Owning a solar cooker is one of life’s most gratifying (cookery) moments. You’re saving money on fuel bills, the cooker pays for itself over a short period of time, you’re not harming the environment - and you’re still making mouthwatering meals that even the most enthusiastic gas-friendly chef would be envious of. Your friends who own stunning range cookers agree that you’re definitely one to watch, and your stews are legendary. Looks like all your cooking needs have been met - until you need to clean it.
“I don’t want to use chemicals!” you wail. “You don’t have to!” we reply. There are ways to clean your cooker in an environmentally-friendly way - all you need are a few household bits and bobs, and some elbow grease.
Vinegar: This fish and chip accompaniment, when mixed with water, is a hugely-effective cleaner. Mix equal quantities of each into a spray bottle, and away you go. This wonder product will get rid of smells, stains and grease, as it’s a disinfectant as well as a deodorant. You will need to scrub fairly hard to get rid of tough stains (this can be fairly annoying when you have a solar cooker with numerous parts), but it will leave it with a stunning shine. A word to the wise - always test any vinegar solution on an unseen surface before you start cleaning, as it can tarnish some materials. For extra-stubborn grease, feel free to add more vinegar to the mix, but don’t add too much - it’s acidic, and can eat away at surfaces if used undiluted.
Lemon juice: Good with pancakes, great with honey, brilliant on cookers that have seen their fair share of action. Like vinegar, lemon juice mixed with water is a safe, dependable cleaning fluid that’ll bring a brilliant shine to your cooker, and restore it to its former glory. Add a water and lemon juice mix to a spray bottle for a quick cleaning solution that’s ideal for a quick wipe-down after cooking. Fancy taking on patches of grease that show no sign of shifting? Cut a lemon in half, add a dollop of baking soda onto its flat side, and go to town. Be careful that you don’t rub too hard - lemon acts as a bleach, and can damage surfaces if it’s used too frequently in its concentrated form.
Soft drinks: If you’ve recently had a party and been left with the usual plethora of soft drinks such as lemonade and soda water, these can be used to add a bit of sparkle to your cooker, as the mild acids in them can help to get rid of rust and stains. Just add a splash to a soft cloth, and wipe any hard-to-reach places around your cooker. Don’t forget that you have to remove any sticky residue left behind, so always finish off your cleaning session by wiping all surfaces down.
Baking soda: When it comes to shifting stains that you’ve given up on, baking soda is ideal. Apply a small sprinkle to a damp cloth, and gently work at stains, taking care not to damage the surface of your cooker. Like vinegar and lemon juice, you can add baking soda to water and spritz it on any dried food that won’t budge. Baking soda also gets rid of any nasty smells that may be lingering after a mammoth cooking session, so it’s great for post-celebratory meals that have left a lot of mess on your cooker.
Vicky Anscombe writes on behalf of Leisure Cooker, and has harboured dreams of becoming a master chef for many years. She mainly sticks to toast and pasta when left to fend for herself, which is a shame, as she knows how much fun can be had with a casserole dish and a roast chicken.