We have received a lot of questions about the right cookware to use with SolSource, and the quick answer is: you can use almost anything! (See our FAQs for what won’t work). But just like on a traditional stove, there is lots of room for nuance depending on what you want to cook and how you want to do it. We hope this quick guide can help you choose the right tool for your next solar cooked meal.
1. Use cookware with a matte- or dark-colored bottom.
SolSource aims plenty of power at your pot, but if that pot has a nice polished stainless steel base, it will reflect much of the sunlight right back towards the Sun – just like a mirror. In fact, using cookware with a “matte” surface on the bottom is far more important than the particular color. To see why, take a look at how much light from the laser pen is absorbed or reflected by the three items in our demo video below:
Black-bottomed pans are the best choice. But as you can see from the demo, the difference between the light reflection on black and white business cards is much smaller than the difference between the white card and the shiny stainless steel.
2. Use aluminum for frying, grilling, and solid foods
Surprisingly enough, aluminum is by far the best common material for distributing heat evenly across the surface of your cookware. More so than a traditional stove, SolSource focuses a lot of heat in the center of your cookware, so the good heat distribution of aluminum makes it the best choice for solid foods that are grilled or cooked with a little bit of oil. In these situations you may often be cooking in large batches, and you don’t want a piece to burn or undercook at any one spot on the pan.
3. Use cast iron or steel for very high temperatures or liquid-based foods
If you’re really looking for something that stays hot, get a nice thick cast iron pan. This is definitely the way to go if, for example, you’re planning on stewing or baking something for an hour and a half at 350 ºF. The thicker the pan, the more energy it can store. If you are looking to sear something quickly, cast iron is also a good choice, as it can achieve very high temperatures right in its center. Finally, cast iron or steel works well for liquid based techniques and foods such as stews, sauces, braising, steaming, and boiling, as the material helps hold the heat better.
4. Use the SolSource Classic Grill Pan
The SolSource Classic Grill Pan is made from thick cast aluminum, anodized with a matte finish on the bottom for solar absorbance, and coated with a ceramic non-stick layer on top. If you flip the SolSource pot stand over, it fits snugly in the ring. When using the SolSource Classic Grill Pan to grill, we recommend adding a little bit of vegetable oil to help spread the heat from from the ridges to the food.
What is your favorite cookware for SolSource? If you have any experiences with using different types of cookware on SolSource, we would love to hear about it. Please leave your comment below.