HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) – Heading out to your front yard to cook dinner in a solar oven isn’t something many people do, but two local women are hoping it catches on.
They call themselves the Solar Sisters. Mary Buchenic and Jennifer Gasser both share a passion for the unique method of cooking where the sun’s energy is used to heat food.
“Your fuel is the sun. You concentrate sunlight into a cooking space. You can make vegetables, grains, meats, soups and stews,” Buchenic said.
One type of oven is called a GoSun. You can cook just about anything in them, including breads and cakes, hot dogs, and even meatballs.
Buchenic said some people have concerns about safety with the gosun method of cooking, the ovens can reach temperatures of 400 degrees or higher. Most low setting crockpots top out at 200 degrees.
“We are always well above that. So, on a hazy or partly cloudy day, we can cook as if we are cooking in a crockpot,” Buchenic said.
Buchenic started solar cooking in the mid-1990s. She was a teacher at Niles City Schools and used it as part of a science lesson. She’s now retired and has turned her passion into a non-profit organization with Gasser.
The women started small, doing demonstrations in the community and working with local schools. Now, they want to share their passion with the world. They’ve been to Haiti on a mission trip and have plans to go back, and they say the solar ovens can help victims of the recent hurricanes who are living without electricity.
“We’ve got areas of the country right now that literally have no power, and maybe in that situation for days. This is an option for heating water,” Buchenic said. “In other parts of the world that are sun-rich, the applications are economic empowerment. There are health issues related to cooking over an open fire.”
You can purchase solar ovens, but there are certain types you can make at home that are more economical. The Solar Sisters have been doing educational presentations. You can find out more about that at their website Global Development Solutions.