If you love planting a big garden, you likely face the same problem each year – how to consume all your fresh fruits and veggies before they go bad. Unfortunately, crops tend to ripen and yield in short periods of time, giving you an overabundance one month and scarcity the next. You can probably give some of your extra food away to friends, family, and neighbors, but if your garden yields 100 pounds of tomatoes, you probably can’t give all of it away. Canning is one great way to preserve food, but not every type of food is ideal for canning. Another option that you might not have ever considered is dehydrating your food. Not sure how to do that? With basic woodworking skills, you can build your very own, completely natural solar food dehydrator.
Why Build a Solar Food Dehydrator
There are a lot of great reasons to build a solar food dehydrator. First, if you love munching on raisons or tossing dried tomatoes onto your pasta, then you know that dehydrated foods can be very yummy. Dehydrated foods also let you preserve the abundance from your garden, preventing unnecessary food waste and allowing you to enjoy nutritious, natural food all year round even during the winter and summer. Finally, if you are trying to lower your dependence on fossil fuels or want to try living off the grid, a solar food dehydrator is an excellent tool!
How a Solar Food Dehydrator Works
A solar food dehydrator is relatively simple to build and works by using the natural energy of the sun. You’ll need to design two different primary parts. First, the enclosed drying chamber will include a row of metal mesh drying racks. When your solar dehydrator is complete, you’ll place thinly sliced fruits and veggies on this rack. Warm air will move up from the collector box, dry the food, and escape from vents at the top of the drying chamber.
The second component is the collector box. This is an angled chamber that collects and heats air. Panels at the top of the collector box absorb radiation from the sun, while the open door at the bottom collects fresh air. As the air heats, it rises until it reaches the drying chamber.
This excellent article lays out exactly how to build a solar food dehydrator.
The Right Materials
A successful solar food dehydrator begins with using the right materials. At Lawrence Sintered Metals, we are happy to offer a variety of metal mesh to help you complete your solar food dehydrator. Contact us today to learn more about your metal mesh options.