Thursday, November 3, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Solavore Sport Solar Oven

The Solavore Sport Solar Oven may look like a plain black box, but looks can be deceiving. Years of engineering experience and testing went into designing the Sport’s base, boosting its functionality on multiple levels.

The Solavore™ Sport was purpose-built by solar-cooking experts for maximum efficiency, durability, and ease of use. Weighing 9 pounds and measuring 12 ¼” high by 27 ¼” long by 17” wide, the Sport is lightweight and portable. Oven temperatures typically range from 210º – 260º F, maxing out at 300º F. In other words, hot enough for slow-cooked goodness (food cooks starting at 180º F) but not hot enough to burn dinner. It simmers like a crock pot and bakes like an oven.

The Sport solar oven is very popular among campers, preppers, outdoor enthusiasts, bikers, sailors, and those in the LOHAS demographic, etc. They are used to cook a broad range of delicious food including meat, poultry, vegetables, fish, slow cooked meals and baked goods, without using cooking fuel of any kind other than sunlight. The Solavore Sport oven also pasteurizes water and dehydrates food. 

You can literally "set it and forget it" and go about your busy day. The food will be perfectly cooked when you return. Kids when using it get a science lesson on solar energy while enjoying the many fun children's recipes. They also won't get burnt or get their fingers pinched in the aparatus of this kid friendly solar oven. 

Designed by engineers from 3M, the Solavore Sport is a virtually indestructible, retained-heat box-type solar oven made of rugged, durable, lightweight injection-molded nylon resin. Surround insulation and two-pot capacity enable unattended, family-size year-round cooking. The Sport solar oven is an industry leader in price, performance, family-size capacity and rugged durability.

Every Solavore solar oven purchased in the developed world helps to fund a
Solavore Sport somewhere in the developing world where an open fire is still the main kitchen appliance. Over 20,000 Solavore Sport ovens have been deployed in 60 countries. The benefits that Solavore Works, Solavore's corporate social responsibility program, brings to communities in the developing world include:
  • Respiratory health: freedom from common diseases such as pneumonia, which kills more than 3 million people a year around the world due to indoor cooking fires
  • Water pasteurization and food dehydration
  • The removal of one of the main causes of deforestation in the developing world, the continuous chopping of firewood
  • Savings in energy expenditures, which can range up to 25-50% of a family's budget
  • The ability for girls to attend school rather than spend their days collecting firewood and venturing further and further away from home to do this
  • Increased income generation, enabling a woman to sell the excess food that she bakes or dehydrates in her solar oven 

Solavore is a women-owned business promoting clean-cooking technology around the world.

The preparation of food using heat is the most elemental of human endeavors. Cooking sustains our bodies, nourishes our souls, unites us around a common hearth. In a world of infinite richness and variety, cooking is a common thread stretching across time and cultures.

At Solavore™, we believe that cooking fuel should be healthy and as abundant as sunlight.

We build ovens that make clean-cooking fun, easy and liberating.

We build ovens that will be game-changers for women who risk their lives every day gathering wood or burning it, simply to feed their families.

Every oven purchased gets us one step closer to putting out a wood-fuel fire somewhere in the world.

Let's get outside and cook.

Visit Solavore:


Our Thoughts
I have been wanting a solar oven for a long time, so as you can imagine I was (and still am!) ridiculously excited to receive the Solavore Sport Solar Oven (with reflectors) for review.  Our cabin is off grid, and for the house we are planning to build next year we hope to have as much energy savings as we can. 

Summer/early fall has been a perfect time to try out the solar oven - we don't have central air in our current home by choice but during the heat of the summer, cooking indoors just serves to heat up the house further (as well as adding to our energy bill). And of course there are days where I do A LOT of cooking and often wished I had more than one oven.

Here's the setup:

You get the oven + lid, two Granite Ware 10" pots, an oven thermometer, and reflectors. 


Easy to assemble - because there really isn't any assembly required: just put the oven in an area that receives full sun during the day, fill a pot or two with yumminess and place inside the oven, place the oven lid on top and use the 6 clips to hold it in place. Add the reflectors if the weather conditions and what you're cooking requires it.  Start your meals in the oven by 9am (I did mine by 10am and it was all good) and then walk away . . . come back hours later and your food is cooked to perfection! Not even kidding about the perfection part . . . no, seriously.  It's PERFECTLY cooked!

Okay, so the first thing I cooked was a fresh ham roast.  It was a fairly good sized chunk of meat, so I cut it in half.  This not only allowed the Solavore Sport Solar Oven to cook it better (small pots cook better than densely filled large pots) but I then also got to cook it two different ways.  The first pot I just did salt and pepper, because sometimes I just want a plain pork roast.  The second pot I added mango-infused cranberries, onion, and some seasonings.

before cooking

fresh out of the solar oven - look at all those meat juices!

sliced and ready to eat
Plated with rutabaga hashbrowns and fresh fruit.  YUM!

The cleanup is incredibly easy, too.  Food DOES NOT burn in the solar oven - the oven temperature when cooking the pork roast topped out at 225F in the heat of the day.

Then cooking agony . . . I had soooo many food plans the first week of having the solar oven but the weather most certainly did not cooperate.  In fact, we got 7" of rain one night (can you say flash flood??  Our streets are STILL flooded 2 weeks later)! The weather remained mostly cloudy for a good week after that and the one sunny day we did have had 40mph winds, gusting up to a recorded 67mph. Not good for solar cooking!  It was SO. HARD. to wait for a good sunny or even mostly-sunny day so I could get back outside with the Solavore Sport Solar Oven!

When the sun finally showed its beautiful warm face again, next up were chicken quarters. I was going to try my medium-sized Granite Ware roaster in the solar oven but it was just a wee bit too tall - touching the oven's lid, so back to the two smaller 10" pots it was. I added apples, freshly foraged chanterelle mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, and some other seasonings.


perfectly done!
I'm well used to using a crock pot, and one of the things I really wanted to try in the solar oven was a venison roast.  Venison is a very lean meat and if not cooked correctly, will result in the driest roast you've ever attempted to eat. We eat a lot of venison - it's actually our main meat - so having a new method to try that promises perfectly cooked meat had me itching to try it.

Now, the directions say not to add any water or other oils to your roasts, but knowing that venison cooks better in the crock pot when slathered with unrefined coconut oil, I did the same for the solar oven.  I mixed seasonings in with the coconut oil and coated the entire roast with it, also adding bay leaves and orange slices.  The result? 

Fantastic doesn't even begin to cover it . . . the roast was so tender it just fell apart, which can be hard to achieve for venison.  Using the crock pot, venison is much more tender than using conventional oven roasting, but even the crock pot couldn't compare to the Solavore Sport Solar Oven.

unbelievably tender venison roast. *drool*

Tonight's supper is basically the filling for my own paleo recipe of chicken pot pie, minus the pie crust. Chicken, vegetables, herbs.  With the juices from the chicken quarters, (yes, quarters again! Hey, they were on sale for $3.99/10lb bag!) the added veggies will make for a fabulous thick stew to serve with the meat.

No "after" picture since what's pictured below is currently in the oven roasting away. But trust me, it will be soooooo delicious. :)

I have to say, the solar oven has become my new favorite way to roast meats. I am going to thoroughly enjoy experimenting with many different kinds of dishes!

More recipes can be found at Solavore:

Some cool things about the Solavore Sport Solar Oven:
  • use the reflectors to help heat the solar oven in less-than-ideal solar conditions - best to use them in the early morning and later afternoon, removing them during the heat of the day. 
  • pasteurize water using the Solavore Sport Solar Oven! Simply fill your pots with water, place the WAPI (water pasteurization indicator) in the center of the pot and let the sun heat up the water to 149F for 10 minutes or longer. When the wax in the WAPI melts, the water is pasteurized.
The company history is quite interesting too - and a big THANK YOU shoutout to Anne Patterson for keeping this solar oven alive and going!

I am a HUGE fan of this thing - if you're looking for a holiday gift for the cook or eco-conscious person in your family, get them a Solavore Sport Solar Oven!  Or just get one for yourself - it's well worth it!


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