at exactly the same time, 9:30 a.m. Periodically, during the day, my husband went out and realigned the solar oven to keep it in line with the sun. We checked the beans at noon and added another cup of water. We did nothing to the crockpot.
After 6 hours, at 3:30 p.m., the solar oven beans were soft and ready to eat, just needed to add some seasoning — salt and pepper for us. But the crockpot beans were still a little hard, so I left them to cook for another 2 hours. At 5:30 pm, they were softer, but still not soft enough for us for dinner. Also, the crockpot beans were a lot darker in color than the solar beans.
I am puzzled by the results. The beans had enough time to cook in the crockpot. Perhaps I should have let them soak longer, but the solar beans did fine.(And I confess, most times when I cook beans, I don’t let them sit and soak at all – just right into the solar oven!) Was the crockpot hot enough? I accidentally touched the outside at one point, and I can guarantee that it was hot!
I love my crockpots, but today the solar oven won.
You might also like to cook lima beans in the solar oven.