Solar Powered Vacuum Cooker – At Star & Bullock Hardware
My primary job since the start of Prepping 101 has been to protect all of us from prepper scams. Or at least that’s the way I viewed it. Most people took a break from the prepper space during the Trump years, which was why I abandoned working on Prepping
101, but prior to that, prepping was a hot topic. The market was flooded with “solutions” to all of your off grid needs, and oodles of new found experts to explain them to you.
To quantify this, my measure, when it comes to people and products, is to look at just how polished they are, and just how well funded they are. Good video editors are not cheap, so unless you find a guy like Stew Peters who learned how to do high level production himself, you can bet that there are money interests behind the production, and they are selling you something you don’t need, don’t want, and/or could mostly find much cheaper. And most of their “content” is meant to obfuscate the truth. With products, I have found a lot of brand creation entities who take a fairly standard product sold in China and brand it here with a big budget production, designed to sell it for five times the price. Some are even doing Kickstarters these days, pretending that they are in development for a product that is already widely available.
Right now, compared to 2016, multiply that times 100 when it comes to scam noise in the prepper space. The world is currently flush with folks who suddenly are experts at all things prepping again, and some of the Youtube channels number in the millions of subscribers, with very high engagement. A lot of people are getting scammed on prepper food, water filters, solar panel generators, cheap “ham” radios, and overpriced cooking solutions. I have yet to find a prepper channel with a lot of subscribers that has any substantive information at all.
So when I found this cooker, immediately I figured that it was a scam product being hocked somewhere by a “My Patriot Supply” type company, and that China was selling them out the back door. It just doesn’t look substantive from the outside, and I figured that the internal cooking tube was plastic with black Mylar on the inside. I though I did positively review the “Sun Oven” back in the day, and still have 3 of them, it is such a pain to use that I would rather go shag firewood. I figured this product was going to be another exercise in all afternoon cooking for acceptable results.
So nonetheless I got one, figuring that I would later find the big budget scammers who are selling them under an exclusive sounding brand name, and out it as junk.
Boy was I wrong. Because for one, I have been unable to find any source for this except direct from China. And for two, the product is awesome, and extremely robust.
The secret is the vacuum chamber. If you look in the end of it, the inside looks like an old time Thermos bottle. It is a glass double wall tube with a vacuum between the walls. The inside glass is dark brown, so the sun travels through the outer glass, hits the inner glass and heats it, then the vacuum protects the heat from escaping.
That solves the major problem that was found in the Sun Oven. It worked great when the sun was shining, but if a cloud came by, the oven lost it’s heat and you have to kind of start over again. This leads to a whole afternoon of adjustment, with a crichety adjustment system that works, but it is a pain to use. It also has large floppy reflector leaves all around, so you have to reach under to do all of this, all afternoon.
Not so with this solar cooker. Because like the Sun Oven, it has a fairly small cooking space, but between direct sun times, the vacuum holds the heat in the tube. The food continues to cook at temperature, and when the sun comes back out the tube gets recharged for longer cooking things like beans, rice, and my experiment, bread.
The other thing that makes this special is the adjustment simple. It just rotates, so you can come out at intervals to readjust very easily if you are cooking something for a while. The “pan” turns and can be kept upright no matter the angle of the metal leaves, so you can cook things like rice and beans just as easily as meat and bread.
It does have one design flaw. The cap on the long “pan” insert has a nice rubber seal, but there is no way to hold it against the end of the glass. In my first loaf of bread I put a piece of tape on about half way through. I forgot completely on the second the next day, and the pan had actually slipped out a bit when I went to check it.
I would like to get a hasp clip and epoxy it to the oven and the cap, to hold it firmly in. But that would lock it in one position, which defeats the design somewhat. So hmm. Maybe tape is the best bet. Maybe if I figure it out I’ll do a followup with eggs and beans and that kind of stuff. As I have explained over the years, I don’t dedicate a lot of my life to prepping. A product like this, all you really need to know is that it works, how to use it, and where you put it. Tape is fine, but you do have to remember lol.
The “pan” is about 19″ long and 2″ wide. My first loaf was this, and I cooked the whole batch after letting it rise, punching it down, and letting it rise again.
450g (3.75 cups) Bread Flour
350g (1.5 cups) Warm Water
7g (2 1/4 tsp. or One Packet) Dry Yeast
1.5 tsp Salt
I put the yeast in the water and let it sit for a bit, then added the flour, then after mixed, the salt. Salt slows or halts yeast production, so I always add it last, because I use really old yeast. That is one of my conditions when I do these tests. I have tested years 5 and more years out of date, and it works fine, albeit slower.
The whole batch was a hefty for the first batch. It cooked fine, but clearly was being contained by the glass tube and the bread was way too dense.
The second batch was about 1/3rd of the recipe, and I didn’t push it all the way to the end in hopes of even cooking, then I forgot to tape the end cap, so oh well. That amount, after letting it rise for a while in the “pan” with my oven on “Proof,” seemed to be a good amount. I did overcook it some. Busy day. I also had what has become my standard audio dropouts, so I ordered yet another wireless mic system today.
This is an absolutely bulletproof product for off-grid cooking. Much more robust than the Sun Oven, and very compact and portable. It comes with a carry case, and the metal leaves protect the glass from at least small knocks. I would not drop this thing though, because like the old Thermos bottles, when the glass breaks, it’s garbage. Not for the zombie apocalypse probably, but for a stable location, or strapped to the side of a backpack, probably worth its weight in gold.
Solar Powered Vacuum Cooker – At Star & Bullock Hardware