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Preserving the harvest is important if you want to get the full benefit from all of your hard work in the garden. DIY Solar food dehydrators are easy to make and they can work extremely well. Having a food dehydrator enables you to get the full benefits from not only what you grow yourself, but also from buying and storing food you find in bulk at a bargain.
Dehydrating food is one of the oldest ways of preserving the bounty from your garden and it’s a method that doesn’t require any electricity. Dehydrated foods can be eaten as-is after drying but many are soaked in water prior to cooking to improve their texture and flavor.
Dehydrated vegetables are commonly used in soups and casseroles, allowing for summer flavors and nutrients to be kept in the diet long after the garden has been put to bed for the year.
Instant Solar Food Dehydrator
All you need to do is put trays of the food that you want to dehydrate inside your car on a warm day.
Place the trays up on the top of the dash and let the sun get to work.
Place a thermometer in the car with your trays so that you can keep an eye on the temperature. if it gets too warm in there, open a window. Very high temperatures will destroy the enzymes in the food and its nutritional content will be greatly reduced.
You can read up on temperature requirements for dehydrating food here.
Do you know what else a car is really useful for on a sunny day? It makes an ideal spot for bread dough to rise!
Make Your Own Solar Food Dehydrators
Solar food dehydrators are easy enough to make. This great video shows you exactly what to do, to make a DIY solar food dehydrator.
One thing that I really like about this design is that it is so incredibly simple and very cheap to make!
You Could Even Use An Old Fridge!
Giving a new purpose to broken down fridges that would otherwise end up in the dump, is an excellent way to to get yourself a food dehydrator. As the fridge is insulated, the dehydrator will stay at a warm temperature for longer.
The video below shows you one way to do this. If you make it so that the heat unit is demount-able then you can use it as a solar furnace as described above.
Cardboard Box Food Dehydrator
For cheap and easy DIY solar food dehydrators, this option is very quick, easy and cheap to make – but it’s much less durable than the others. Still, it’s a good way to try out drying food and it makes an interesting project for kids too. All you need are cardboard boxes, tape and plastic wrap.
This homemade solar food dehydrator cannot be left outdoors, because obviously if it gets wet it will become useless. So you will need space to store it indoors.
Made from two cardboard boxes, some clear plastic wrap, and a little tape. You can build a nearly free solar dehydrator. Set it on a stool or chair and face it’s solar collector towards the sun, and you have a functional food preservation machine for little work and even less money. The instructions for this DIY Solar Dehydrator are below the image.
The above picture almost says it all. Using a long thin cardboard box for the collector and a taller, nearly square, cardboard box for the drying box. Boxes could be made to size by cutting and taping together small cardboard pieces. Line the bottom of the collector box with a black plastic garbage bag or paint the bottom with black, water based, poster paint. Lamp black or soot mixed with a little vegetable oil would work as well.
NOTE: If you use spray paint or other toxic paints, let the collector bake in the sun for a day or two before use.
- Cover the top of the collector with clear plastic wrap or window glass, etc.
- Tape it together as shown.
- To increase the efficiency, you may want to cover the sides and bottom of both boxes with fiberglass or styrofoam insulation.
Drawing courtesy of: Mother’s Energy Efficiency Book Copyright 1983 ISBN 0-938-43205. From http://www.jrwhipple.com/sr/soldehydrate.html
Buy A Food Dehydrator
OK, so you are not a bit handy or just don’t want to be fluffing around? Check out y page with reviews of the best dehydrators along with tios and recipes here: Best Food Dehydrators
Remember to leave a comment below – let me know of your own DIY food dehydrator experiences!