Summer smells different, even an Irish summer. Sun tan lotion, children playing outside until dark, cut grass, and of course, there’s the aroma of the barbecue. For a country who often endure more than one season on an average Summer’s day, we love to cook outdoors. This Summer though, I’m putting my BBQ skills to work in a different way, and using the power of a reluctant sun to get things sizzling.
The GoSun Sport Solar Oven is a well designed, sleek piece of kit that doesn’t need charcoal or gas, using only the light of the sun to cook your food.. Unpacking it reveals the device’s long ‘cooking tube’ of two feet with two parabolic mirrors that reflect the suns rays on to the tube. Inside the glass tube is the removable cooking tray with a silicone seal and wooden handle. The mirrors fold up neatly minimising the space required to transport the BBQ in the car-boot or for storage when you’re not using it with clever stainless steel handles protruding at the top of the device.
Assembly is easy and within ten minutes I had the unit assembled and ready to go. It’s easy to carry and weighs just over 3 kilos. I found the best way of setting it up outside was on a garden-table but the integrated legs are sturdy enough to just place it on the ground if you’re at the beach or away from home. Once placed securely on a surface I arranged it towards sun so the rays are caught by the reflective mirrors.
The technology that GoSun use is the same principle as the evacuated tube system used for water heating systems and is both proven technically and incredibly effective. The inner cooking tray can be pulled out for loading and initially I thought looked a little small to cater for the appetites of my hungry and dubious guests. I was wrong though, as stuffed it full of prawns of chicken for four people. The capacity of the tray is almost 1.5 Kgs of food and if you’re cooking liquid based dishes, it’s liquid capacity 1.2 Litres.
GoSun make other models of the solar oven, including a mini model ideal for hot-dogs and a huge grill, that should feed eight people, but the Sport model seems the optimum for family day outs or a Friday evening in the garden.
The BBQ begins to heat up immediately and will operate up to around 280 degrees C. You can pull out the tray as you cook to check on progress and you notice that the cooking is even and no need to move the food around as it cooks evenly throughout the tube. The cooking time would be shortened by a good sunny day but the chicken and prawns were perfectly cooked in around 30 minutes.
Meat took around three quarters of an hour to reach a ‘medium to well done’ state but as the weather brightened up, garlic and peppers roasted even quicker. GoSun say that the device can grill, bake, broil and fry and certainly the most curious experiment I did was making a huge omelette that cooked perfectly and remarkably quickly.
It works exactly as designed but I would like to see a slightly larger capacity as you do need to cut or prepare food to ensure you fit it all in, rather than just laying it all on the grill. The device certainly isn’t flimsy, but an optional anchoring system would be useful to ensure the BBQ stays safely in place in case of bumps or if you’re cooking outside on a windy day.
It’s more expensive than a traditional small BBQ but the technology makes this price almost justifiable. You don’t need charcoal, you won’t end up with charred food and there’s a wonderful convenience to having this in your boot as you head out in to the country on a Sunday morning. You don’t even need a perfect Summer’s day to end the trip with a decent meal. Good job.
More info: gosunstove.com