Introduction: Solar Dim Sim Steamer

About: team humanity lamingtons for lemmings left wing solar cooking challenge

This is a simple solar steamer.
Consider it to be your outside sunny day planet saver.
Get your Vitamin D, and steamed solar dim sims cooked for free!

Faster than a microwave.

More powerful than an open fire

Pasteurise and sterillise with concentrated sunlight, over 80 degrees Celcius your food and liquids are safe to eat.

At NO ENERGY COST apart from walking outside.

Step 1: Step 1: You Will Need

This solar steamer is constructed from SPECIFIC items to maximise usable and retained heat.

1. Borosilicate casserole dish with lid

2. Black ceramic plate

3. Cast iron trivet, tray or rack

4. Thermometer

5. Pot holder

6. Experimental optional reflector wok on a bowl

The black ceramic plate sits inside the casserole dish

In this case I have put a large plate that sits close to the lid, because steam rises, and the closer the plate is to the lid with the contents, the faster the contents cook.

The cast iron trivet sits inside the casserole dish on the ceramic plate.
The thermometer is inside on the trivet from the start.
Put the lid on, place the casserold dish in the pot stand in the focal area of your mirrors or reflectors on a reflective base

In this case I have placed the casserole dish on a pot stand at the focal area of a 2 mirrors and a wok which has mylar foil stuck to it. The focal point of the wok is half its height as it is a 2 x parabola.
The wok is sitting on a large stainless steel bowl, making it easy to adjust and rotate smoothly during the day from morning to afternoon, which means the mirrors can stay fixed in place from midday into the afternoon.
Just swivel the wok anti clockwise to follow the sun, or set 10 minutes ahead.

Step 2: Step 2: Preheat Dry Casserole Dish Ceramic Plate and Trivet

It is necessary to create a sterile environment for cooking.
As soon as you place a frozen or cold item into the cooker, the area of contact between those items and the metals is a potential contamination zone, that being underneath may be the slowest to reach a safe temperature.
Therefore it is ALWAYS necessary to preheat your cooking utensils before cooking.
In the case of the solar steamer, it is faster to preheat dry.
When Thermometer is 80 degrees C to 100 degrees C it is safe to start cooking.
When water is added and creates steam and condensation, the condensation on the sides reflects sunlight and transfers heat back to the surface.

This means that water in the steamer creates a lower cooking temperature.
The pay off is that steam speeds up the internal cooking process, so that the trade off works just fine. A dry cast iron trivet will heat to 150 degrees C A dry black ceramic plate will heat up a little less because it has contact with the glass casserole dish. When you are ready to add dim sum or dim sims or any item to steam, have the water you need for the steamer on hand at the same time, so you are only opening the lid once. Pour water onto the trivet and ceramic plate, keeping the water depth to half a centimetre, and below the base of the trivet. Place items to be steamed in a single layer on the trivet, up to but not touching the lid. Put the lid on as soon as possible to retain heat, and start steaming. Adjust the casserole dish in the pot stand or the wok to make it all level. Slide or swivel to centre of concentrated sunlight focal area.

1. The Pot Stand stays at the focal area.

I can lift the casserole dish out of the pot stand with oven mits to work on the contents away from the focal area
By leaving the pot stand at the precise focal area, when I put the dish back I don't have to shuffle it around to find the focal area again.

2. The Pot Stand elevates the base of the casserole dish, reducing heat loss to a flat base.
Concentrated sunlight reflects and refracts into the casserole dish from the base and sides.
This is particularly useful in the wok because the focal area is elevated half the height of the wok.

3. I prefer to work with the casserole dish or multiple utensils on a flat table top when adding items and water.
This means that when I am working closely with the pot, I don't have my face hands, in the focal area of the cooker.
I am also not casting a shadow over the focal area or squinting from reflected sunlight from the mirrors.
4. With children grandchildren pets and unexpected happenings all the time, it is best to be in the habit of restricting access to the reflector area as much as possible.
5. Keeping the food preparation area separate delineates the reflector area as a 'stove, oven, cooktop', rather than a utensil.
5. Insist that anyone going near the reflectors wears UV protector sunglasses, and preferably welding sunglasses, and uses oven mits, so that when they reach into the concentrated sunlight zone, any part of the area of more than 1 x sunlight, that is the entire reflector area, they must have protective covering and long sleeves on, so that they are not getting a double triple or mega dose of concentrated sunlight, sunburn and skin cancer.
Our friends who have been surfers, just from being out on the water in the sunshine have a higher incidence of skin cancers, and cancers on the retina of their eyes because of the increase damage from reflection off water.
The increase reflection and refraction of heat from mirrors and aluminium surfaces is much more dangerous than being on the water, so PLEASE be careful and be sunsmart.
Cooking outside there are always additional hazards to contend with.

Step 3: Step 3: Steam Your Dim Sims Cooking Time

Your steam dim sims will need the Thermometer stuck into the middle of one of the dim sims to check they have reached the right temperature.
This can be done by placing the thermometer in for the whole cooking process, or using a cooking thermometer to skewer your dim sim or formerly frozen item to the middle and checking that it is cooked through to at least 80 degrees C in the middle.
Have a slotted spoon or slide ready to lift your dim sims out as fast as possible so you can replace the lid to keep the internal temperature and steam going.

Cloud cover, wind chill, humidity, smog, size of mirrors, positioning will all vary the time taken for your dim sims to reach optimum cooking temperature.
You can tell by the smell of the steam eminating from the casserole dish that your items are 'ready'.

I use two large mirrors, about 750 cms square set at right angles and a foil insulation base on the table or the wok with mylar foil lining to speed up cooking.
From 11 am to 3 pm once the steamer is pre heated, it should only take 5 to 10 minutes to thoroughly steam cook dim sum, dim sims or dumplings.
One block frozen meals straight from the freezer that might have been at -15 degrees C are going to take a bit more time to come up to the right temperature in the middle, so allow 20 minutes at least.


It really is best to get in the habit of being FOODSAFE.
Be safe rather than food poisoned by sticking the thermometer into the middle of a dim sim to MAKE SURE its over 80 degrees C and for some diners they may require that its over 100 degrees C that is over boiling point before they will even consider eating it.
If you are catering for people it is a health requirement in Australia that you check the food is a safe temperature to serve.
The contents of the steamer will stay sterile and safe to eat if the entire casserole dish is moved to a serving area without being opened.
If you are transfering food to plates or other containers, the allowable time for it to cool without being refrigerated is 2 hours.

Step 4: