|Build a Solar Food Dehydrator—Easy, Inexpensive, Detailed Plans|
|Thursday, 23 August 2012 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Article|
Who doesn’t love dried fruits and vegetables? There’s the extra sweetness and concentrated flavor. They can be eaten “as is” or reconstituted with water. They’re lightweight—easy to carry to class, to work or even around the world. And don’t forget their environmental friendliness: they can be stored nearly forever without refrigeration, they don’t need to be cooked to be enjoyed and, unlike so many other foods, they don’t come wrapped in excessive packaging (especially if you make them yourself).
Under the right conditions in the right climate, certain foods dehydrate naturally. But you can build your own food dehydrator to create favorable conditions wherever you are with the free plans below.
Raw vegans have a special appreciation because they believe, and scientific investigation bears out, that produce heated to no higher temperature than the sun would, retains its nutritional integrity and life force.
However, raw-fooders aren't the only people who enjoy using food dehydrators. Backpackers make lightweight soups, homesteaders make winter seasoning blends, naturalists dehydrate healing herbs, and some dads make mean all-fruit roll-ups.
There are many food dehydrators on the market, but by constructing one yourself, you can build it to your size specifications and make it completely off-grid.
If you like a lot of dried food, or like giving it away to friends, you should consider building a roof dehydrator. It’s fun to assemble, easy to use, and is powered directly by the sun and wind (which means no waste of energy and no increase in utility bills!).
A rooftop food dehydrator works by using the color black to draw in the sun's heat through a clear barrier. The heat then warms the air, which rises and is directed through screens with food on them.
If you are a true DIYer and have a set of tools to tinker with, go for the hardcore solar-food dehydrator like the one pictured. For the really hardcore, the rawer than raw, the useful object recyclers: why not use all reused or compostable materials?
My solar dehydrator, for example, is on a rooftop in Hollywood, dehydrating nine months of the year, so the sun is providing a generous power supply. Here are some tips to build your own:
The above concept can be used as a guide to concept your own customized dehydrator. This is a pretty simple design which should be transparent from the photos. You will need the usual hinges and screws for attaching. If you have tools and even limited experience building things, it shouldn't be hard. Proceed as you would with other conceptual designs and base the dimensions of the box and cover on what is available on your rooftop space—and how much dried food you want to produce.
Certainly, you don’t have to build a solar dehydrator as big as mine. You can find plans below for a small, easy solar dehydrator that can be built in a few hours for less than $10. Tailor the plans to fit your specific climate, space and food needs. But do build one.
I mean, how cool would it be to send your child to school with a luscious whole dehydrated banana in her lunch box? How about some date-sweetened "buckwheaties" with hemp-seed milk for breakfast cereal? Or you might want a work snack of apple slices spread with sun-warmed coconut butter. It's easy to replace potato chips with a more mineral-packed variety, and if those kale chips were dehydrated in your personally built, solar food dehydrator made from recycled material, what could be greener about your late-nite snacks?
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