Food dehydration has been around for centuries. Written
history claims that dehydration of food for preservation purposes has been
around at least as early as 1700 BC in Mesopotamia. It is said that dehydration
for preservation has been around even longer that salt curing. Diets of
soldiers during WW1 and WW2 consisted of large amounts of dehydrated foods. Climates
and ease of transportation not to mention the longer shelf life were good
reasons for using dehydration.
Even after long periods of time, dehydrated food is said to
keep its nutritional value as well as its flavor once rehydrated. These are all
good reasons to dehydrate a portion of excess garden vegetables.
I personally have taken a stab at garden vegetable dehydration
and found mixed results. My first shot at dehydration was several years back
when I bought the “5 TIER FOOD DEHYDRATOR” from my local Harbor Freight Tools
store for around $20.
I dehydrated several thing including carrots, Green beans,
tomatoes, goji berries and grapes. I had mixed results with this slow drying
dehydrator. Some food like peppers and tomatoes not to mention store bought
apples and bananas came out great. My negative issue with this model was it cooked
slowly and the different level of vertical trays dried at much different paces.
Also this dehydrator seemed to waste too much energy for the result I was getting.
More than 24 hours for drying fruit seemed a bit long. I researched other
models which had fans that blew air sideways. These other models look better
but are much higher in price and I still haven’t purchased one yet. .
With my short lived disappointment of this electric draining dehydrator still in mind, I thought there must be a better way. In my head I came up with a lower energy cost solution of getting my food dehydrated. My solution was to use my hot climate to my advantage. With some old cull wood, empty soda cans, Plexiglas and imagination I built my first solar dehydrator.
This system worked great and especially wonderfully when dehydrating herbs but more tweaking needed to be done. I did have the good sense to put wheels on the bottom of the giant homemade solar dehydrator. Mobility to me was important when trying to track a majority of the suns energy. My major troublesome issues came down to the dehydrators bulky weight and the visually unappealing appearance. All in all it was a great first attempt. I soon dismantled this project and I am currently thinking of a new design, implementing home store Styrofoam use for stucco wall building. This new idea will full answer the prior weight issues.