This is simple to make. Made from two cardboard boxes (or even timber), some clear plastic wrap, and a little tape and you can build an inexpensive solar dehydrator. A functional food preservation machine that can be created for little work and little money.
Sunshine, drying is free and easy.
- Using the illustration as a guide, use a long thin cardboard box for the collector and a taller cardboard box to be used for drying.
- The boxes can be made to size by cutting and taping together small cardboard pieces (Alternatively, if you’re a bit of a handyman, this can be made from timber – make to any size or configuration you desire).
- The bottom of the collector box is to be lined with a black plastic sheet (garbage bag?) or paint the bottom with black non toxic water based poster paint, (lamp black or soot mixed with a little vegetable oil would work as well).
- NOTE: It is not desirable to use petroleum based sprays. If you do, 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.
- This unit can be quite easily made from recycled materials from the local tip/ dump.
- To increase the efficiency, you may want to cover the sides and bottom of both boxes with some form of Styrofoam insulation. When completed, place it on a support facing the sun as indicated in the illustration and it is ready to operate.
TESTS FOR DRYNESS:
- Rely on appearance and feel to judge.
- Test a handful by cooling for a few minutes before deciding if the fruit is done.
- When no wetness can be squeezed from the fruit when cut, it can be considered dried. Fruit should be pliable and tough. Don’t over dry as the fruit is not as nice to eat.
- Vegetables should be dry and brittle.
PRE AND POST-DRYING TREATMENTS:
Steam blanching is a safe pre-treatment technique.
This can prevent spoilage with low acid foods such as vegetables.
- It is important to ensure food is cool before storing – a condensation build-up can occur leading to mould if this is not followed.
- Dried goods to be stored in small quantities in glass containers is desirable.
- Always check frequently for mould or dampness.
- Keep in a dry, cool place. Ideal temperature range is between 4 C/40 F and 21 C/70 F.
- Make the most of the long hot summer by drying your excess fruit and vegetable crops.
- It is easy to do and you will find the end product so much tastier than the bought variety. You will also know that no chemicals or preservatives have been used in its preparation.
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