Solar Cooking 101

Solar Cooking 101

Solar Cooking 101Can you really use the sun to cook your food?  Absolutely!!

There are SO many incredible benefits to harnessing the sun to cook your food.  Being that our home is 100% solar powered, it only seemed fitting to utilize our free resource to do our cooking and baking as well.  Believe it or not, but you can cook and bake everything you can make in a conventional oven in your Sun Oven with the exception of fried foods.

I spent a good portion of last year doing a solar cooking series here on our website and also on our YouTube channel.  I also was asked to share my knowledge in an Outdoor Cooking Class at Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS.


  • When using the sun to cook our food, we are using a free, renewable energy source.
  • Solar cooking is sustainable and betters the environment.
  • It has all the benefits of a slow cooker meal, without the need for electricity!
  • My family and I are able to work hard all day and then relax with a delicious meal just waiting for us.
  • It is simple, easy, and achieves tremendously flavorful meals.


There aren’t any… 🙂  As long as you can see your shadow, you can cook or bake in the Sun Oven….

I’d like to share with you the Sun Oven, the convenience of this product as well as how it works and important tips and tricks.

The Sun Oven is made in the USA and is lightweight and extremely easy to transport with the built in handle.

Setup is super simple:

  1. Place your alignment leg in the back of your oven and snap it in place using the middle hole on the back of your oven.  Your Sun Oven will come with stakes that can be inserted down into the holes in the bottom of the alignment let to make your oven wind resistant.  We built our solar kitchen out of repurposed skids and I have utilized paracord to secure the alignment leg to the table.
  2. Next unsnap the strap that holds the reflectors in place, life and unfold the reflectors and use the thumbscrew in the front of the unit to secure the reflectors by inserting the thumb screw into the reflectors and turning it one-quarter turn to hold the reflectors in place.
  3. Locate the white EZ-Sun Track indicators attached to the bottom corners of the glass door.  You will want to point the front of your Sun Oven towards the sun and using the indicators you will want the sun shining through the top hole of the indicator to be nicely aligned with the hole on the bottom of the indicator.   You may need to move your oven to the left or right and you may need to adjust the alignment leg on the back to get your perfect angle.  Once your holes are lined up you are ready to proceed.  the key to consistent cooking in the Sun Oven is having the right angle with the sun and keeping your unit in line with the sun during the cooking process.


When using your Sun Oven for the 1st time you will want to place 3 cups of straight vinegar in an open dish and place it in your Sun Oven for 90 to 120 minutes. You will want the glass door latched down tightly so that the vinegar will steam your Sun Oven. After the oven has been pre-heated you will want to wipe the inside of your oven and the inside of the glass down with the hot vinegar. Be sure to scrub hard on the interior glass especially where the glass touches the black rubber seal. This will clean your unit and give it a good tight seal to hold your heat while cooking.


When using a Sun Oven you want to place it in an area that will be free of shadows through the cooking process.  So you want to be sure that you place it away from large objects such as trees or buildings so that as the sun moves across the sky, shadows will not be cast on your Sun Oven.

What Was Included

My Sun Oven was part of what is called the Preparedness and Dehydrating Package from Sun Oven International.

Included in my package was:

· A leveling rack

· 3 multi-level dehydrating & baking racks with a roll of parchment paper

· 2 non-stick even heat bread pans

· 2 easy stack pots with interchangeable enamel and a glass lid

· Mutli-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)

It is important to have your leveling rack in place and place your stacking pots or baking dishes on the leveling rack to eliminate spillage while you are cooking and to keep your breads or desserts from baking unevenly.

It is also very helpful, but not necessary to preheat your oven prior to cooking.  If you are making a dish that can cook on low heat all day such as a roast or meal it wouldn’t have to be preheated, but I enjoy preheating my Sun Oven when I am on a time schedule or would like to make multiple things in the unit for the day.

Do I Need To Stir My Food

Another perk of the Sun Oven is that you do not need to stir your food or rotate your food if you do not want to.  When baking a meal I typically do not stir or reposition my food because every time you open the Sun Oven you allow your heat to escape and add roughly an additional 15 minutes to your cooking time.


Let’s talk about the dishes that I have found to work wonderful for cooking and baking in the sun.  Thin walled, dark dishes work well, glass, pottery and cast iron.  Both the pottery and the cast iron may take a little bit more time to heat up and start cooking, but the benefit to them is when the sun goes behind the clouds they will also hold the heat and continue to cook your food.  Enamel pieces work great too.

The only disadvantage to cooking in the Sun Oven is if the weather changes and you get a lot of cloud cover.  The only time this is a real disadvantage is if you have time constraints, but if you are using the unit like a slow cooker for the day it just means it will take just a bit longer for the food to be completed.  Oh there is one more disadvantage and that is the smells do not permeate your home when you are cooking outside, but trust me your food will be amazing!


Note:  All your recipes can be easily made in the Sun Oven.


Fruit Crisp

Here is a simple dessert recipe that I would like to share with you that is super simple to throw together.  You can use your favorite  fruit such as peaches, apples, blueberries, strawberries, etc.

The recipe is as simple as halving the peaches, removing the pit and skin and slicing as you would for a pie or add blueberries or sliced strawberries.  Once your fruit is rinsed or sliced and ready to go all I do is add a tbsp of Better Batter Gluten Free Flour as a bit of a thickener as well as 1/3 cup of sucanat and a tbsp of water.  I then take a cup of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats, 1/3 cup of sucanat and a 1/2 cup of coconut oil or butter to make my crumble for the top of the crisp.  Honestly, most of the time I double the crumble recipe because my guys love the topping.  I finish it off by sprinkling the entire top of the crisp with cinnamon.  This is a quick and easy recipe and you can do this with any fruit.

I also added an almond flour pie crust on the bottom of this crisp which is totally optional, but something we enjoy.


Almond Flour Pie Crust

2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 egg

Mix all the ingredients together well and press dough into a 9″ pie dish or in this case into the bottom of your peach crisp pan.  If you were to use this for a pie, you would want to bake at 350ºF for 8 to 12 minutes.

Here is another family favorite that I thought you would enjoy, Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.


How To Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake In The Sun Oven

How To Make A Gluten Free Pineapple Coconut Muffin In The Sun Oven

Baking Breads

I LOVE making breads or anything starchy.  I am truly a starch girl.  I also love baking my bread, pizza crust, English muffins, bagels, hot pretzels and rolls on or in pottery dishes as much as I possibly can and in the Sun Oven.  You will be so surprised at how wonderful they turn out in the Sun Oven.

Our Homemade Kaiser Roll is a family favorite recipe and we enjoy our Trayer Wilderness Hot Mustard to go along with our sandwiches.


How To Make Whole Wheat Bread In The Sun Oven


Your bread will have that nice brown crust on the outside with a nice moist soft inside.


For Sun Oven baking you will want to preheat your Sun Oven, set your timer for the required minutes and see how it looks.  It will all depend on the whether you have constant sun.  Constant sun will typically provide you with food cooked within 5 minutes of your timer.


 Meats & Meals

When cooking meat via the sun, just like when using the slow cooker, you must place your dish in the sun at an early hour, and rotate the oven every half hour to allow your meats to cook at a low heat all day long. I season my meat with minced dried garlic, dried onions, fresh basil, and homemade seasoning salt. I also add a bit of water to the bottom of the dish to create a nice meaty broth.


How To Make Chicken Breasts In The Sun Oven


Dehydrating Vegetables, Fruits and Meats

Yes, you can also use your Sun Oven to dehydrate which for me is awesome!   By simply leaving the cover just slightly cracked so the air can move around what you are drying you will have great success.  The Sun Oven comes with the racks and parchment paper which makes it very easy to just start doing things.  I love being able to utilize the dehydrated foods during the winter months.


The Sun Oven is an incredibly universal tool for your home or cabin.  I highly recommend the Sun Oven for one of your backup cooking methods in the event of an emergency, to eliminate extra heat in your home in the summer months and all your backyard and camping.  The Sun Oven quickly pays for itself, is great for the environment and utilizes a free God given resource!!

Your questions are always welcome!!

Have you used a Sun Oven yet?  Share your story or share why you would like to own one..



#TrayerWilderness  #SolarCooking

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How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Trayer Wilderness Homemade Vanilla ExtractIn our effort to make everything from scratch I have added a new raw ingredient to my list… Vanilla extract…

Learning how to make your own homemade vanilla extract could not be more simple and easy.

All you will need is the following:

♥ 3 vanilla beans
♥ 1 cup of vodka
♥ Glass jar with a tight fitting lid (I like the swing top bottles)

Using a kitchen scissors cut the beans in half the long way leaving a half an inch still whole at one end so as to keep the beans together.

Pour the cup of vodka over the beans 100% covering the beans. Close the jar tightly and store in a cool dark place for 2 months or longer. Remember to shake the jar from time to time.

This will last for a long time and you can add more vodka to top it off.

There you have it…  It is that easy…

Enjoy and be sure to check back for more how-to’s on condiments this summer. I am finally getting a chance to get all my recipes in order…

Blessings to you and yours…  ♥



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Mountain Woman Hot Pepper Mustard

I am so very blessed to have wonderful neighboring land owners.  When they pay us a visit they always bring us wonderful fresh produce from the U-Pick farms in Washington.   This weekend was filled with good company and a lot of kitchen time.  We made another batch of our Trayer Wilderness Homemade Chili Sauce and Salsa getting us 11 more quarts for winter.

This summer our Mountain Boy was on vacation with his grandparents and my Mountain Man was busy outside building things while I was putting up our winter forage and although our Mountain Dog was by my side like velcro awaiting a dropped morsel he was unable to assist without thumbs… 🙂  So I was not only blessed with the produce and the company this time, but also with some help.   It was quite a breath taking experience with all the habanero peppers being sliced.

I’ve included our recipe below.  We tried it out Sunday while entertaining the Stotz’s and our good friend John.  Everyone commented on how clear their sinuses became… 🙂

I look really forward to continue to share our lifestyle, recipes, ideas, tips and stories. We live very frugally and traditionally. We make and bake everything from scratch. We no longer purchase anything processed or packaged. It is a busy lifestyle, but it is very rewarding, healthy and money saving. We also work around a gluten free (wheat free) and casein free (dairy free) diet and I hope to share my knowledge with others. So continue to check back weekly for new posts.

Mountain Woman Hot Pepper Mustard
Recipe Type: condiment, mustard
Author: Mountain Woman Journals c/o Jaime & Casey Lenker
Serves: 16 pints
  • 36 to 40 peppers of your choice (seeded) – we use Habanero Chili’s
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1 quart of vinegar
  • 1 quart of yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  1. Mix flour and vinegar. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a whisk.
  2. Cook on low to medium heat. Continue to stir and mix until thick.
  3. Add hot mustard to pint sized jars (or jars of choice), add lids, screw rings on tight and let set to seal.


20120726-063701.jpg Simple Lives at
Mexican Wildflower

Trayer Wilderness Hot Pepper Jelly…. Not just jelly….

The canning and jarring season is upon us and we are jumping in with both feet.  I have not gotten to my Wilderness Pepper Jelly yet, but it is coming soon.  I felt this recipe is definitely worth sharing and I wish I had some pictures to tantalize your taste buds.  My husband wasn’t sure what to think the 1st time I made the Wilderness Pepper Jelly.

I enjoyed having my Wilderness Pepper Jelly on a bagel or toast with cream cheese.  He tried it and definitely liked it, but it became so much more in our home.  It was used as jelly, as a condiment or topping for our elk and venison, it was added to the frying pan while cooking up our meats, added to our chilly to add a little heat and so much more…

The Wilderness Pepper Jelly can be made to your preferred heat and does not even have to be hot.  A mild Wilderness Pepper Jelly is still very tasty on many things and if you have never tried it, it is a must try.   Blessings…

Trayer Wilderness Hot Pepper Jelly
Recipe Type: jelly, condiment, sauce
Author: Tammy Trayer
Not just jelly…. Use with all your meats for an amazing flavor booster….
  • 4 cups of prepared peppers (about 2 med red bell peppers, 2 med green bell peppers and 2 med yellow peppers)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • 1 box of fruit pectin (either Ball or SureJell)
  • We add 4 to 6 habanero peppers & 4 jalapeno peppers as well to our mixture.
  1. Stem and halve peppers, discarding seeds. (Be sure to wear gloves if you are working with hot peppers) Finely chop. Add vinegar to prepared peppers in an 8 quart saucepan, gradually stir in the fruit pectin. Add up to 1/2 tsp of butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
  3. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, one at a time, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Clean rim and threads of jars using a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue. Add hot, dried lids to the jar. Apply bands and twist tight.
  4. Enjoy…


Dandelion Salad With Hot Bacon Dressing

Dandelion Salad With Hot Bacon Dressing

The common dandelion is looked upon by most as a weed and an annoyance, but dandelion should be looked upon as a garden green high in vitamins A, C, E and B complex, iron, calcium, and potassium as well.  We enjoy dandelion salads, cooked greens and our most favorite is a dandelion salad topped with hot bacon dressing.

All parts of the common dandelion are edible.  The younger the plant the less bitter the greens.  You can mix the greens in a blender with tomato juice for a cold drink high in vitamins.  For those of you with spicy taste buds you could also add Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco sauce or the Trayer Wilderness Hot Sauce.  It makes a pale yellow wine, is great in tea and makes an amazing jelly.

The plant is known for it’s many medicinal purposes as well.  It has been used to treat liver, urinary tract and digestive problems.  The roots have been reported to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, to lower blood pressure, to reduce inflammation, to have anti-microbial effects and to aid weight loss.  This is just a few useful tidbits on the common dandelion, but I highly suggest that you try it in your salads, teas and especially with the hot bacon dressing below…   Blessings….

Hot Bacon Dressing
Recipe Type: Dressing
Author: Klinger & Trayer Families
Hot Bacon Dressing is best on dandelion greens, but works well on any greens
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 3/4 C vinegar
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 LB of cooked and crumbled bacon (more if you so choose)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and heat on the stove while stirring and thickening.
  2. Pour over fresh dandelion, mix well and enjoy…