How To Make A Simple Solar Food Dehydrator Pg 2
This is part two of the project. If you are visiting this page from outside, please see Page 1 first.
How To Make A Simple Solar Food Dehydrator Pt 2
Cover The Dehydrator Frame
Now cover the whole frame of the solar food dehydrator in clear plastic as shown in the photo below. Try to find UV resistant, transparent material if possible. The front door must be transparent to allow the sunlight to enter into the dryer and do its work. You can use plastic, drop cloth or plexiglass as your budget allows. You can even use glass if it is available.
Leave the bottom front of the dryer open to allow the heater to be inserted into the drying frame. Cover both sides and the back securely with plastic.
I have used a single long sheet of plastic for the top and door of the dryer for now. The plastic drapes across the top, leaving a few inches open to allow hot, moist air to escape. Later I will put a sloped roof on top and update this article. It will be designed more like a greenhouse ventilation system when done.
Make The Food Drying Racks
The last step is to make the food drying racks for your solar food dryer. These will slide smoothly in and out of the frame and rest on the side rails that you previously mounted onto the frame.
You will make 7 food drying racks, all the same so please repeat the following steps seven times.
Use your 1x2x8 lumber and cut 14 boards at 24 inch lengths. These will be the front and back sides of the drying racks. Set these aside.
Now cut 14 pieces of wood at 18 inch lengths. These will be the sides of your drying racks. Set these aside.
Cut 14 pieces of wood at 16 3/4 inche lengths. These will be the middle supports for your food drying racks.
Please refer to the photo below for the next steps.
Use two of the 24 inch pieces and two of the 18 inch pieces to make the food rack frame. Nail the sides together placing the shorter 18 inch ends on the outside of the longer boards as can be seen in the photo.
Take two of the 16 3/4 inch boards and place them 8 inches from the outside edges and nail them in place as seen below. These are the center supports for the food drying racks.
Now get some cheese cloth, stainless steel mesh, plastic screen or other suitable material and staple it in place on the food drying rack. Staple only on the underside of the rack. This is for safety. You do not want metal coming into contact with your food. See the photo below.
Using Your New Passive Solar Dehydrator
To use your new solar food dehydrator, simply slice your fruit or vegetables and place them evenly onto the drying racks as seen below. Leave space between the food to allow proper air flow and provide for even drying. Food toughing together will slow down the drying process or leave wet spots on the food.
You can see some cucumbers cut and ready to be dried on a finished food rack in the photo for an example.
Place your solar food dehydrator into the sun, facing south and put the solar heater into place on the bottom. Slide your food trays into the frame and cover the front and top of the solar food dryer.
Wait until the food is crispy and breaks easily before removing the food from the trays. Depending on your location and time of year this will take anywhere from one to two days to finish the drying process.
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