Frequently Asked Questions
How hot does it get? How long does it take to cook in this solar oven?
The typical range for the Solavore Sport is 200º to 300º F. Plenty hot enough for all types of cooking, since most foods cook at 180º. There are many advantages of cooking at lower temperatures. First, it is virtually impossible to burn food in the Solavore Sport. Food retains its color, texture, and nutrients when cooked at lower temperatures. Most importantly, you can set your food to cook in your Solavore Sport and leave for the day, whether for work, for play, or for lending a hand to a neighbor. Some solar ovens claim to reach temperatures of a conventional oven, but, like a conventional oven, you cannot leave your dish unattended.
How much does the Sport weigh?
At just 9 pounds, the Sport is one of the lightest solar ovens on the market. And with capacity for two 3-qt pots (or equivalent), that’s a lot of cooking capacity for
an oven a 6-year-old can carry! Is the Sport safe around children? The Sport has 1” of surround insulation – top, bottom and all four sides. That means that the heat stays on the inside while the outside is warm, not hot, to the touch. There is no glass whatsoever on the Solavore Sport.
Is the Sport breakable?
The Sport housing is made from nylon resin injection-molded under 1,000 tons of pressure, making it light weight and virtually indestructible. We drop test our housings from 12’ onto a concrete floor – so you can rest assured it will stand up to rough weather (and kids and dogs).
Do I have to use the pots that come with the Solavore Sport?
Two 9-inch covered graniteware pots are included with every Sport shipped. Black, lidded pots provide the greatest heat transference to the food inside, accelerating the cooking process. However, you can use whatever pot or pan suits your dish – cookie sheets, Pyrex lasagna pans, your favorite bread loaf pan. The darker the better, but not mandatory.
When do I use the reflectors?
Reflectors almost double the amount of sun captured, resulting in a lift of about 25º F. Reflectors come in handy in three situations: (1) baking, where the yeast, baking powder or other leavening agent benefits from greater heat. (2) Passing clouds. The Sport is so well-insulated you can continue to cook even when the sun goes behind a cloud. If you have 30 minutes out of every 60 of good clear sun, you’ll continue to cook. (3) when you got a late start and you need a boost! Otherwise, and in the majority of all day slow cooked dishes, you don’t need your reflector.
How long does it take to boil water?
Forever. Boiling water is not the job of the Solavore Sport, just as you wouldn’t use your conventional oven at home to boil a pot of water. The good news: you don’t need to boil water! Rice and grains cook beautifully, consistently, in the Solavore Sport. The secret: use less water, about 25% less. Cut back the liquid in soups and stews; the moisture retained in cooking will make up for it, and with more flavor. Don’t add water at all to vegetables (fresh corn, broccoli, green beans, etc) – which means no leaching of vitamins and nutrients.
How long does it take to cook food in the Sport?
Most foods cook in 2-4 hours, depending on the angle and quality of the sunshine. There are foods that do take longer, such as large cuts of meat, dried beans or rice cooked in water, etc. Some quicker-to-cook foods can be added to the solar oven after harder-to-cook foods have been cooking for some time.
How long does it take to get my solar oven once I order it?
Usually ovens are shipped within a few days of your order. Delivery ranges from 2- 7 business days anywhere in the continental United States.
Do I add water to foods cooked in the Sport?
Not when cooking vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. They contain enough water to cook properly without additional water. This produces great tasting, healthy food that retains the nutrients. Everyone who tastes vegetables cooked in a Sport solar oven is surprised at how delicious the flavor is when no additional liquid has been added. Vegetables contain a small amount of natural sugar that, in solar cooking, is caramelized to release a full, rounded, slightly sweet flavor we often do not experience with regular cooking methods. We encourage you to try carrots in your Sport and see if you agree!
When cooking grains, beans, rice or pasta, water must be added to re-hydrate them. An efficient way to do this is to preheat the water in the solar oven for 20-30 minutes before adding the dried material.
What does it mean to “pre-heat” the solar oven?
Preheating can be done by placing the empty oven facing the sun. Do this while you are preparing your food. Within fifteen to thirty minutes, the pans and the oven will be very warm. Food can then be added to the pots and the cooking process begins more quickly.
How do I care for my Sport?
Clean the lid with clean water and a soft cloth. You do not want to scratch the lid. Scratches will minimally interfere with the sun shining through it. There are Novus plastic polishes available to polish the lid if it does become badly scratched. Clean the inside with clean water with some dish soap, if necessary, and dry with a clean cloth. The pots can be cleaned normally. Be sure to wipe out any excess condensation that may gather in the bottom of the cooker. Store your Sport in a dry, safe place where it will not be scratched or dented.
How long will my Sport last?
Properly maintained, your Sport will give you many, many years of cooking pleasure.
Where can I get recipes for cooking in my Sport?
We suggest you use your favorite crock-pot recipes and make any necessary adjustments for the solar oven. Check our recipe page where other Sport cookers share their culinary discoveries, and send us your favorite solar oven recipes.
How do I bake breads, cakes and cookies?
The Sport will cook these foods, but it will not brown them like a traditional oven. For cookies, we suggest you use the reflectors, pre-heat your oven and place the cookies on a black cookie sheet (the floor of the oven measures 9 ¼ x 17 ½ inches) that fits the Sport. Cooking times will vary, depending on the angle and quality of sunshine. Generally cookies will take about 1 to 1½ hours depending on cookie size and sun angle. You will have to watch the cookies to see when they are done, but refrain from lifting the lid to check on their progress as that will let all the warm air out and slow the cooking time. Cakes can be prepared normally and will take approximately 1½ to 2 hours to cook. Breads take from 2to 3 hours.
Should I stir food while it is cooking?
No. Stirring to prevent scorching isn’t necessary because the temperature of the food rises evenly; there are no hot spots. It is almost impossible to burn food in a solar oven. Additionally, each time you open the oven and the pots, you let warm air escape and cool air come in. This slows the cooking process.
Why is there a layer of thin plastic taped on the bottom side of the lid?
This specially designed plastic taped on the inside of the lid produces an air gap that helps insulates the oven. Please do not peal this off, as it will reduce the effectiveness of your oven.
Does the Sport solar oven work without reflectors?
Yes, the Sport reaches temperatures of 210-270 degrees Fahrenheit (F) when placed in full sun and will cook most food in 2-4 hours, much the way a crock-pot slowly cooks food. In equatorial parts of the world, temperatures can reach 300 F. When the angle of the sun is lower (early spring, late fall and winter in the U.S.), the Sport can be placed on its back in order to be at a better angle with the sun. (Smaller, dark pots will be needed for this angle).
When do I use reflectors?
In the early spring, late fall and winter or on partly cloudy days, the reflectors will increase solar gain and speed up cooking. Reflectors can raise the cooking temperature and will cook food faster. Because we have chosen a plastic lid for durability and weatherability (especially in developing countries) some warpage of the plastic can occur with the use of reflectors. We recommend you discontinue use of reflectors when the thermometer registers temperatures of 270 degrees F or higher.
Can I cook year round in the Sport?
Yes, if you have clear sun. If the air temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will want to use reflectors to increase solar gain. The Sport does not cook food in cloudy weather or at night. It takes longer to cook food if there is a strong wind, and the air temperature is cold. When the angle of the sun is lower, in early spring, late fall and winter, IT IS A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE to set the Sport on its back. This creates a steep angle to the lid (60-degree) allowing more sun into the solar oven. Smaller dark pots are required when the Sport is used in this position. When the sun is more overhead, as in the summer time, use the Sport on its floor, placing the lid at a 30-degree angle.