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Sun Oven Sunday – Saltine Crackers? (Not Exactly)

The sun finally cooperated long enough for me to use my sun oven again. This time I wanted to try making saltine crackers. While I wasn’t expecting crackers like I get from the store, I was expecting something a bit better than what came out of the oven when I decided it wasn’t getting any better. Long story short, the “crackers” came out quite rubbery in texture so I popped them in my Excalibur dehydrator for a few hours hoping that would help, and it did.

The ingredients are about as basic as you can get:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used regular flour)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 cup water

Directions:  Mix flour and salt together. Cut or rub in shortening. Stir in water until mixture is smooth and runny. Pour onto a very lightly greased (or teflon coated) cookie sheet with sides. Spread thin. Bake 3-5 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven, cut to size and shape desired. Return to oven and bake 3-5 minutes longer. Set aside to cool and dry out.

This is what it looks like (to the right) after being mixed together and spread out into the accessory pans you can get with your sun oven (these pans seem very durable, by the way). As the mixture was essentially the same as pancake batter, it was relatively easily to spread out, although, I could have used a spatula to even it out a bit better than I did.

I made the assumption that both of these pans would fit properly in the sun oven (I haven’t tried using them both before this) and found out the hard way that they both don’t fit, so I stacked them as shown (left). That wasn’t such a big deal as the sun oven generally heats the same throughout (well, almost).

As I pre-heated the oven before use (got to about 325 degrees) I let the cracker mixture sit for several minutes and then rotated the pans and, as it was still obviously mushy, I waited another several minutes before removing them. After removal, I could tell it was starting to hold together so I cut them and flipped (the instructions didn’t say to flip) and let cook for another ten minutes, at least.

After noticing quite a bit of condensation on the glass, and having let the crackers cook for more than twice as long as the directions say so (in large part because the temps were off) I decided it wasn’t going to get any better; I removed the crackers and noticed they were quite rubbery in texture (think laffy taffy) so I let them sit for at least an hour to see if they would harden up. They didn’t. As I had put the sun oven away for the day I figured it couldn’t hurt to dry them out in the dehydrator for a while. That worked pretty good, however, I figure the sun oven would have worked better and faster.

How did they taste? Well, they weren’t my favorite saltine crackers I’m accustomed to. (I even tried to poke some holes in them with a fork for visual appearance.)  That said, they weren’t half bad. I could imagine eating them if I had no other option. I would have prefered they were a little less dense and more fluffy and risen as saltines are. Maybe some baking soda added would make them rise? I also think I might have actually made them too thick, though, it certainly didn’t feel like it when I was spreading the mixture out. I might add salt after spreading out the mixture too.

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