How To Be Prepared To Cook Emergency Meals

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Today’s post is to help people be prepared to cook emergency meals outside. If and when we have a power outage, and we will, we need to be able to cook emergency meals. Some of you may have purchased packages of food where you just add tepid or boiling water. Well, you will need a way to boil that water. I’m going to give you the choices I recommend because I have used all of these and have them stored ready to cook food for my family. Here’s the deal, you need fuel as well, so I will suggest some fuel options for you to use with your cooking devices.

I have taught classes for several years on how to use the following cooking devices. I will say this, I have cooked inside buildings (for classes) and my own home with a butane stove. I recently saw a box at a store containing a butane stove that stated: “designed to cook outside.” So, I will leave the decision to you whether you feel safe using one inside your home. I gave all four daughters a butane stove with butane canisters. Here’s the deal, you would never cook for several hours on a butane stove, it’s designed to boil water, make coffee, heat up a meal, make some hot chocolate or warm up a can of beans in a pan. Here’s my homemade hot chocolate post: Linda’s Hot Chocolate

Cook Emergency Meals

Butane Stove

Butane Stove

Pro: Inexpensive, uses very little fuel to boil water and you can cook emergency meals

Con: It can only hold a small pan or pot

Fuel: Uses butane fuel, once the fuel is gone it cannot be used with any other fuel Butane Canisters

Kelly Kettle

Here is my post on how to use a Kelly Kettle

Pro: Uses pine cones, leaves or dry twigs, basically free fuel

Con: You may say it’s a little pricey, but you can gather free fuel, in most cases, so for me, it is not pricey

Fuel: Pine cones, leaves or dry twigs

Dutch Oven

I prefer a 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven or smaller because of weight. I can’t handle the 8-quart size, but I know they are popular. I also like to buy the Dutch ovens with the lids with a lip like this one: Dutch Oven because you can stack them when cooking meals.

Pro: They will last forever if treated and stored properly, fairly inexpensive, you can cook emergency meals in these

Con: They will rust if not properly stored and cleaned (but you should be able to salvage any cast iron pot, within reason)

Fuel: Fire pit, wood stove if it has a cooking shelf, directly on charcoal briquettes, or lump charcoal or wood

Lodge Cast Iron gave me permission to print this cooking sheet for Dutch Ovens: Dutch Oven Chart

Volcano Stove

Here’s a post on how to use Volcano Stove: Volcano Stove Pictures by Linda

Pro: You can boil water, cook on a griddle, you can also cook emergency meals in one of these with a tent, if desired, you can use a medium size cast iron pot on this stove

Con: Fairly expensive but it uses three different fuels, wood, charcoal briquettes, propane (make sure you have the right adaptor for the small tanks of propane and/or the larger propane tanks

Camp Chef Stove/Oven Combo

This is a great one because I can bake a casserole or bread in the oven, if I remove one shelf for the bread, anyway. Camp Chef

Pro: You can bake, fry, boil, and make just about any meal on the top of the stove or inside the oven

Con: Uses propane, once the propane is gone you cannot use this stove with other fuels

Fuel: Propane only, make sure you have both adaptors for the large propane tanks or the small canisters

Camp Chef Two-Burner Stove

I love this one because you can cook with fairly large pans. I picture boiling water for spaghetti with this baby when we have a grid down in our neighborhood. Camp Chef two-burner stove

Pro: Extremely sturdy, and somewhat expensive but uses fairly large pans to cook emergency meals

Con: When you run out of propane this unit will not work, fairly expensive

Fuel: Propane only

Barbecue

I really don’t want to talk about the gas barbecues since they will waste so much fuel just to boil water. But it is an option.

Pro: Just about everyone has a gas barbecue

Con: Once you run out of fuel, the barbecue is less attractive for use, although briquettes can be used, just not as efficient for general use

Fuel: Propane and briquettes, unless you have a pellet one, but once the fuel is gone you’re out of luck

Fire Pit

I bought two different fire pits, one from Amazon and one from Lehman’s. Lehman’s had a great sale one and I had to wait to have it crafted and shipped, but it is so worth the wait.

Cook Emergency Meals

Pro: You can buy different sizes in so many different materials, I opted for a copper one and a steel one. You can build one fairly inexpensive with bricks and adding gravel inside the pit

Con: Expensive if you buy one premade

Fuel: Depending on the material, you can use wood, charcoal briquettes, and lump charcoal

Sun Oven

I actually have two Sun Ovens, I was given one for a review and then I purchased a second one because I love them so much. I live in Southern Utah so sunshine is pretty consistent in our area. Sun Oven 

Pro: Sunshine, if available, is free to cook emergency meals

Con: Fairly expensive and I do not recommend these if you have very little sunshine in your area

Fuel: Sunshine

I hope this post today gets you excited to be prepared to cook emergency meals when you need to after a disaster. Please practice now with any cooking device you may have purchased. Please get them out of the box and learn how to use them if you haven’t already. Practice cooking with them today before an unforeseen emergency hits your neighborhood. May God bless you for being prepared.

My Book: “Prepare Your Family for Survival” by Linda Loosli

Copyright Images:

Firepit: AdobeStock_11610595 by Acik

Dutch Oven: AdobeStock_57870160 by svetlankahappy

The post How To Be Prepared To Cook Emergency Meals appeared first on Food Storage Moms.

Prepper to Prepper: How to Set Up An Emergency Kitchen

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Prepper to Prepper How to Set Up an Emergency Kitchen via The Survival Mom

With all of the disasters that have happened lately, many families have been without electricity, and experiencing the joys of cooking and serving meals to their families in spite of the challenges. Others have electricity but not a full kitchen to work in. Their homes may be safe enough to live in, but without electricity, they can’t use some of the appliances in the kitchen. I asked my Facebook readers to share their experiences and advice about setting up an emergency kitchen. As usual, never fail to impress.

By the way, you are invited to join my Facebook page and participate in discussions just like this one. Click here to Like and join!

From Kacie:
I just moved into a new home that was being remodeled so we didn’t have any appliances. I used my instant pot several times a week and the outdoor grill the rest of the time.

TIP: The Instant Pot is a lifesaver, and not just for emergency kitchens. Read more about it here.

From Bethany:
I live in Florida and this scenario happens about once a year where we live. We lose power for about a week. So, we have it kind of down to a science on how to survive without power during this time. We tend to eat things that don’t need refrigeration or we use a propane camping stove or cook over an open fire. We can cook fried spam and eggs for breakfast, or the kids can eat pop tarts. For lunch it’s mostly peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and for dinner, I try to go all out and cook on the stove with a meat, instant rice, or another quick starch to cook, along with canned veggies. Or we can do hotdogs and chips one night. You just have to adjust. It’s not fun and we are always happy when the power comes back.

From Shane:
I was homeless for a year. I used a Coleman 2-burner stove. I wanted a rocket stove but couldn’t afford one, and had no secure place to have it delivered. Now I have 2 camp stoves, a folding Sterno, and a rocket stove is on my wish list. After a flood subsides there’s a LOT of dead wood around. Same for high winds; at the least, it knocks the deadwood to the ground, which then becomes free firewood. I know this means cooking outdoors because for safety reasons, you should never cook over an open fire in an enclosed place.

Some propane stoves are safe to use indoors, but double check the label to make sure. And, you can build your own rocket stove for almost free following these instructions.

From Kandy:
I think this scenario is why it is important to have canned goods and freeze-dried or dehydrated foods in storage. I have probably a 6-month supply of long-term food storage, most of it freeze dried. You can eat it right out of the can, if necessary. I’ve been able to make a yummy chicken salad with freeze-dried chicken, celery, and onions. No cooking involved. Fruits taste like candy right out of the can, they are so sweet, but nothing is added to them. It is 100% fruit that has been freeze dried.

I also think a Sun Oven is a good investment if you have no electricity and can access the yard. Also, if you can cook outside, just having a grill could be a lifesaver. But the most likely scenario with these extreme natural disasters is no electricity for days or weeks. So, having the ready to eat food on hand is the top priority.

TIP- Look into the numerous reasons why freeze dried foods should be part of your food storage, and check out Lisa’s favorite brand of storage food, Thrive Life.

From Jacqueline:
I live in Florida, but one summer I served as a missionary in Eastern Europe and loved how almost everyone there has an outside “summer kitchen”! Here at home, I would make a workstation around the grill with an outdoor table/countertop and maybe a bin for dirty dishes or for washing dishes. It’s close to rainwater collection, trash, and compost, which is a plus. Also, I could easily throw water on surfaces to wash them down. I could get my messy on!

From Elizabeth:
Cook like you are camping! We’ve been through a lot and any time something crazy happens and we are required to function without a full-service kitchen, we focus on the basics. Propane camp stove, candle or oil lamps, Dutch oven (read this for getting started using a Dutch oven), homemade rocket, or solo stove made from tin cans. Get creative. Heat up items IN THE CAN — unless it has the plastic lining. One-dish meals make things easier, too. Ask the kids to help! Their young minds are so ingenious!

TIP: For a fun and easy grilled cheese sandwich you cook over a campfire, read this.

From Rachel:
My house flooded last year, and after the first 2 months staying with family, we moved back in and lived in the gutted house while we rebuilt. My cooking station was a folding table with a microwave, electric burner, a pot and a skillet with a few cooking tools, and a few basic spices, plus a plastic box to store the dishes/spices in during the day. A basic utility sink with the faucet was $120, which we needed since the cabinets were all out. I had a 5-gallon bucket full of lentils, but they were not a good emergency food in this situation as they require too long of a cooking time to mess with on the little burner where you have to hold the pot steady. Canned goods, pronto pasta, and Spam made up a lot of our meals. We got folding chairs to sit in and used paper goods.

From Penny:
We had pipes burst and flood half the house once. I had no kitchen for a few months while the work crew gutted and fixed everything. I used my gas grill, toaster oven, an electric wok, and the microwave. I have since obtained butane burners, a camp stove, and even a crock pot that runs on small propane tanks.

From Vickie:
We had no power for 3 weeks after Hurricane Wilma. We used our camping stove and the side burner of our grill. /We had stocked up on plenty of fuel for both. I also used my flat griddle and college-sized microwave for lots of things because I had a generator.

From TJ:
I always have a grill with a side burner and extra propane tanks for just this reason. I also have extra cinder blocks for building a rocket stove, just in case we run out of propane. Lots of home canned goods to choose from.

TIP- This is just a quick set of directions for a rocket stove you can put together in less than five minutes. It works and gives you one more option for off-grid cooking.

From Heather:
I have a toaster oven/griddle/coffee maker combo, a George Forman grill, and a camping stove that I might use in that situation. I would probably only cook one real meal a day and do simple breakfasts and lunches. Even plain sandwiches taste better when popped in the toaster oven or Forman.

From Patti:
On an open fire, except for rainy days on a Sterno. I’ve had to do this many times. it’s like a very long camping trip. I rather enjoyed it. But I’m weird like that.

From Yvette:
A solar oven is a must have for us, I made mine from very cheap materials. Works great.

This website has instructions for making a very good solar oven for less than $20.

From Mary:
I have 7 solar cookers, butane burners, thermal cookers, wonder bag, backpacking stoves, wood rocket stoves, a wood stove in the garage, grills, a fire ring with grate.

TIP- Are so many ways to cook yummy meals outdoors. Eating cold ravioli or tuna out of the can gets really old, really fast. If you have never used a solar oven, now is the chance to learn. Eating cold ravioli or tuna out of the can gets really old, really fast. If you want to try some new recipes in your solar oven, look no further- 10 Great Collapse-Day Recipes for the Solar Cooker

Miscellaneous tips:

  • You may not have a whole lot of storage room, so plan on making at least 2 shopping trips per week. If you’re living in a small space, you’ll be needing every nook and cranny so it’s probably best to not have too much food at any one time.
  • A power outage might also mean you don’t have a working refrigerator. In that case, only buy small containers of foods that need to be kept cold (such as mayonnaise) and use a heavy duty ice chest. Many foods that we normally keep in the fridge do not actually require refrigeration, such as eggs and butter.
  • Be willing to ask for help from friends, neighbors, co-workers, your church, etc. People around you are wondering how they can help and often don’t know exactly what to do.
  • Use disposable utensils, drinking cups, plates, paper towels, etc. to cut down on dish washing.

Prepper to Prepper How to Set Up an Emergency Kitchen via The Survival Mom

Getting Started With Solar Cooking

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How long can you go without craving a hot, homemade meal, if you have been eating only cold rations and snacks?  If you’ve ever been without power for more than just a couple of days, eating cold ravioli or tuna out of the can gets really old, really fast. Most survival minded people realize, better than most, that it doesn’t take much to disrupt the flow of electricity we depend on for cooking. A natural disaster or freak weather event can turn the most modern home into a survivalist camp within a few hours. Electricity can also be interrupted by man-made crises, such as civil unrest, terrorism, or an EMP, making that hot meal a rare treat.

A popular slogan among survivalists and preppers is, “Always have a back-up to your back-up.”  When it comes to cooking, what is your back-up to your back-up? Do you have more than one way of cooking a hot meal when the power is down?

Getting Started With Solar Cooking via The Survival Mom

One simple addition to your emergency preparedness is a solar oven. It’s a great way to get started cooking off the grid, and is something everyone, not just preppers, should have on hand.

As long as the sun is shining and the sky is relatively clear, a solar oven can serve up a delicious pot of rice and beans and brownies for dessert without requiring any fuel. In fact, its dependence on the sun as its only source of fuel, is the reason every home should have a solar cooker. Solar cooking is an unbeatable back-up for making sure there’s a hot meal on the table three times a day. It’s also a sure-fire way to have hot water on hand for sanitation purposes and to purify water.

There Is Something New Under The Sun

Solar cooking and using the sun to preserve food has been around for hundreds of years, but only in modern times has the use of solar cookers become widespread both in the survival community and among communities around the world with unreliable electrical power. Its advantages are obvious.


9 Reasons why your home should have a solar cooker
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  • There is no need to store additional fuel.
  • Sunshine is free, unlike propane, butane, gas, and other fuels.
  • It’s possible to store several months’ worth of food, but storing all the fuel you might need isn’t as easy.
  • Once paid for, or built, if you’re the DIY type, there are no other expenses involved and maintenance is simple.
  • There are no dangerous fumes or safety issues to worry about.
  • A solar cooker can be used for every type of cooking, except frying.
  • Food never burns in a solar cooker.
  • During hot, summer months, the use of a solar cooker helps keep the kitchen, and the cook cool.
  • Over time and with frequent use, the use of a solar oven will save money on the electric bill.

A Solar Cooker For Every Home

A solar cooker is a must-have as a back-up method for cooking food. It is the single most self-reliant way to cook food and heat water, and has the additional advantage of being a DIY project if there’s a handyman (or woman) in the family.

Commercially produced solar cookers, such as the All-American Sun Oven, are perfect for the prepper who is too busy for even one more DIY project. The Solavore is another reliable brand that has been reviewed here. Depending on the brand you choose, these stoves have consistent quality construction, are designed to reach temperatures for the quickest possible cooking results, and have features for enhanced usability, such as interior thermometers, large reflecting panels (optional on the Solavore), and a weather resistant design.

However, some of these ovens carry a price tag of $300 or more and can be large and bulky. In a Get-Out-Of-Dodge scenario, there might not be room for my Sun Oven in the back of our Tahoe, and if I ever had to cook for more than my family of four, it might be too small. That’s one of the limitations of a store-bought solar cooker. You’re stuck with a standard size that may be too small, and your budget may not allow for a second cooker.

On the other hand, a DIY solar cooker can be customized to your specific needs. One friend used a large ice chest on wheels for her solar oven. She could wheel it to any location in the backyard and she chose a size that could accommodate as many as four baking dishes. Another ingenious DIY plan that can be found on the internet uses a 5 gallon bucket and a reflective sunshade. Total cost?  Not much more than ten bucks, if that. The advantage of many DIY solar cookers is that they can be dismantled for convenient transport, and all of them require materials that are already in most garages. Plans for homemade solar cookers can be found on dozens of websites and demonstration videos abound on YouTube.

The DIY solar cooker comes with a few disadvantages. If the design doesn’t maximize the amount of sunlight available, you may end up with nothing more than a hot silver box sitting out in your yard. I recommend testing and tweaking any DIY design until it consistently reaches 350 degrees or more. Reliable temperatures will help you plan mealtimes and insure that foods reach temperatures that will deter any bacterial growth. Another issue with the DIY cooker is its durability. If a slight breeze knocks over your cooker and pot of beans, you’ll know you need to fine-tune the design for added stability.

Getting Started With Solar Cooking

Regardless of which solar cooker you settle on, some foods are easiest for getting started.  Be sure to keep a log of foods you cook, time of day you begin cooking, and the length of cooking time required. This log will be a huge help to you as you branch out and begin cooking a wider variety of foods.

  • Hard boiled eggs. Place eggs on a dark colored towel or inside a dark pot inside your cooker.  After 20 minutes, check one egg for doneness. Solar cooked hard boiled eggs will be softer than those cooked in a pot of boiling water.
  • Rice is either cooked or it’s not. It’s probably the easiest food to experiment with when you’re new to solar cooking. Combine rice and water in a covered pot. Check for doneness after 25 minutes. A package of Rice-a-Roni works just as well for your experimentation.
  • Yes, brownies! Mix up a batch of your favorite store-bought or homemade recipe, pour it into a dark, greased pan and place it in your solar cooker. Use the baking times recommended by your recipe, test for doneness, and leave in for additional minutes if required. I’ve found that solar-baked brownies are usually finished in the same amount of time as oven-baked.
  • Heat water in your solar cooker to pasteurize it. Check the temperature of water after 30 minutes. At 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius), all germs, viruses, and parasites are killed. This information, along with your solar cooker, could be one more way to insure safe drinking water in an emergency and provide sterilized water for medical and first aid purposes.

Like any new skill, the only way to learn how to cook with a solar oven is to just do it. For most dishes, allow at least an extra 30 minutes to your cooking time.

Top Ten Tips For Solar Cooking

  1. Solar cooking isn’t an exact science. It requires a bit of trial and at least a few errors to determine the correct cooking time for any food.
  2. Always use dark pots and pans with any solar cooker. These basic and inexpensive Granite Ware pots work very well. If you must use a light colored or shiny baking dish, cover it with a dark colored hand towel.
  3. Thin metal baking dishes work best in a solar cooker. They will heat up more quickly and lessen the amount of cooking time needed. Again, Granite Ware is a good example of these.
  4. A thermometer is a must-have for a solar cooker.
  5. Allow your solar cooker to pre-heat for 15-20 minutes. Pre-heating will shorten the cooking time a bit.  Just be aware that the interior of your cooker will be hot, so be sure to use pot-holders.
  6. Always use a baking dish with a lid for all your solar cooking. The lid retains important heat and moisture. There’s no need for a lid if you’re baking. Pies, brownies, cookies, cakes, and bread won’t require a lid.
  7. If you’re cooking meat, make sure the interior of the oven reaches at least 180 degrees. Again, a thermometer is a must to insure food safety and predictable cooking times. This thermometer is small and inexpensive.
  8. Use the ‘slow-cooker’ method when you’ll be gone all day. Place the solar oven so that it faces directly south. Pop in your baking dish, close the lid, and by dinner time, you’ll have a hot, delicious meal waiting for you.
  9. Moisture will likely collect inside the cooker during the cooking process. Wipe the inside dry before storing it.
  10. Turn your solar cooker into a food dehydrator by propping open the oven door by a half inch or so. This allows moisture to escape while the interior of the cooker retains heat.

If you’re new to solar cooking, prepare to be amazed.  There’s nothing quite like placing a baking dish in a box out in the sun and coming back later to a fully cooked and delicious meal.  A prolonged power outage doesn’t mean the end to hot, nutritious meals when you have a solar cooker as a back-up.

 

Getting Started With Solar Cooking via The Survival Mom

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Stealth Cooking When the SHTF!

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The sun was starting to set and the air became cooler as Nick continued pushing himself forward step by step.  He lost track of the days, but he knew that it had been more than he wanted to count since the grid went down and he was left stranded at the airport 670 miles from home.

He recalled how he was standing at the United Airlines ticket counter to check-in when the lights went out.  Emergency lights kicked on, but the light from the big windows helped tremendously.  At first, the terminal personnel kept people calm, brought out snacks and blankets and assured everyone that the electricity would come back on in the terminal and their flights would resume.

Half-way through the next day, Nick observed the airline and terminal workers talking really fast and acting suspiciously.  Nick walked over to an older terminal employee and asked what was going on.  The employee was staring off into space and Nick had to ask him twice.  “Hey, buddy.  Are you OK?” he asked.

Without looking at him, the employee said, “It’s the apocalypse.  The lights are off everywhere.”

“What do you mean everywhere,” Nick said.

“All over the US,” the employee replied.

“What? How? Is it coming back on?” Nick was starting to get a little frazzled.

The employee finally turned to him, “I don’t know much. One of the guys in the tower has a HAM radio.  He tied it into one of the antennas and is getting reports from all over.  It started on the West Coast and cascaded towards the East really quickly.  Government channels are asking HAM operators to tell people to stay calm,” he said.

“That means that it is bad,” Nick whispered to himself.  “Yeah, real bad,” the employee responded in a similar whisper.

As Nick tried to take in this new information, he noticed that the airline employees started to thin out.  Where once there were many employees trying to meet the needs of passengers, now there were only a few handfuls.  “They know the lights aren’t coming back on and they are leaving to go home,” he thought to himself.  “I need to get home too! I don’t even know how far away from home I am or in which direction I really need to travel.”

He opened up his backpack, removed some business files and grabbed some snacks and water bottles that were still left over from the snacks provided by the terminal.  He turned to the older employee that had provided the information before and asked if he was going to leave the terminal.  “I’m waiting for my grandson to pick me up, if he ever comes,” he said.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed one of the United Airlines ticket counter employees emerge from the backroom with her purse.  He rushed over to her and asked her if she was leaving.  She tried to avoid him, but he was persistent.

“Look, I need to get home to my kids,” she said.  “I understand me too.  Can I get a ride with you as far as you’re going?  I don’t even know where I am,” he said.  “I don’t think so,” the woman responded with a lowered voice.  “Look, I just need a lift as far as you are going.  I won’t be any trouble.  But if you don’t let me go, I’ll make a big scene here,” he replied.  “Fine, come on. But you better not give me any trouble.  I have mace,” she said.

Jennifer didn’t say much in the car.  She looked very worried.

Nick noticed that although the lights were out, people were still driving their vehicles. “I guess people will drive to they run out of gas,” he thought to himself.

Jennifer exited the freeway and stopped at a convenience store.  “Look, I held up my end of the bargain, now please get out without giving me any trouble,” she asked.  Nick grabbed his backpack, looked her in the eye and said, “thank you.”  Jennifer looked back sheepishly and responded, “good luck getting back home.”

From where he stood, Nick could see a truck stop on the other side of the freeway.  He walked over there and noticed a big rig that was idling with the driver deep in thought as he studied a map.

Nick jumped up on the rig and asked the driver where he was going and if he could get a lift.  He didn’t mean to, but when he did that, he scared the driver and made him throw the map in the air. “I apologize for startling you,” Nick said.  “I’m just trying to get home to my family.”

The driver seemed to look him over for a few moments and reasoned that he wasn’t a threat. He then said, “Go ahead and get in.  It will be safer with two of us traveling.  I’m trying to get home to my family too. My name is Ed.  What is your name,” he asked.  “My name is Nick,” he responded.

Nick listened as Ed recounted what he knew from truck drivers sharing information over the CB radio.  Many drivers were abandoning their routes and heading back home.  Not knowing if diesel would be available, they didn’t want to be left stranded somewhere.

Ed decided to take some back roads as a shortcut.  After taking a curve in the road, he was forced to come to an immediate stop as a trailer was blocking the whole road.  “What the heck is this,” Ed asked out loud.  Just then, four individuals came out from the surrounding trees. Two had military looking rifles and two held up pistols.

One of the men with a pistol jumped up on the driver’s side and pointed the pistol at Ed’s head. He said through the window, “We don’t want to hurt you.  We just need your diesel.  We’re trying to get home to our families.”

“We are trying to get to our families too,” Ed responded.  “Why don’t you guys jump in and we can help each other out.”

The man with the pistol became agitated, “I don’t think so.  Get out now or I’ll start shooting.”

Ed looked at Nick.  “I guess we don’t have a choice. Those rifles will go right through this cab,” he said.

Ed opened the door and started getting out.  Nick grabbed his backpack and the map that was on the dashboard while the other man with the pistol opened his door for him.

One man with a pistol held them on the side of the road while the others moved the trailer. They then got in the truck and started down the road.

“I’m sorry about your truck Ed,” said Nick.  “If people are that desperate now, society has the potential for really going downhill fast,” Ed replied.

They started walking.

The next day, Ed complained about not feeling well.  They stopped under the shade of a tree to rest.  Nick gave him a drink from a water bottle that he had in his backpack.  But Ed just threw it up.  A few minutes later he complained about a pain in his left arm.  He started grabbing his chest. He started breathing heavy. He reached out for Nick’s hand and then collapsed.

“Ed! Ed!,” Nick yelled.  Ed was unresponsive.  In fact, it looked like he wasn’t breathing.  Nick took his pulse.  There wasn’t a heartbeat.  Nick laid Ed down flat and started CPR. He continued for what seemed to be an eternity, with no response from Ed’s body. Nick was fatigued.  Very fatigued.

Nick looked around.  What was he going to do with Ed’s body?  He was out in the middle of nowhere.  He hadn’t seen anyone on this back road in a day and he had nothing to dig with.  There weren’t even any rocks that he could pile over his body.

Nick was tired, frustrated, sad and at his wits end.  He wanted to close his eyes and wake up from the nightmare.  He decided to close his eyes for a few minutes.  He woke up hours later. Coming out of his deep sleep, he jumped when he saw Ed’s body laying next to him. In the heat, the body was already showing signs of decomposition.

Nick got up quickly and started walking again.  

That was all days ago.

Now, he was really tired.  His feet ached.  He was thirsty and the hunger pains in his stomach were something he had never experienced.

He was about to stop and rest when the smell of something wonderful reached his nostrils.  “What is that smell,” he thought to himself.  “It smells like a BBQ!” His eyes widened as he started to look around to see if he could pinpoint where the smell was coming from.

Tired, desperate and hungry, Nick was going to eat no matter what or who stood in his way!

Is It Just Fiction?

Forgive me.  I don’t want to be a fear monger.  But I do want to try and portray the human condition when men become desperate and hungry.

One facet of surviving the SHTF is keeping a low profile and maintaining OPSEC, including cooking.  But it’s hard to cook and not give off the aroma of what you’re cooking.

One way around this is to use a solar oven.

There are so many advantages to a solar oven.  Did you know you can’t burn food?  Did you know that you could cook almost anything in a solar oven? Did you know that you could set the solar oven to cook and then leave it, accomplishing other chores and jobs around your home?

And the only disadvantage of the solar oven is that you need the sun!

The solar oven will even work in Winter…as long as you have the sun!

But a solar oven can do so much more!

The good news is that there is some really good education on what solar ovens can do.

I’m proud to partner with Sun Oven to bring an educational class to you free of charge.  In this class you will learn:

  • 13 ways the sun can be used year around to give you the peace of mind of knowing you are better prepared for an emergency.
  • The fundamentals of how to reap the maximum benefit of this amazing free resource.
  • How to use the sun to hard boil freshly laid eggs and make them easy to peel.
  • Why food cooked with the sun does not burn or dry out.
  • Ways to dry herbs that increase the nutrients without breaking down the essential oils and vitamins.
  • Ways to use a SUN OVEN that go way beyond just cooking, like pasteurizing water, dehydrating, and sterilizing potting soil.

Date: Tuesday, July 18th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, (8 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. MDT / 5 p.m. PDT
Duration: 60 minutes plus live Q&A
Cost: There is no cost for the class but advance registration is required.

To register for the class – CLICK HERE.

I’ll be in the class too!  I look forward to seeing you there!

 

Peace,
Todd

 

Harvest Recipes With the Solavore Sport Oven — Giveaway!

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harvest-recipes

Now that my garden is finishing up for the year, I’m busy cooking  wonderful fall recipes using my home grown squash. For something a little different, I decided to try spaghetti squash in my Solavore Sport Oven. This month during National Preparedness Month, Solavore is offering a discount of $40 when the Solavore Oven and reflectors are purchased together. To get this discount, be sure to use coupon code preparedmom! (More details at this bottom of this recipe review.)

I preheated the Solavore for a half hour while I was preparing the spaghetti squash. During just a half hour or so, the oven had already heated to 270 degrees on a day that was mostly sunny and a bit breezy.

photo 2Inside myhouse, I sliced my spaghetti squash in half and removed the seeds. (I save all the seeds for the chickens). I rubbed the squash with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkled some oregano, garlic salt, onion powder, and my own homegrown, dried basil. I sprinkled both halves with a little salt and pepper and then put the in a baking dish, covered with 2 round black lids.

I had some errands to run and came home 3 hours later. The squash was cooked all the way through and the smell was intoxicating! I drained the extra juice that pooled in the middle of the squash halves. Then I filled the cavities with a store bought marinara sauce, topped each half with 4 ounces of grated mozerella cheese, and popped them back into the Solavore. An hour later the sauce was hot, the cheeese was melted, and it was ready to eat. The cheese melted so nicely, that it looks like it came out of a conventional oven. A nice feature of the Solavore is that food is always kept moist. Nothing gets dried out. This was a mouth-watering meal.

Baking acorn squash in the Solavore

My next garden harvest dish was acorn squash. I also had a new variety of acorn squash from my garden called “Heart of Gold“. I wanted to compare the two varieties, so I cooked both in the Solavore.

squashI split both the squashes, and removed the seeds. Then I rubbed butter inside and on the exposed areas of the flesh. I put about 1/3 cup of brown sugar in each half, and topped with a tablespoon of butter. I put the squash havles in the Solavore, and let them cook for a few hours.

I was concerned when the sky clouded up and the day became  mostly cloudy, and I wondered if the squash would cook through completely. I figured that I would just let it cook all day and hope for the best.  In the meantime, I picked 90 pounds of grapes at my Mom’s for winemaking.

photo 3Well, my squash did cook completely through, but in all my preparations, I forgot that squash makes a lot of water. They were overflowing with butter and brown sugar everywhere. I should have let them cook first, drain the excess  juice, and then add the brown sugar and butter toward the end of the baking time. In spite of this, it was very good, and I shared it with my Mom and sister.

photo 4The acorn squash had a little more intense flavor, while the Heart of Gold was creamier and milder. I think next time I may add some raisins to the middle for a little more flavor. I was also glad these squash have great health benefits. They offer plenty of fiber, the soluble type, which is good for regulating blood sugar and cholesterol. There’s folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and Beta Carotene, too! I always say “Food is Medicine”.

Cornish game hens

My last dish was going to be wild game, but right now I’d be limited to squirrels, and I’m out of 410 shot. So, I improvised and decided to make Cornish game hens with wild long grain rice. I decided to pretend it was grouse or quail!

cornish game hensI basted  the birds with melted butter, then added onion and garlic powder, and topped with paprika. I popped the hens and some rice into my baking dishes, the ones that came with my Solavore, then into the Solavore, put the whole thing in my car, and drove to our town’s annual Labor Day parade.  I set up the Solavore next to my lawn chair along the parade route. I had quite a few people ask me what is that thing??

I did take time to explain, and people genuinely seemed interested. After 2 hours, the rice was done, but the Cornish hens were not. By this time, it was time to head home, so I packed it up and set up the Solavore on my deck. Then, the day became cloudy and was only partly sunny from that point on. So, once more, I just let it cook, nice and slow. The Solavore still managed to maintain a temperature of 230 degrees, which is hot enough to get the job done.

Later that afternoon, everything was done and I could smell baked chicken wafting from the unit. All the juices from the hens made a delicious gravy. The best part was that since it was 87 degrees out, I didn’t have to heat up my kitchen to have a great meal!

So, once again, I’m impressed with the Solavore Sport Oven, and how easy it is to take anywhere. I had no problem loading or unloading the unit from my Jeep. It’s never hot to the touch on the outside, so you won’t ever burn yourself. I think this unit would be invaluable if our power grid went down due our aging infrastructure, terrorism, or an EMP attack. This is one of the best proactive ways of helping your family should disaster strike.

More about the Solavore discount

Get both the Solavore Sports Oven and the reflectors for $229 and save $40 over the regular price of $269. In addition, you’ll receive:
  • Two 10-inch pots that fit side by side in the oven. This allows you to cook 2 different dishes at the same time.
  • A thermometer to track the temperature of the oven.
  • A Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). This ingenious tool lets you know when water has reached the temperature of pasteurization, making it safe to drink.

Be sure to use preparedmom to get this discount when you place your order here. This discount runs through the end of the month.

Now for the giveaway!

This giveaway begins on September 9, and ends at midnight on September 15. The winner will be selected at random and notified via email by September 24. The winner must respond to this email within 72 hours or the prize may be forfeited and a new winner selected. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Annual Solar Cook-Off

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The Annual Solar Cook-OffEvery year about this time, a group of us get togeather for a solar cook-off. We all bring our solar ovens to someplace like a local park, along with any other means of alternate cooking we feel like. Most of the day is then spent cooking and experimenting with various ideas. At the end of the day we have a big meal and get to evaluate how each oven performed.

solar cook off

The stoves that show up include both commercial and homemade ones. Two that have been successful for my family are the Solavore (read the review here) and the well-known Sun Oven.

Some of the inexpensive homemade solar ovens work quite well, especially the large parabolic one. You can use it like a range top and even fry on it. Here’s a sampling of some of the very creative ways you can use the sun to cook food.

solar cook off

The parabolic reflector works great, but is on the large size. You can cook anything on it you can cook on a stove top and just about as fast.

solar cook off

The All American Sun Oven cooking a roast

The all American Sun Oven is quite popular and there are always several of them present.  In the picture above you can see one cooking a roast.

solar cook off

The blackened jars contained Cornish game hens. They came out beautifully cooked. You will notice that he puts a clear plastic box over the blackened jars

solar cook off

He paints the jars black, but leaves a strip of clear glass on one side so that he can check the food without opening the lid.

The above refector solar oven is used all the time and the friend that owns it cooks most of his meals on it.

solar cook off

Just set the blacken jar on the dashboard with a reflector behind it and point the vehicle at the sun.

beautifully

Using charcoal briquets in a Coleman oven to cook corn bread. The two #10 cans have small roasts in them cooking on charcoal.

The blackened jar in the truck windshield with the reflector behind it works well.

solar cook off

Here you can see some of the food that we cooked

solar cook off

This friend used a glass tube he purchased on Amazon to make his own solar oven. The tube was about 6 inches in diameter and he cooked two roasts in it.

Solar and alternate cooking is fun and it made for a very enjoyable day with friends.

solar cook off

Here is a plate of food. Everything was very good and easy to fix

But by the end of the day we always have learned something new. This type of cooking has a learning curve, practice now before you need to. You could also pick up a copy of Cooking With Sunshine as a complete guide.

The Solar Cookers International Network is a treasure trove of just about everything you need to know about using the sun to cook food.

Here are a few links to DIY solar ovens/cookers. If you try one of these, let me know how it worked out for you.

Howard

 

The post The Annual Solar Cook-Off appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Solavore Sport Solar Oven Review: Pasteurizing Water and Baking

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Giveaway at the bottom of this post! Keep reading!

It’s summer and to celebrate the sunshine, Solavore sent me their Solavore Sport solar oven to test out.  Having a powerless cooking method is important if there is an emergency and you aren’t able to use your normal stove or oven.  It is also nice in the summer to be able to cook without heating up your house running your oven!  The Solavore Sport is a slick little solar oven that is easy to use and cooks some delicious food.

About the Solavore Sport

The Solavore Sport comes in three pieces.  The base is large enough to hold a standard 9×13 pan with some room left over.  The lid, which is an insulated clear plastic piece, snaps onto the base.  And the optional reflectors install easily in a groove on the lid and hook down.  The reflectors are recommended for use if you are cooking in spring, fall, or at high altitudes to increase the heat of the oven, but are not necessary if you are cooking in the middle of summer on a sunny day.

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

From the Solavore website:

Features:

  • Housing is made from rugged nylon plastic for weatherability and durability. No BPA’s.
  • It’s tough but light, only 9 pounds.
  • Insulation is one inch closed-cell foam, does not absorb moisture.
  • The lid’s double layer creates dead air space for enhanced insulation.
  • The oven holds two 10-inch pots (included) or your favorite lasagna pan!
  • The floor dimension of the oven is 9 1/4 inches x 17 1/2 inches- yes, you can bake cookies!
  • All oven components are made in the USA.
  • Uses no fossil fuel – only the free energy of the sun.

The Solavore Sport also comes with a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oven, two black pots that fit side by side in the oven, a getting started guide, and a WAPI (WAter Pasteurization Indicator).

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

Pasteurizing water

I started testing the oven with a simple project, pasteurizing water using one of the included pots and the WAPI.

In order for water to be safe to drink, it needs to be heated to 149 degrees F.  The WAPI is a small tube filled with heat sensitive wax that melts at 150 F.  Threaded on a thin wire, this WAPI can be suspended, wax side up, in the water that is being pasteurized and will indicate, by the wax melting and falling to the bottom of the tube, when the water has reached a high enough temperature to be safe to drink.  It is such a simple tool, but extremely valuable for conserving fuel and keeping you safe from water borne pathogens in an emergency.

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

Pasteurizing water in the Solavore Sport was very simple.

  1. Put water in the pot
  2. Suspend the WAPI, wax side up in the water.
  3. Put it in the oven and point it toward the sun.

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

It easily reached a temperature high enough to pasteurize the water within a couple of hours on a clear 80 degree day at approximately 5,800 ft. altitude.

Here’s video of how it’s done:

Cooking some dinner

My next project was cooking dinner.  We have a family of 6, so I filled both pots with partially frozen chicken and raw quartered potatoes.  This one I started about noon and we ate around 6 pm.  I did occasionally adjust the angle of the oven to keep up with location of the sun.  I didn’t check it before we were ready to eat, so it may have been done sooner.  The meat was super tender, and everything was nicely cooked through.  My amazing husband, who doesn’t dish out compliments easily, said it was the best chicken he’d had in a long time.  Thanks, Solavore!

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

Dinner going in . . .

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

And coming out perfect!

Without the reflectors, this oven didn’t get above about 250 degrees F for me.  The drawback there is that it won’t cook foods as quickly as a conventional oven.  The benefit is that slow cooked food is usually better tasting, and the oven doesn’t get so hot that you have to be super careful with kids around it.  So, having passed the “pasteurize water” test and the “cook dinner” test, and knowing the lower temperature range of this oven, I thought I’d put it to a real test and bake a cake in it.

Baking a cake

I used a cake mix I was familiar with so I could judge a little better how the end product turned out.  Even though dark pans are recommended, I used a light colored metal pan for the cake because that’s what I own.

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

It did need to bake for quite a bit longer than normal because of the lower temperatures, but 2.5 hours after putting it in the oven, I had cake.  Nice, moist, a little denser than usual, cake.  Delicious.  Without using my oven or having to use any fuel.  Just the power of the sun and the Solavore Sport oven.

Solavore sport solar oven review--will it bake a cake?

And for you visual folks, here’s the cake baking video and an overview of the Solavore Sport solar oven:

Giveaway!

Solavore is also going to send one of my readers a Solavore Sport oven of their own, complete with reflector, two 3-qt Granite Ware pots, thermometer, WAPI, and Getting Started guide.  A $269 value!  What a great way to celebrate the sunshine and get practicing cooking without power!  To enter the giveaway, use the form below to sign up for my mailing list.  I promise the list is not spammy–I use it to share preparedness information and deals I find with my readers.  You can always unsubscribe if you find it is not of value to you.  You can also share this giveaway with your friends for extra entries!  Giveaway ends next Wednesday, July 20 at 11:59:59 pm MDT.  Good luck!

Solavore Sport Solar Oven

Keep preparing!
Angela

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Solavore Sport Oven Review & Giveaway!

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solavore oven review

I have been using the Solavore Sport Oven for the past month and had an opportunity to review this product.

When the unit arrived, I noticed that it was lightweight, and it was easy to put all the “parts” together. This is just a matter of putting together 3 pieces: the black oven itself, the plastic top, and the reflector panels, which line the oven. It came with a WAPI stick to confirm you have achieved water pasteurization, which is a handy survival tool to have on hand. Since the easiest test of all is the heating of water,  I thought I’d try that first as part of my Solavore review. The weather was optimal, because the sun was out, it was around 45-50 degrees, but breezy.

I put cold tap water in my quart Mason jar, and suspended the WAPI stick so that it remained in the center of the jar. Then I placed the lid on, and reflector panels. I went to do some outdoor work and checked on it 30 minutes later. The interior temperature of the Solavore was already up to 220 and there was some condensation on the inside of the oven’s lid. The wax in the WAPI had already flipped from one side of the tube to the other end, indicating the water had achieved pasteurization. Since the water was nice and hot,  I used it to make a pot of hot tea!

Main dishes in the Solavore

Next, I wanted to try a main dish, so I decided to make Chicken Cacciatore. Weather conditions were in the mid-fifties, sunny, and breezy. I started with four large partially frozen chicken breasts. I placed two in each black enamel pan and added a quart of store bought spaghetti sauce, fresh basil, and garlic. I put the lids on and placed them in the oven. After an hour or so, I could actually smell the chicken, but I didn’t want to open it up and peek. I didn’t want to risk losing the heat that had built up. I did occasionally rotate the oven for optimal sun.

After about 4 ½ hours later, I had to check it, because of how good it smelled. To my surprise, it was completely done. The chicken was tender, juicy, and it easily pulled apart with just a fork. (I made my pasta on the stove, because the unit was full of my Chicken Cacciatore.) I plated it up, and added parmesan cheese. The slow cooking had infused the sauce and chicken with the basil and garlic. It was delicious and my family loved it.

The next time weather permitted, I made two pans of bratwurst and onions for some company I was expecting. The brats were defrosted, and I placed them on top of the sliced onions, and into the Solavore. Weather conditions were full sun, low 60’s, and breezy. This time it only took 3 hours for it to be fully cooked and BROWNED, which I didn’t expect. I didn’t realize how much water onions contained, because I had quite a bit of liquid at the bottom of the pan. It looked more like soup, so I drained it, and it was fine. I served it with hot dog buns, and everyone raved about it.

A few days later, I went to my mom’s for the day to mow her large property. I thought I’d get the meal started before leaving, and then get to work on her yard. This meal was two pans each of a 3-pound, mostly frozen chuck roast, pound of halved potatoes, and a pound of mini carrots. No water was added. Weather conditions were favorable that day with full sun, 60 degree temperatures, and breezy.

LEARN MORE: You can read all about the Solavore at their website.

I put the Solavore in full sun at 10:30 am, and stopped at 2:00 to check it. It smelled good, but when I lifted the lid, I knew it wasn’t going to be ready for dinner. I ended up quartering the roasts, mixing all the contents, and put the lids back on. I checked again at 5:30, and it was completely done. It smelled heavenly, was nicely browned, and everything was simmering in a tasty broth. The meat had fallen off the bone. My dogs were happy to get those!

Solavore cooks up a great dessert

Lastly, I wanted to bake something to see how the Solavore performed in that capacity. I decided to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. First, I put a stick and a half of butter in the pan to melt. Then, I  added  brown sugar, pineapple rings, and maraschino cherries. I mixed up a store-bought yellow cake mix, poured it over the top, put it in the oven, and then drove it to work!

I placed the oven in the parking lot where I could see it. It was about 60 degrees outside, mild, but 50% cloudy, so I left the reflector panels on it. About 3 hours later, I checked, and the cake was golden brown. It smelled just like warm pineapple. I inverted the cake onto a tray and was amazed at how pretty it looked. It tasted just as good if not better than a conventional oven. I think the moisture stays in the cake instead of escaping and you can really tell the difference. I noted that the cake rose properly, and the bottom wasn’t burned. It was truly remarkable.

My Solavore review verdict

After trying out the Solavore Sport Oven, I am impressed with this product. It is very versatile, and can really cook anything. I can make enough food for 8 people, maybe more if you include kids. I also researched the price, and found it retails for about $229.00, which is significantly lower than other brands.

My top heat was 250-260 degrees, which was sufficient for any of the food I made. When I made the chuck roast at my mom’s (Hi Mom!), I drove home with the meal in the oven, and it retained the temperature, so my food was still piping hot 20 minutes later. I like the fact you can quickly pasteurize water. Even on a mostly cloudy day, its easy to get the WAPI to 150 degrees.

The only thing I did to improve the unit’s efficiency was to prop a tree branch under it during afternoon hours to catch more of the sun. Overall, I  give the Solavore Sport Oven 5 out of 5 stars for:

  • Doing exactly what it promised to do
  • Its versatility
  • Competitive price
  • It’s environmentally friendly
  • Lightweight and easily transported

Thanks, Solavore for a quality product. The company provided me with an oven but in no way attempted to influence my review.

Now for the giveaway!

Win a Solavore Sport Oven! This giveaway begins at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, and ends at midnight on Monday, May 30. One winner will be selected at random and notified via email within 48 hours. Winner must respond with a valid shipping address within 72 hours or the prize is forfeited and another winner will be selected.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

solavore oven review

Survival Mom DIY: Build Your Own Fresnel Lens

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diy fresnel lensThe story of my DIY Fresnel lens began three years ago when I lost my house and all its contents in a fire. It started around 4:00 a.m. when my daughter got up and fluffed her job uniform in the dryer. We had no idea the dryer would short out and burn through a gas line.

Later that same morning, I woke up and smelled smoke. It looked a bit hazy in the house, and it smelled acrid to me, so I woke up my husband and son and they began to look around for the source of the small. My husband checked the wood stove, it was fine, but when he opened the basement door, fire flashed over the room.

Once the fire fighters left, everything we had owned was a wet, smoky, smoldering mess. I didn’t think anything could be saved at that point, but I was wrong.

Salvaging the Fresnel lens

My husband, Jeff, and I kept going back through the remains of our home to see if we could find anything that survived the fire, and to visualize what had once been our house. One find was the 60″ big screen TV in the basement. It was melted on the outside and misshapen, but we thought, “Hmmm….there should be a lens in that TV. I wonder if we could salvage it?”

If we could, we knew that lens could be fashioned into a frame and become a functioning Fresnel lens. With that lens alone, I could make an outdoor oven, but we quickly encountered the next problem: we didn’t have any tools! We dug through ashes and debris where the garage had been, and found a screwdriver.

With just that one tool we were able to take out the screws that held the TV together where we could. When the melted plastic proved to be a challenge, we just beat the crap out of it with the handle of the screwdriver to get to the inside of the TV! All this effort paid off. This big, beautiful, rectangular flexible lens came out completely intact!

My next step was to contact my friend, John, a woodworker, to see if he could help me build a frame that could resemble a standing mirror, with a way to pivot the lens. John was happy to help, and he had tools! I couldn’t provide anything but the lens. Believe it or not, this small project gave me something to focus on rather than all our losses.

Putting the Fresnel lens and frame together

If you’re unfamiliar with the Fresnel lens, imagine a giant magnifying glass. You can start a small fire by directing sunlight through the magnifying glass onto a tiny pile of wood shavings or paper. Now imagine that magnifying glass many, many times larger and you have a Fresnel lens.

I headed over to John’s shop with my lens. I should mention, there are two types of these lenses: linear and spot lenses. Most lenses coming out of the older big screen TV’s are linear, and produce a more diffused area of heat when the sun strikes the center of the lens. If you are really lucky, you may get a spot lens. It focuses the sun into a small focal point on the lens, and you may be able to melt metal with it.

fresnel lensJohn is not just a great friend, but a great teacher. He measured and cut a length of wood for one side, and then let me do the opposite side. For the frame, we made 2 long boards, 2 shorter boards, each with a fine groove down the center of each. This way, the lens would fit snugly into the frame, and not fall out. A threaded bolt (lag bolt) was inserted halfway down the long side of each frame. (see photo)

Next, we worked on making two “T” shaped legs, with the “T” being the base touching the ground. A hole was drilled about 2″from the top of each leg. The lag bolt that was sticking out of the rectangular frame, was inserted through the top of the leg. John added a small plastic knob to the outside to keep everything in its place.

Voila, it was finished!  Since it was a sunny day, we experimented with it, by placing a piece of heavy cardboard on the ground, and angled the lens towards it. After several seconds, smoke began to appear. Then the cardboard began to burn. With that, I knew it could generate heat. My next step was to learn to cook with it.

How to use the Fresnel lens for cooking

As an off-grid cooking method, a Fresnel lens is a whole different animal than a solar cooker, such as the Sun Oven. A Fresnel lens is able to focus the power of the sun so directly that it can start a fire within seconds. Therefore, a couple of safety measures must be in place.

First, everyone around the lens should use dark safety glasses to protect your eyes. The glare from this lens is extreme and corneas can become permanently damaged. (I also recommend sunglasses when using the Sun Oven, as those reflectors cast extreme glares as well.) Second, it’s best if the cooking area is free of anything flammable, such as grass, leaves, and twigs. You want to cook just a pot of food, not set the whole backyard on fire! A third important point is to never leave the Fresnel lens out in the sunlight without being there to supervise. This isn’t the type of cooking or baking that allows you to wander away and clean house or watch a TV show while the food is cooking. Some people have use spot lenses to melt metal. That gives you an idea of the capabilities these lenses have.

When using the lens to cook, I’ve mostly used cast iron skillets and pots. I simply set the pot on the ground and aim the lens toward it. I’ve found that I get good cooking results even if the pot of food is slightly to the left or right of the direct beam of the lens, although you can move either the pot or the lens, whichever is easier, to keep the sunlight directed toward your food. Some folks I know use Pyrex dishes, but I haven’t tried that, yet.

Cooking time will depend on cloud cover and the food itself. A pot of soup will cook up more quickly than a whole chicken. I recommend keeping a log of everything you cook and the length of time it takes. That will be your best gauge for cooking times, although one person reported that a hot dog was burned to a crisp in just about a minute.

Here’s an interesting forum discussion about these lenses.

If you decide to make one of these yourself, remember, SAFETY FIRST, and then have fun trying this new, solar powered wonder.

fresnel lens diy