Dashboard Cooking

The outdoor temperature was 95°F, and the temperature in the jar was 200°F.

I read a car shade advertisement that stated if it is 95°F outside, then the temperature on my dashboard would be 180°F.    I put a thermometer on my dash and kept track of the temperatures all summer and found the ad was accurate.

Then I put the thermometer in a jar and watched keep track of the temperatures.   I was not home to check my outdoor thermometer for this study, so I used Weather Underground to get the outdoor temperatures.

I used Weather Station: East Hemet (Park Hill Area), Hemet
Latitude: 33.7°N, Elevation: 1626 ft

Cooking on a car dashboard on a clear sunny day.
I “cooked” a thermometer in an empty 2-quart canning jar.
The peak outdoor temperature that day was 102°F at 2:13-3:51.  I am sure the temp inside the jar would have stayed at 225°F for at least two hours, but I needed to pick up my husband from work.  This experiment was done at Hemet McDonald’s while my son had a play date.

12:30pm 110°F in the jar, 100°F outdoors
01:40pm 225°F, 100°F

Cooking on a car dashboard on a clear sunny day.
I “cooked” a thermometer in an empty 2-quart canning jar.
The peak outdoor temperature was 95°F at 1:27pm-3:58pm.  I am sure the jar would have stayed at 200°F for at least two hours if I started the experiment sooner, but I needed to drive to a play date before I could start this study.

01:15pm 100°F on dash, 94°F outdoors, placed thermometer on dash
01:20pm 125°F in jar, 94°F outdoors, placed thermometer in jar
02:00pm 200°F, 94°F outdoors
03:30pm 200°F, 95°F
04:55pm 180°F, 92°F

* * *

The following was NOT from my dashboard.  I am posting this so you can see the comparison.

I spent a whole day dutifully checking the time and temps.   It was a lot of work, but armed with this data I knew I could cook in a jar when my solar oven was only at 150°F.  I tried it a week after the following experiment and the food was slightly overcooked because I thought it would need a lot more time!

Cooking in my reflectorless box cooker on a clear sunny day.
I “cooked” a thermometer in an empty 2-quart canning jar.
The peak outdoor temperature was 96°F at 2:56pm-4:30pm.

10:15 am 100°F inside the jar, 79°F outdoors
10:45 am 200°F, 83°F outdoors
11:30 am 225°F, 87°F
12:00 pm 240°F, 89°F
12:30 pm 250°F, 92°F
01:00 pm 258°F, 93°F
01:30 pm 267°F, 93°F
02:00 pm 275°F, 95°F
02:30 pm 276°F, 95°F
03:00 pm 276°F, 96°F
03:30 pm 276°F, 95°F
04:00 pm 275°F, 95°F
04:30 pm 263°F, 96°F Indoor temp rose to 84°F. Turned on a/c to 82°F
05:00 pm 250°F, 95°F
05:30 pm 220°F, 93°F Oven is mostly in shade. It could be moved into the sun, but that is not convenient.
06:00 pm 170°F, 92°F Oven in full shade.
06:30 pm 140°F, 89°F

* * *

Update August 29, 2012 – Since these experiments I have made many solar baked potatoes, cookies and hard boiled eggs on the dash of my car.    I generally do this on a park day where I know I can park the car facing south for 3 hours.    I keep the condiments and other picnic yum-yums in a homemade cooler.

Additional Resources

I was inspired to explore dashboard cooking by these hilariously creative people:

Arizona Dashboard Cooking by Clay Villanueva

Cooking an Egg on the Dashboard!  (I appreciate her flare for fine cooking. but wish she wasn’t a potty mouth.  This the beginning of a series.  Watch the whole series for some inspiration.)

Another reason for dashboard cooking is if you need to keep your solar cooked meal locked in the car due to children or animals that will insist on messing with the solar oven.  I know several moms that would love to solar cook, but are having trouble with curious kids and dogs.   My solar oven is high off the ground due to cats that are attracted to the smell of cooking meat.

I always thought it would nice to have a meal cooking on my dash while I am away from home.   Then enjoy it picnic-style at a park instead of opting for fast food.    So far I have solar baked potatoes for a small picnic feast.   Next will be quiche because eggs are so easy to solar cook.


About Hemet Sunshine

I am a homeschooling mom living in Hemet, California. I am interested in building a better community for the ones I love.
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