One of the few things Brent and I have in common is our interest in tinkering and building. He will routinely builds computers from scratch while I have more sketches and small scale models of furniture than I could ever hope to have time to build. Brent started messing with computers and electronics when he was barely in his “tweens.” My father used to build furniture so I spent a lot of time with him around jig saws, lathes and wood.
Despite our different subject interests though, when it comes to “projects”, we routinely meet in the middle. One of the middle ground project goals we have is a solar powered dehydrator (another is a hovercraft but I won’t even bother getting into that today.)
Photo credit: ecostudio
Unlike freezing, drying is a preservation method that wont leave you vulnerable to power failures (a routine occurrence in Jamaica particularly around hurricane season) or equipment and mechanical failure. It can also intensify flavors (think sun dried tomatoes!) Dehydrators are certainly not necessary to the raw food diet but they are a really handy tool for those of us still stubbornly clinging to our bread addictions.
A solar powered dehydrator is essentially a “hot box” in which the food is enclosed in a box with a clear cover to protect and clear holes on the bottom and sides to allow moist air to exit the dehydrator. Once dried, food can usually be kept in sealed containers for up to a year.
Photo credit: Eden Fodor
There are numerous articles that have been written on solar powered dehydrators. In fact a quick google search yields 84,900 hits! Building a solar powered dehydrator is not as complicated as one might think and you probably already have all the components that you need sitting in your garage or under your sink. Essentially, this will require 2 cardboard boxes or timber, a large black trash bag or black paint, tape and some kind of mesh or screen material. Simple and very cost effective… a far cry from what you would spend in a store on an electrical dehydrator (which work fine but can be very noisy… though I still have lofty aspirations of owning an Excalibur one day.)
As soon as Brent and I are in the same country, we plan on building one for fun but this would also make a great weekend project if you have kids. They’d get the satisfaction of being able to build something that functions with their own two hands and you’d get the satisfaction of knowing they had learned something.
If you want a little more reading into the actual building of a solar powered dehydrator this article is the most comprehensive I have found. It has loads of pictures, diagrams and charts and is very in depth!