Patrick Sherwin was working on solar hot water heaters in Africa when he looked down at one of the glass tubes involved in the thermal hot water process and got an idea. Maybe one of these can heat his lunch.
Not only did it heat up his food, the idea sparked a business. The resulting GoSun solar cookers convert a reported 80 percent of the sun’s rays into heat. With no fuel, its parabolic reflectors focus the sun’s rays toward the evacuated glass tubing, which can raise the temperature within up to 550 degrees.
Now that the products are on the market through the company’s web site, Sherwin leads GoSun Stove and GoSun Global, which funnels a portion of its resources to support businesses in the developing world.
There were probably a million products at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market convention this year in Salt Lake City, but one that especially caught my eye was this solar cooker. That’s why I was thrilled to hear from Matt with GoSun Solar soon after about trying out the GoSun Sport.
I went with the slightly smaller and lighter version of their full size oven, the GoSun Grill with the thought of using it on my sailboat. On the boat, I am always looking to maximize space and improve efficiency so I figured a solar cooker was the perfect addition to my cooking arsenal. Other great applications could be car camping or on picnics. Ater testing the product my expectations were met with some minor restrictions.
For my test of the GoSun Sport, I started off by cooking chicken and vegetables. I cut up the chicken into small pieces, as the directions indicate, with both white and dark meat. I then cut up zucchini, mushrooms and carrots and tossed them with oil and seasoning.
The instructions says you don’t want to preheat the oven. It can actually damage the glass. Although it’s pretty thick and can reduce cracking, it’s not completely indestructible. The first thing I realize is that the GoSun cooking compartment is rather small. This will only be a meal for one.
I check on the stove about every 10 minutes. After about 30 minutes the meal is complete. The zucchini and mushrooms are cooked through. The carrots are still a bit hard and the chicken is as moist as ever. I would describe the cooking effect here as poaching due to how much steam gets trapped within the chamber. As white meat chicken goes, this is some of the juiciest I have ever tasted.
For the next test I pan-seared larger chicken pieces and then stuck them into the GoSun cooker on the roof of my apartment for an hour as I would a conventional oven. When I came back up the chicken was thoroughly cooked. But I could only do about a quarter chicken at a time this way. For a larger cooking area there is always the GoSun Grill, which is about twice the size.
The next thing I wanted to try were brownies. These came with mixed results. Realizing that the cooker puts off quite a bit of steam, I questioned whether this would work. I poured a ready-made brownie mixture into the compartment and pointed it toward the sun.
I checked on the brownies periodically and everything looked fine. They were starting to cook toward the opening, which meant the inner portion was probably even hotter. After about 40 minutes I pulled the tray out completely. I found the batter had shifted downhill toward the opening which left the inner side burned.
This made for mediocre brownies. But I’m sure I could figure something out to fix this. More importantly, I now had brownie mix on the inside of the tube. For this, I used the cleaning brush specially designed for the GoSun which comes with every order. Fitting at the end of the tray, you can use the handle to run the brush through the tube, pulling out any debris.
All-in-all, the GoSun cooker worked great as long as you stick with small, single-person portions, cook at the height of the day and choose carefully what you cook. I could also see this stove working well as an adjunct to some other cooking method. You could poach fish in the cooker, roast vegetables on the barbecue and cook rise on the stove top.
The GoSun Sport sells for $279 and can be purchased at GoSunStove.com.