We’ve been enjoying the savings and convenience of our Sun Oven (see Cooking with Solar) this summer. Yesterday, it proved its value even further.
We’ve picked up a few new cast iron implements at recent community sales. As is often the case with second hand cast iron, these needed re-seasoning before using. I’d put off doing anything about them because, while it’s an easy process (described in Cooking With Cast Iron Cookware) it uses propane or charcoal, and, if done inside, can generate too much heat and smoke for comfort, especially in the summer months. As I set up the solar oven for another project, I thought about seasoning the pieces in there. I checked my instructions and discovered that the recommended 325° heat falls within the capability of the sun oven.
As soon as my original baking project ended, I greased up the cast iron and placed it in the oven. I kept to the general times recommended by the seasoning instructions, but worried about it far less than I would have had I been using the propane stove. The free solar heat cost nothing; a little extra time on the seasoning process certainly didn’t hurt the cast iron.
Yet again, I’m thrilled with the sun oven! Even after all the meals we’ve cooked with it, I still tend to think of it as somehow deficient, as a half-measure of sorts. Clearly, this is not the case. As we continue to expand its utility we whittle away at our household costs.
In fact, ever since we started using our propane stove, we’ve tracked usage, noting how many days each tank of propane lasts. They last as little as slightly more than a month to a few 50+ day stretches in the winter, when cold temperatures make the tanks last longer, and we do some of our cooking on the wood stove. We think we may have missed noting a tank change earlier this year, but there’s a good chance we didn’t. The propane tally seemed inordinately long, leading us to think we missed a change out, but the last change we recorded came within about 3 weeks of purchasing the Sun Oven. It’s possible that using it stretched a single tank’s “life” to 79 days, possibly longer! We appreciate the savings, and reduced need to haul in the heavy propane tanks on our backs.