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Solar eating: barbequeing under the sun

July 6, 2010

After a short break, SolarUK blogging can resume normal service, with the fresh bounce that comes from a holiday in southern Burgundy: the sun shone every day, the food was as good as the weather and – in a effort at French language improvement – a magazine called ‘Cuisine Bio’ was purchased. 

The editorial at the front of this publication examines mankind’s energy use, and divides energy sources into two groups: those that are associated with the sun, and those that aren’t.  Fossil fuels come into the first category, because they are based on carbon – ‘forêts pétrifiées’, we are told, which reminds us that coal is formed from plants which were once alive and enjoying the sunshine.   Wave power is governed by winds, which as consequences of temperature fluctuations are ultimately directed by the sun.  Unlike tidal power, however, which is all down to the moon.

As for using the sun directly, there is of course ‘le photovoltaique’ and ‘le solaire thermique’.

So this leads us past the recipes, which will require rather more effort on the part of the cook than a few sausages and onions in baps, to the feature on solar cooking.  Two appliances are put to the test: a solar-powered barbeque and a similarly-powered oven.   The former has a ‘collector’ that looks a little like a large wok.  It is angled towards the sun, and on a platform in the middle of it a frying pan is placed.  The overall verdict is favourable.  The barbie generates more than enough heat, and can be used in places where direct flames aren’t permitted.  As for the solar oven, it is more compact, but not very ‘esthétique’.  Overall, however, it seems to satisfy the reviewer.

For those who already have a catapult and a treehouse and are looking for another Sunday afternoon project, there are instructions for making your own hybrid cooker/barbeque using cardboard and foil.

These ‘throwaway’ barbeques might not be the greenest option (many local authorities won’t recycle aluminium foil), even if no gas or chemical-filled firelighters are used.  A home-made version built with a few bricks and fuelled by UK-produced charcoal, on the other hand, should be the perfect summer setup for the eco-minded alfresco diner.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet permalink
    August 12, 2010 11:53 am

    Have only just found this blog. Surely it wuld take hours for a solar based barbecue to heat to the level required to cook anything at all. Sounds a nice idea but cannot see it catching on. It might be raining by the time you got the pan to the right heat. This idea might work in other hotter countries but I do not think Britain is the right venue


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