The idea of cooking a delicious meal just by using the power of the sun is enticing, and GoSun Go is making it happen with its line of solar ovens. We’ve talked about the design before and checked them out at CES, but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to get our hands on one of these bad boys to test it out. From veggie burgers and baked sweet potato to mixed-berry muffins, coffee and oatmeal, we tried cooking a wide variety of foods in this portable, solar-powered oven. Here’s what happened.
Setting up the GoSun Go
When we removed the GoSun Go from the box, we were a little surprised by how simple it looked. It features a basic fabric case plus a plastic kickstand that admittedly felt a bit flimsy. The glass tube, however, was sturdy, and we liked the small silicone molds that hold food for easy clean-up.
Cooking in the cold
We scheduled to cook outside on what was supposed to be a warm, sunny day. In a surprising twist, especially for L.A., we ended up with a chilly breeze and rain. Still, we trekked outside, solar oven tucked under an arm, and set up to boil water to make instant coffee and banana nut oatmeal. The trick to heating liquids in the GoSun Go is to stand the oven up vertically using the plastic kickstand attachment. It is also important to try to line the oven up with the sun, which was of course hard on a mostly cloudy day. During one of our rounds of gently rotating the oven for more light, the kickstand did give out — the plastic attachment is not very sturdy.
After about 100 or so minutes, condensation was visible on the glass and the water was nearly hot. Granted, we did this in cloudy, rainy weather, so it makes sense that it took so long. Still, it did make the water hot enough to make coffee and oatmeal that were both tolerable; the oatmeal was a bit chewy, but it did cook a little bit from the water we had warmed up in the solar cooker.
If you were camping, hiking or participating in some other outdoor adventure, the GoSun Go is not your best bet in clouds and rain. While it does work, be ready to set an hour or more aside, as it takes a lot of time. Luckily, in optimal conditions, the GoSun Go is really impressive.
Putting the solar oven through the ultimate tests
Our next set of tests took place on a warm, sunny SoCal day. We had multiple ovens, so we decided to test as many foods as possible, from fresh and frozen veggies, to savory, plant-based proteins and sweet, berry-flavored muffins.
In one oven, we tested a frozen veggie patty in one silicone mold, and fresh sweet potatoes and frozen broccoli and cauliflower in the other. In the second oven, to appease some of the meat-eaters with us, we tested ground beef in one mold and fresh broccoli and canned corn in another. For the last oven, we placed two silicone molds full of instant berry muffin mix (which just required water, an easy treat to make while camping). Each oven can hold two of the silicone molds at once.
After about 25 minutes, the muffins had risen considerably, and there was condensation on the inside of the ovens’ glass tubes. We also noticed around this time that the light breeze was enough to topple the ovens, knocking them away from the sun.
At the 34-minute mark, the muffins were just about ready to eat. The frozen veggies were done cooking, and the sweet potato was close to being finished. The veggie patty needed a bit longer, and the beef was brown but not finished either. We also rotated the ovens at this point for more direct sunlight.
We checked everything again at one hour, and it was all cooked! Some things, of course, were a bit overcooked at this point. There was some charring (the tasty kind), and it all smelled delicious. The gross part, though, is that the beef juices leaked out onto the cloth carrier, which was quite difficult to remove.
As far as taste goes, we were impressed. The veggies, whether frozen, fresh or canned, were all soft and delicious. Some of the broccoli and potatoes had nice charring for extra flavor, similar to roasting veggies in a standard oven. The veggie patty was a bit dry on the outside, likely from overcooking on our part, but the inside was a little wet. It didn’t seem to cook evenly in this regard. The muffins were pretty yummy despite being a little dry.
Many of the items we tested were chosen based on the booklet included with the GoSun Go. This booklet offers expected cook times for many types of food, which we found were a tad optimistic, yet not completely off. Another claim of this solar oven is that it can hold six hot dogs. After getting a look at the GoSun Go, we thought, “No way! Too small!”…So naturally, we put it to the test.
Guess what? You really can cook for a crowd, even with this small oven, because we were able to jam six hot dogs into it. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. We placed the oven under a bright, full sun, and they should have taken 10 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes, they were darker, but our resident meat-eater found that they really could have stayed in for even longer. If you wanted to try just one or two hot dogs, they would probably cook in 10-15 minutes, but jamming six into the tube does require quite a bit more time.
All in all, the GoSun Go is pretty impressive. If you have access to a traditional oven or a campfire, we’d recommend cooking through those means. But the solar oven is handy, especially for times when you are hiking, camping or boating and you cannot start a fire. We also plan to take it to the beach! If you need to cook a lot of food, you might try checking out a bigger solar oven, as this model can only make a small batch of food at a time. For $139 a pop, it also might not be practical to purchase multiple. For solo trips, this can cook some pretty complex, flavorful meals that you might not otherwise be able to enjoy. We say — give it a go!
Images via GoSun