DIY: Solar Powered Food Dehydrator

Harnessing the sun’s energy is not as difficult as one may think.  Solar power is a huge untapped energy source that can be used to dry foods, heat water, dry laundry and create electricity.  Generally speaking, the sun’s energy is collected in the solar food dryer.  With the warm air circulating inside the main compartment, the warmth of the air slowly dries the food out.  No energy is needed except from what the sun gives.

Most Materials Can Be Used

There are ways of using the sun’s energy to create tools that will not break the bank.  Many people have used discarded materials such as old window panes, screening from an old screen door, even old shoe boxes and turned it into a solar food dryer.

When Using A Solar Oven To Cook and Preserve Food A Few Things Must Be Considered:

Test For Dryness

Rely on appearance and feel to judge dryness. Cool a test handful a few minutes before deciding whether the food is done. Consider fruit dry when no wetness can be squeezed from a piece which has been cut – it should be rather tough and pliable. Consider vegetables dry when brittle.

Pre- And Post-Drying Treatments For Fruits & Vegetables

Steam blanching is safe pre-treatment which can prevent spoilage – especially of low acid foods such as vegetables. Important post-drying treatments are: Conditioning – i.e. leaving in open air for long periods to equalize moisture content. Pasteurizing – i.e. exposing the dried foods to high heat to eliminate harmful organisms

Storage

Ensure food is thoroughly cool before storing. Store in small quantities in glass or food-grade plastic. Check supplies frequently for contamination or dampness. Keep in a dry, cool place (between 4 C/40 F and 21 C/70 F).

Preparing For Eating

Fruits – cover with boiling water in saucepan and simmer the fruit covered for 10-15 min. – sweeten to taste at the very end of cooking. – remove from heat and cool still covered Vegetables. – soak all vegetables except greens in cold water until they are nearly restored to their original texture. – use only enough water to cover and always cook in the soaking water. – cover greens with enough boiling water to cover and simmer until tender.

Source – www.jrwhipple.com

Also check this video out.  It’s a solar herb dryer that can be hung in a sunny window area.  It is artistic and functional at the same time.

The abundant energy from the sun can be used for many, many things.  For instance, when drying heavy laundry items such as blankets, sheets and towels, just set it outside and let the sun do the work.  By using a bit of creativeness, the sun can work for you and save you money on your electric bill as well as saving fossil fuels.  Start creating solar projects of your own and let the sun show you it’s full scale of power.

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