How to Build a Solar Food Dehydrator

Using passive solar power to dehydrate food is energy-efficient and lets you dry tomatoes and fruit for which air-drying typically isn’t fast enough.

| April 2011 Web

  • "The City Homesteader" provides information on all the basics of self-sufficient living: raising backyard chickens, gardening, sprouting grains, smoking meats and fish, making cheese, cellaring, harvesting rainwater, composting and much more.
    Illustration By Joel Holland, Courtesy Running Press
  • "The City Homesteader" provides information on all the basics of self-sufficient living: raising backyard chickens, gardening, sprouting grains, smoking meats and fish, making cheese, cellaring, harvesting rainwater, composting and much more.
    Image Courtesy Running Press

The following is an excerpt from The City Homesteader: Self-Sufficiency on Any Square Footage by Scott Meyer (Running Press, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 3: Save It For Later.

Using passive solar power to dehydrate food is energy-efficient and lets you dry tomatoes and fruit for which air-drying typically isn’t fast enough. You can make this simple solar food dehydrator with stuff you have around the house or that’s easy to scrounge up. It’s better to try drying on a sunny day, in warmbut not scalding temperatures, rather than in the dead ofwinter.

1. Get a long, shallow cardboard box like a men’s shirt box or gift box. The lid will be the solar panel, and the food will go inside the bottom half of the box.

2. Cut four air holes in each of the narrow ends of the box’s top piece—the holes should be about the size of a bottle cap.



3. Paint the inside of the top black, or line it with a black plastic bag.

4. Cover the topwith clear plastic. This section captures heat fromthe sun, which will be reflected back on the food.



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