The Sun: it rises each day unpaid and taken for granted. Few places in the world are as blessed with such richness of Sunlight as Southern Africa, and to say that South Africans like to Braai is a colossal understatement. We are obsessed with braaing – something about being outside in our beautiful climate with friends and family, hatching adventure plans or discussing recent adventures and generally having a good time makes us feel right at home.
Eight years ago a small company called SunFire solutions decided to look into solar cooking. At the time no one had heard of it; “a solar what?” was the most common response. Sunfire has come a long way since then and most people have now heard of it. Over the last two years, they have been introducing a more efficient model of solar cooker that compares with gas for cooking times.
People get all kinds of strange ideas when it comes to Solar Cooking. One of these ideas is that food takes very long to cook. Not with these ovens. Solar Cookers have been developed over the past 80 years but only in the past 5 years are there designs that are portable and powerful enough to cook at a speed most of us are accustomed to.
Boil a litre of water in 6 minutes
SunFire Solar Cookers or “Dishes” come in two sizes suited to home use: SunFire12, a1.2m Dish, and SunFire15, a 1.5m Dish. The SunFire15 is optimal for solar skottle braais with friends, delivering twice the power of a SunFire12. Both models can easily do the job; it just depends on how much of a hurry you are in.
The heat is immediate (between 220- 300°c) so fry-ups for breakfast and afternoon braais are totally possible. The SunFire15 boils a litre of water in 6 minutes, SunFire12 in 12-15 minutes, similar to cooking on gas or fire but cleaner and more fun.
These dishes are ideal for Potjies and just need aligning with the sun every 20-30 minutes for maximum performance. They can be assembled and disassembled in 20 minutes and are portable. Weighing only 12-16kg, they can easily fit into the back of any car. Lifespans are at least five years, although a simple and inexpensive recoating can help your Solar Cooker last forever.
Solar braais start at R1500
Here’s a nifty gift for dad – a solar braai for R1500.
SunFire has limited stock of Solar Ovens before beginning local production of the SunFire SOUL in 2013. Solar Ovens last a lifetime and are ideal for baking bread, cakes and roasting or slow cooking meals.
Solar Ovens don’t get hot enough to burn food, meaning you can put lunch or dinner out in the morning/afternoon and come home to a beautiful succulent meal at lunchtime/dinnertime. It’s as simple as that. Solar Ovens are ideal for busy lifestyles.
Suncook ovens are imported from the EU, and include a side mirror, pot, baking tray, sundial, recipe book and starter manual, making it easy to get started.
Ideally every home should have both models. Each one fulfills a different culinary/lifestyle role. Dishes are like stovetops, whereas ovens are, well, ovens. Both easily pay for themselves within a year of moderate use. Imagine your Christmas turkey cooked using Christmas day sunlight!
Save energy, save your pocket
Sunfire have put together two Christmas hampers, to make both affordable. The first hamper includes a SunFire15 and a SunCook Oven. This on special at R5000, as opposed to the R5700 it would usually cost for both. Delivery takes 4-5 working days and is R300. This hamper also includes a free solar-powered reading light.
The second hamper consists of a SunFire12 wood burning stove and a SunBag – allowing you to place half cooked food in the SunBag to finish cooking while you put on a second course. This is on special at R2000 (also including the free solar reading lamp). The standard price is R2500. Delivery is also 4-5 working days and costs R200.
If you would like to spoil yourself or a loved one with a sunny gift, simply send Sunfire an e-mail with “Christmas special” in the subject line – and SunFire will give you a 15% discount on any of their products. A high quality solar ovan easily pays for itself within a year and is the kind of gift you can leave to your children’s children.
These are quite simply the coolest braai’s in South Africa. Be a part of the solution, have fun and cook with the sun. This is South Africa, after all – let’s make the most of it.
Various Sunfire solar cooking demonstations around Gauteng. Source: SunFire on Facebook