Apple harvest time this year produced lots of fruit. We canned slices, made apple sauce and dried some. The SunOven® works well as a fruit dehydrator. First we set the SunOven® outside, but not focused on the sun. We wanted a slight preheat but to less than 100º. Apples were washed and aligned in a Norpro “Apple Master”, an apple peeler, corer, and slicer. A few turns of the handle made quick work of the first apple. Slide the apple spiral slices off the core and place them on a cutting board.
Slice the spiral in half. Place the apple slices in a solution of water and Fruit Fresh® ascorbic acid (follow directions on bottle) to keep the slices from turning dark.
Cover the drying racks with parchment paper and drain apple slices. Line them up on the racks. Carefully arrange the racks inside the SunOven®. Leave the door latches under the glass door to allow air flow and keep the temperature low inside. We turn the oven so it is behind the sun track. Check at the end of the day. If not completely dry, latch and leave over night. Finish the next day. When slices are dry, remove from racks and pack into a clean glass jar. Add an oxygen absorber and pull a vacuum with a Food Saver® or by hand with a clean brake bleeder. Store cool and dark.
November 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson, editor
Summer is almost over, which means my favorite fruit, peaches, will soon disappear from the markets. Fresh, in pies, cobblers, or jams – I could eat them every day. This is my first batch dehydrated in the Sun Oven. I plan on enjoying them in the dead of winter – if I can resist that long.
Since I’d never dehydrated anything other than tomatoes before, I did a quick search for some tips. The best information I found was on the Georgia Peaches website – you can find it here. They recommend dipping the slices in an ascorbic acid or some kind of sugar solution to help preserve the color of the fruit. I chose the ascorbic acid (Fresh Fruit) option because I didn’t want any added sugar. I also got the idea to use cheese cloth to line the racks.
Unfortunately, after all the time I spent searching for help and then preparing the fruit, I didn’t get the peaches in the oven until almost noon. By the end of the day they were not quite done (but that didn’t stop me from eating half the top layer) but a couple of hours tomorrow should do the trick.
To use a Sun Oven as a dehydrator, prop the glass door open by letting it rest on the metal clasps. This will let the moisture escape. Then, position the oven so it’s not directly in the sun. You want to reach a temperature of 150F or so. The Sun Oven will need to be repositioned every half hour or so to keep it from getting too hot. The hardest part of Sun Oven drying is keeping the temperature low enough. I set a timer (one that I can hear from anywhere in the house) to remind myself to move the oven.
I subscribe to the King Arthur Flour company’s emails and every now and then I find a recipe in my inbox that I just have to try immediately.
This one for hand-held pies is one of them. The pastry dough is rich and flaky and they’re almost as much fun to make as they are to eat.
The complete recipe, with detailed instructions on how to execute it, can be found here. They use something called instant ClearJel as a thickener for the filling. I used cornstarch instead.
The baking time in the Sun Oven was about 40 minutes. I used the stackable baking racks, if you don’t have them you could use two cross-stacked rimmed baking sheets or bake the pies in two batches.
I believe they’re meant to be breakfast pastries, but for us solar chefs they make a great afternoon treat.
A cross between a cracker and a cookie, these super easy to make, slightly sweet squares go well with cheese, soups, or even yogurt.
Sun Oven Oat Crackers
1/2 cup steel cut oats
2/3 cup wholewheat flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
Rich, buttery, soft rolls from a traditional British recipe. Using a bread machine to knead the dough and a Sun Oven to bake them means next to no work for the baker. This recipe makes a dozen rolls and fits perfectly in the Sun Oven’s cooking chamber.
Sun Oven Bridge Rolls
7 tablespoons milk
2 cups white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
When baking cookies in the Sun Oven there are three things to keep in mind: adjust the tilt of the Sun Oven before putting the cookies in the cooking chamber, use rimmed baking sheets, and set a timer. Due to the high fat content of cookies they can easily slide off the pans. Getting the leveling tray as flat as possible and a rimmed baking sheet (or the rim of the dehydrating racks) will stop that from happening. The cooking time is short enough that you won’t have to readjust the tilt while they’re baking. The fat content also make cookies one of the few foods that can burn in the Sun Oven. A timer will solve that problem. You don’t need the dehydrating rakes to bake drop cookies but they make it a lot easier.
Sun Oven Molasses Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Now that we live in the L.A. area long commutes are becoming a part of life. What should be a 20 minute trip can take an hour (on a good day) or more. Easy to eat, fun snacks like these oatmeal bars help make sitting in traffic a little more bearable. This recipe is pretty basic. It can be jazzed up with mix-ins such as chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried fruit.
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
I can’t remember the last time I baked sugar cookies. I don’t have the patience, let alone the skill, for fancy decoration. Food coloring or decorating sugars are not things I keep on hand, and, at least until now, it was hard to fit very many cookies in the Sun Oven at one time, but after my recent cake calamity I was left with a craving for something sweet. When I saw a sugar cookie baking mix at Trader Joe’s I couldn’t resist.
The dehydrating racks took care of the space issue. The mix comes with frosting and sparkling sugar and, with a yield of only about two dozen, I managed to muster up the patience to frost them. Cookie cutters were not an issue. I pick them up at yard sales or thrift stores, and now have an extensive collection of them, so it was nice to get a chance to use a few.
We were among the thousands of Los Angeles area residents without power after the massive windstorm Thursday night so I finally got to use my Sun Oven in an emergency situation. What did I make? Cookies, of course. I thought, based on the estimate given to us by the power company, that the outage would be fixed by early evening. If I’d known we’d be without power until the following day I might have rustled together something for dinner instead, but cookies were on my schedule so that’s what I made. We had just enough sunshine to get the job done.
Big Sun Oven Oatmeal Cookies
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
This batch of breadsticks can be baked in the Sun Oven in one go using the dehydrating racks (or any other method you can come up with to stack three baking sheets). They can be rolled in salt, poppy or sesame seeds, or left plain. They’ll keep for a couple of days if stored in an airtight container and can be refreshed in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. As usual, I prepare the dough using my bread machine.
Sun Oven Breadsticks
7/8 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing