The following instructions need to be followed for raw animal products. Beans, grains and vegetables can be left unrefrigerated for a little longer. Make sure to read the food safety guidelines located in the additional resources section.
I put raw meat in when I know the temperature will reach 200°F in an hour. Depending on the time of year that can be as early as 8am-11am. Raw meats go from the refrigerator to 180°F degrees within 1-2 hours. Cooking begins at 180°F. I begin by leaving refrigerated food on the counter for almost an hour, then put it into the solar oven that has reached 150°F. As long as it is a clear sunny day, I know it will reach 200°F within the hour.
I invited friends and neighbors to taste this solar cooked chicken. I wish I had videotaped of my neighbors concerns about food poisoning and then the surprise over how yummy it was. It is a lot of fun watching the stunned expressions as they marvel over food cooked in a cardboard box. It was fun watching my neighbor take it out of the cooker for me. He was sure he wouldn’t need pot holders, but of course he did. And best of all, it is so much fun watching their faces the first time they tried food cooked in sunshine. Low and slow cooking allows the flavor to fully develop. This means extra yumminess.
Here is what I do for food safety. I pull food out of the refrigerator only an hour before it is going to be put in the cooker. When the food comes out of the cooker, I leave the leftovers on counter for about an hour before they go in the refrigerator.
If the cooker does not remain at above 180°F, then I pull it out. I either continue to cook it the conventional way or put it back in the refrigerator in an hour. The next day, it will be cooked thoroughly with solar or conventional cooking. Neither my friends nor my family have ever been sick from food cooked in a solar oven.
I strongly suggest you read about food safety.
For safe drinking water you need to heat it to 160°F. The Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) is a clever device that is easy to use and reusable. It takes the guess work out of pasteurization.
You can make your own WAPI. I have instructions that I will post as soon as I find them.