Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sun Oven, Part I: First Impressions

Welcome to the first installment of my series on the Global Sun Oven. First, my disclaimer. The Global Sun Oven Company sent me a Sun Oven to try. I'm not getting paid for this; I just get the fun of experimenting with the Sun Oven for length of time before I have to give it back. All opinions you'll read during this series are genuine and based on my personal experiences.

With that out of the way, let's get started.

The Box. Gee, I wonder what's inside?

My FedEx guy was chuckling and making snide comments as he delivered my package. Hey, guy, don't knock it before you try it! We'll see who's laughing when I'm eating freshly baked bread during a power outage! I've written before about how preparedness companies should ship their products in plain, unmarked boxes to help preserve their customers' privacy. A Sun Oven box doesn't give off the "crazy survivalist" vibes that some companies' boxes would, but still. Help preserve my OPSEC, Global Sun Oven, and I'll love you for it.

The moment I opened the box my nose was flooded with a strong chemical smell that nearly singed my nose hairs. Sorry for the ugly image but that's truly what it felt like. When I was doing some research on the Sun Oven prior to receiving it, I found several customers complaining that the Sun Oven lent a chemical taste to their food. My Sun Oven was packaged with explicit instructions on how to pre-clean it prior to use. I'll follow those instructions carefully and see what happens.

Out of the box and ready to go
The Sun Oven is very easy to put together.  It is already assembled and all you have to do is pop up the reflectors and put it in a sunny location. Done!  I appreciate the handy carrying handle and strap to hold reflectors in place during storage and transport. Even with my current handicaps, I had no problems lifting it and carrying it around.

The oven itself seems pretty sturdy. Reflectors are a bit bendy (we'll have to see how well they hold up to our legendary country winds), so if there's a weak spot, it's there. The case is plastic with wood surrounding the door. The door is made of tempered glass and it is attached to the body with sturdy metal hinges. The inside of the cooking box is made of anodized aluminum and it appears to be the source of the chemical odor. According to the company, the box has a food grade powder coating, so perhaps that's the culprit. I sure hope the pre-cleaning regimen works!

In position. The reflectors still have their protective coating

The reflectors come shipped with a protective coating that you have to remove. Hubby Dear and I had a hard time peeling it off and some of it clung stubbornly underneath the rivets. He and I are notoriously un-handy, though, so you would probably find it a breeze.

Looking inside the cooking box

Here's a shot of the inside of the Sun Oven. You'll see there is a thermometer included so that you can monitor the internal temperature. There is also an automatic leveling tray so that your food stays safely contained in its cooking vessel, no matter what angle you set your Sun Oven at.

The leveling leg

Speaking of angles, depending on the season and the time of day, you might find it necessary to angle the Sun Oven in order to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. There is a built-in leveling leg that makes this easy to do, even for me.

The Sun Oven comes with an owners manual, CD, and a cooking pot

My shipment also included an owners manual, pot, and a CD. The pot is pretty small for my family of six,  but you can stack pots inside the Sun Oven to cook more food at once. Apparently you can use any dark-colored or glass cooking vessel (NOT shiny aluminum or stainless steel and thinner pots are better), but I appreciated having a pot included with the Sun Oven.  The CD includes a copy of Wendy DeWitt's very helpful food storage plan, the owner's manual, two short instructional videos and a recipe and cooking tips document.

Now that I've become familiar with the Sun Oven,the only thing left to do is start using it! I hope to clean it tomorrow and cook something with it, weather permitting.

Stay tuned for Part II: the Sun Oven takes over where my mini-van left off. Can sun-baked cookies compete with oven-baked ones?  

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