Solar ovens

Peddler’s Wagon Product Review

Practical products for the urban homesteader Sun Ovens

Back in the early 1990’s I remember building our first sun oven using cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and piece of glass.   Although homemade ovens are a great diy project (a few years back we built a sturdier sun oven using scraps of plywood and cooking sheets) solar ovens have come a long way this decade. Now there’s no excuse not to use the sun’s energy with these commercial models.

Besides our homemade one, we have two other solar ovens models here on the urban homestead: the Sport Sun Oven and Global Sun Oven (both were featured on CBS’ New Morning with the American Test Kitchen –watch video & read full article)   Having used them both I like this about one and that about the other.  

Global Sun Oven

Like: Sturdiness

Dislike: Small interior oven space

Sport Sun Oven

Like: Lightweight, made from recycled materials. Larger interior oven space – able to fit cookie trays, 9 x 13 casserole dish, two 3 liter pots.

Dislike: The reflectors are somewhat lightweight, but that doesn’t necessarily affect the cooking in the least.

Other advantages of both sun ovens, food tastes better, is healthier, food never burns and, better yet, you are harnessing free, natural energy to cook your food.

Solar cooking is one of the easiest, most enjoyable way to reduce your carbon footprint. The energy you waste when cooking indoors is more than what’s burned on your stovetop or in your oven. In the summer, additional energy is often required to cool down the rest of the house, which can get heated up by cooking in the kitchen.

Temperatures in a sun oven rise slowly and evenly, allowing complex carbohydrates time to break down into simple sugars, emanating subtle natural flavors. The even temperature of the sun oven prevents burning, so you do not need to stir your food while it is cooking.

We urban homesteaders like to use our solar ovens to bake and cook a variety of foods. Once you taste a sun baked cookie, you’re hooked for life.   Rice, dried beans, potatoes, casseroles really cook up well, and the flavors are intense.     I like the fact that one is outdoors and using natural energy — sunshine. There’s no impersonal knobs or temperature gauges; one feels connected with the natural world.   When folks ask me what they can cook in a solar oven, I simply answer them “anything that you cook in a regular gas or electric oven can be cook in a sun oven.”   Yet another practical solution to being the change by actually incorporating steps to live the solution.

:: BUY :: Solar Ovens

Next review Solar Cone Composter

Growing the Future

PTF has been busy — out and about this month. UCLA, PCC, Universal Studios, Downtown LA and more.  We could travel to and fro as there has definitely been an increase in outreach opportunities and thousands of folks wanting tours, but we are struggling balancing urban homesteading and inspiring others.   Requests just keep pouring in.  It’s really great to see PTF so much in demand, talking with the folks on the phone and reading their emails. They want “people who are walking the talk.”    Our PTF booth  and project does just that, by plainly laying out the steps we have taken in our sustainable journey, and we truly, truly wish we could accommodate all such requests.

Good news, we’ve run out of PTF brochures. Bad news, we need to print more.  The seeds of the urban sustainable message have been sown not only to thousands of online worldwide readers but also through our outreach efforts.   Since the first professionally printed brochure a few years ago, we’ve given away nearly 20,000!  

PTF is not just an urban homestead; it’s a local and worldwide growing movement and outreach (this year PTF website topped nearly 2 million unique visitors and nearly 50 million hits). Many of the expenses to run the outreach have been supported out of our very own pockets.   But as our outreach continues to grow, we can no longer support the urban homestead, ourselves and the public work.   So that’s why we formed Dervaes Institute, which is a earth based/stewardship “ministry” able to accept tax deductible donations to support the outreach (and only the outreach) aspect of PTF.

One PTF reader asked if we could breakdown expenses and needs. Sorry, it took awhile to finally getting around to it. Not having time to included all the “little stuff” just now, here’s a brief overview:

1. PTF banner, sign ($300) for tabling display

2. PTF (revised) Brochure eco printed ($2,000 for 5,000 )

3. PTF Web Upgrades $8,000+ (open source compatibility, templates, software, assistance for coding so we can get the website online –FASTER!)

4. PTF yearly webhosting fee ($1,500+)

5. Video Software ($2,000)6. PTF Video Brochure (cost of copying 1000 dvd’s $ 1,000)7. PTF downloadable docs, additional educational handouts and “merchandise” (i.e. calendar, garden journal, etc) ($2,000-$6,000+)

Total $17,000 – $20,000

So far raised this year nearly$4,000  Yes, I know, we sorely underestimated putting the goal at $6,000 but that was before we decided it was high time to finally bite the bullet and invest in improving the PTF site to keep up with the urban homestead’s growth and reach. The new site will make it easier to incorporate new projects, future plans and any unforeseeable scenarios that may pop up in the future.   PTF has a lot to offer, and we are finally taking time to build the foundation straight and strong for future growth because right now everything is just held together with strings and band aids.Your support is valued and greatly appreciated. PTF continues to chart a course towards a sustainable future and inspiring others along the way to leave the crowded freeway of life and set out on their own path.

:: Field Hand Appreciation ::

KS $50.00 donation. Thank you for your support!


The entire PTF family is off to a nearby friend’s house for a community potluck type of Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Although I wish we could camp at our favorite beach like we have done Thanksgiving’s past (way past), we have too much work here on the urban homestead. These past couple years Thanksgiving has been a time when we’ve accomplished some really big projects (solar panels, taking out the concrete patio, helping out folks in New Orleans after Katrina). This year we are going to be moving the bees to a more permanent location here on the urban homestead – should be quite interesting because they’ll be moving up in the world, if you get my drift.

I am going to be taking some time off, working all the mundane tasks needed to get the new PTF website up and running (new deadline is Feb/Mar ’08 – the new site is slowing taking shape – too bad you all can’t see it just yet). Posting will resume on Monday.  

No Comments

  1. Charley says:

    Just looking over your budget. Does your web-hosting fee include traffic ? I was just wondering if having your journal, which I assume is the most popular page on your site, archive the previous posts for the month to one page and just display the last 2-3 posts/days with a link to the archive at the bottom would cut your bill a little? I would guess that your bandwidth usage spikes quite a bit towards the end of the month when close on 30 days worth of text and pictures has to be loaded by frequent visitors.
    Just a suggestion. Hope things are going well there.

  2. sonrisa says:

    How do you like your top bar hive? I’m hoping to put one on the roof of our addition next spring. We could probably support a dozen up there but we’ll start with one. Just till I get my bee legs, or swell up like a balloon and die. kidding!

    Any thoughts on them compared to the basic hive would be great.


  3. Kym Carkhuff Helwig says:

    I would like to start using a solar oven, but the temps are dropping here in PA. Is there a minimum temperature at which the solar oven will work?
    Thanks for answering my question. And thanks for your work!
    Kym Helwig

  4. Sonrisa says:

    I just wanted to share my experience with the solar oven. Our low last night was 8 degrees F. We are in the rockies. I use my sun oven all winter long.

    The out side temp is less important than the amount of sun. If it is crystal clear mine will get to 350F even if it is sitting in the snow. But if it’s hazy or cloudy even when its 100F outside it may not get above 250.

    Another important factor is the angle the cooker is set to. In mid winter the sun is much lower in the sky than the little leg on the back can handle, so I put a brick under the front.

    I really love my sun oven. If I could afford it I would buy one for every one in my family. And a second one for myself.