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Solar Mint Tea
1 gallon water
several sprigs of freshly picked and washed mint
Crush the mint slightly before adding it to the water. Leave in sun all day. A jar can be painted black to increase temperature and keep an "off taste" from forming.
1 gallon water
2 to 3 teaspoons loose tea or tea bags
Pour water into gallon jar. Add tea into a tea ball and drop into a gallon jar. Place a lid onto the jar loosely (to allow more expansion while the jar heats) and place the jar on the cardboard sun reflector facing the sun. Set tea in sun all day and then cool it overnight outdoors (this keeps the tea from becoming bitter).
Tip - using the black painted jar and sun reflector increases the amount of heat generated in the jar and prevents photochemical reactions from giving the tea an off flavor - which occurs when sunlight shines directly on the tea.
The off taste that develops sometimes is caused by growth of bacteria and this is a danger in the classic "sun tea" which sits outside all day at modest temperatures. Bring the brew (both water and herbs used) to pasteurizing temperature by a short solar box exposure before setting it in the sun simple reflector. Or the tea can be brewed completely inside the solar box cooker.
SharonID's Solar Coffee
You can make great solar coffee in a black cooking (canning) jar! No, it won't be ready at sunup, but if you want coffee for a midmorning or afternoon break or for lunch or brunch, it is easy to do when the sun is shining (and if you strain off the grounds and refrigerate any remaining coffee, leftover coffee would still be good reheated the next morning). Making coffee in a cooking jar really preserves subtle flavors that often end up floating in the air instead of landing in your cup.
Put 4 rounded tablespoons of coffee in a quart cooking jar (or 8 in a half-gallon jar, or 2 in a pint jar). Fill the jar with water to within about half an inch of the top, being careful to moisten the coffee grounds in the process (but don't stir). Close the jar, bag or cover if using a panel cooker, and set it to cook. If you are sure that rain or dew during the night won't hurt your cooker, you can put it out before you go to bed, pointing the cooker just a little south of east to catch the first rays (then, when you wake up, adjust the cooker as needed). When the coffee is steaming hot (try not to let it reach a full boil—around 190F is plenty, if you're using a thermometer) and slight agitation causes the grounds to settle to the bottom, it is done. Pour through a strainer or filter and enjoy a great cup of coffee. My husband loves waking up to fresh solar coffee on the weekends when he sleeps a little late.
This would also work with similar proportions in a black lidded pot, but I think the canning jar lid keeps in more of the volatile flavor components.
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