Solar Dehydration

photo by Walk Hatfield

Fall is upon us and thus, harvest time.  Apples, plums, kale, and tomatoes abound.  In our quest for sustainability, there has been a lot of interest in food dehydrators that are solar-powered.  Solar dehydrators can come in many designs.  Below is a video that highlights three different designs:

The first solar dehydrator is shown by Robert and Marina at Dell Artimus Farm.  The solar heat comes from a heated panel at the bottom, and there is a black chimney at the top that creates a draw.  They use  a stainless steel screen.  The dryer is a year and a half old.  They have dried beans, flowers, cherries, grapes (raisins), kale, walnuts and apples.    They even tried some tomatoes, but those ended up as pig food.

Matt at Feral Farm shows a “down draft solar dehydrator.”  The solar heat enters at the top and then goes down.  Because as it gathers moisture, the solar heated air gets heavier.   He has nettles in there.

Mark Vander Meer, of Wildland Conservation Service in Missoula, Montana, shows off his solar food dehydrator still loaded with dried plums.  Those plums have been in there all fall, winter and most of the spring.  He talks about trying to dry fruit with electric food dehydrators and how expensive that was.  This solar dehydrator also uses the down draft technique.  He says plums take three days and apples take a day and a half.

These are all passive systems; there are no fans.

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