solar cooking experiment

I live in the absolutely sunny state of AZ.  And this is important to this story.

As we journey into fall, shorter days, sun lower to the horizon, the sun’s usefulness for solar cooking changes, at least for me.

Up until today, the only thing I have used solar for is to heat up some left overs; a dark colored pot sitting on an aluminum baking tray worked fine over about 3 hours to warm up some lasagna for lunch.

Today, I tried to cook rice.  That gets a big thumbs down!

first, in the matter of you get what you pay for, bought an inexpensive solar cooker.  Did not want to make the big investment until I knew if it would work out for us.  the bottom line was, two hours in the sun and the water had barely gotten warm.  TOTAL miscalculation of how long for everything to get to temp before the cooking even begins. This might have been okay if we were going to eat that rice for dinner, but not for lunch. Unfortunately, we eat our main meal at noon.  So even with a better quality solar cooker, it still might not do the job, at least in winter.  In summer, I could start that rice at 6am, but at this time of year, 9am maybe, and in another month, not until 10.

The reason this is coming up is my slow cooker died.  So now I’m considering things like stews, roasts, beans, rice, that I was cooking in that device going to solar.    and its looking like, cook it today to eat it tomorrow!

Now, that’s not totally out of the question, but then there is the matter of orientation.  Will I remember, have the opportunity, to go out and reposition the cooker throughout the day?

Would love any feedback on who is working with solar cooking and how its going.


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The turkey, rice and vegetable soup I’d previously dehydrated got weighed out and packaged.  Six quarts, weighed out the total dried, divided by six and that many grams went into a plastic sandwich bag, made a label, then shrink wrapped each one.  So the instructions are sealed from water damage, dust, fading, peeling

IMG_0937Turkey soup ready to go into a backpack, the go bag, long term storage, or tonights dinner

IMG_0938 Refried beans.  This time,weighed out the total, divided by the number of servings (from the original pot of refrieds, one ladle was enough for a breakfast or dinner side, so each ladle counted as a serving), measured that amount which turned out to be 1/2C dried.  So just put that info on the jar.

IMG_0935dehydrating chili.  Made about 7 quarts, we had for dinner last night, sharing one with a friend, and drying the rest.  Will probably package this batch as I did with the refrieds.  If it works well, will make up a batch for packaging as I did with the soup.

Its approximately a one to one water to dried food, with the beans and chili.  The soup will be the amount in water that is intended as a serving.

All it takes is the right tools, and I can package up what we need, to our taste, and I know everything that went into it.

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Just went by the hive, its almost 6pm, sun below the horizon, still plenty of light.  Bees on the landing board.  Bigger bees with darker bodies.

Are the bees throwing out the drones as they reduce population for the winter?

Has my queen died and all I’ve got are drones?

Have some other bees taken over my hive?

Will open the hive this weekend and hopefully find answers.

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dehydration for storage

This is a bag containing 560 grams of dehydrated Turkey rice soup w/vegetables.  Its what’s left of 6 quarts of soup.  While I prefer, usually, to can my soup, there are times when I’d like to have some emergency food on hand, or, to fit in the camper for space and weight.  yes, you still have to have water, but for the time being, water is available, while organic home made food isn’t.  I will divide this 560 grams into 6 equal packages, each to have 3-4 cups of water added to make a hot meal.


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canning problem

just made up some chicken broth using on sale Chicken legs.  Ended up with 5 quart jars with some chicken meat and broth, and 4 quart jars of just broth.  Canner only holds 7 quart jars, so 2 went right into the fridge.  The 5 were canned used Tattler lids, the other 2 with regular style canning lids.

4 of the Tattler sealed, the other 3 did not.

So this morning, since I didn’t want to end up with 5 quarts in the fridge, took those three and one of the ones I’d put in the fridge and recanned.  Everything got heated well, fresh lids (reused the tattler after cleaning well) scalded and held hot.

One of the things I did notice, the jars where the lids sealed continued bubbling and boiling for some time after removal from the canner, while the ones that didn’t seal, did not.

Just removed the 4 quarts from the canner and the 3 with regular lids are still bubbling and boiling. The one with the tattler lid is bubbling just a little bit.  Just to be sure, checked the tightness of the bands of the ones with the regular lids and they are tight right now.

will leave a note in the comments section about how well they did, or did not, seal!

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bee check in

Have not opened the hive since the end of August as the weather is still hot days, although the nights are cooling.  There are still flowers about, but not much.

Go out with the dog around sundown and on the way home stop at the hive and see a lot of bees on the landing board, which tells me the hive is still hot with a large population of bees.  They haven’t even begun to close up the hive opening yet, its still fully open.

Meanwhile, have mixed up some pollen substitute, but put it in the garden near the flowers rather than by the hive.  Figure if they need it and can use it, they’ve got it. But don’t want to encourage them to keep up the egg laying thinking there is plenty of food as the winter approaches.

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GF dehydration experiments


This is a mix of gluten free cooked grains (oatmeal, buckwheat, amaranth, polenta) with apples, rhubarb, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and sugar put out in 1/2 cup measures to dry.  One lot was left as noted, then added some craisins, and added chocolate chips to the last batch.  Some variation, all on the same theme.  Was trying for a ‘bar’, it came out harder and stiffer than that.  Still, can be munched as is, or reconstituted with water for a meal or snack. 

IMG_0923 set out on the dehydrator sheets.  After the top surface was dried, took them off the sheet and flipped them onto the mesh dryer sheet to finish

IMG_0926packed 3 per bag and vacuum sealed for storage

Posted in corn, dehydrating, fruit, gluten free, homesteading, organic, prepping, preserving, recipes, self-reliance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment