Monday, July 15, 2013

Solar Cooking: Bran Flakes and Beans

Today was a high of 90°F and very few clouds. Perfect weather for solar baking!

I decided to try out a couple things: cooking dried beans and baking bran flakes. I also made some solar reflectors to concentrate sunlight. I glued aluminum foil to cardboard.

Dried Beans

I found an entry on eHow about how to do this, so I figured I'd try it out. My crock pot is black and the perfect size for cooking 1lb of dried beans. So last night I soaked 1lb of black beans in my crock pot. This morning I drained the beans and added warm water, then I had it outside by 9am with my new reflectors.

I used a glass jar to support the reflectors and keep them from sliding. Eventually I'll come up with a better system.

This was unsuccessful. The water never got hot enough to cook the beans. I highest temperature I measured was 180°F at 3pm when I brought it inside.

I then stuck the pot in my crock pot and turned it on to cook. Unfortunately, I forgot about the beans and overcooked them. Now they're a bit mushy. Eh, whatevs. Mushed black beans are great for taco filling and brownies, so no big loss.

So even though it didn't work, I still think it was worth it to try it out.

I have ideas to build a better solar oven. Hopefully I'll try it out later this week since it's going to continue to be hot.

Bran Flakes

I needed to make Steve some bran flakes to take into work, and these seemed like a great thing to bake outside. Turns out I was right!

I'll post another entry with the bran flake recipe I use. But basically, you mix all the ingredients, roll it out onto some parchment paper, bake that at 350°F for 5-10 minutes (until the the edges get crispy), rip it up into flakes, then bake that at 275°F for 20 minutes (stirring every 5 minutes).

After I rolled out the mix, I let it sit outside for about an hour. Then I ripped it up, and let it sit out for a few more hours. And they were just as good as baking them in the oven! (Ok, Steve said they were a little chewy. So I'll just leave them out a bit longer next time.)

I didn't have to turn on my oven on a 90°F day for it, so that's a success to me!