Do you remember my post about how to dry fruits without a dehydrator? I told you back then, that, that was a process I wouldn’t repeat, because the fruits are not drying all at the same time and if you leave them in the oven, more then you should, they overcook and get stuck to the baking paper, so even though the oven is doing its job with the dehydration, you’ll have to separate the smaller, cooked fruits from the rest 2h before all are ready, and this takes a little too much time for the small fruits like berries. I’ve been upgrading my drying methods, and as you’ve seen from the title, I’m now the happy owner of a home made solar dehydrator and you’ll find step by step pictures with the making of. First I’ve got to tell you that I’m really happy about it, because now I have a good method of storing the extra fruits and vegetables from the garden, transforming them in something that will never rest for too long on the shelves! That’s because I like preparing my breakfast cereals and sandwiches and other recipes with dried fruits and vegetables. The fruits dried in the sun have a way better taste than the ones dried in the oven, because the dehydrating process takes much longer and at a lower heat, while dehydrating them in an oven, even at lowest heat, will partially cook them, and you don’t want them cooked..just dehydrated!
You know what I really like about my dried fruits is that I can have them without sugar and preservatives, because many of the fruits you’ll find in supermarkets have extra sugar added. The dried fruits are already concentrated, I don’t think we really need the extra sugar! Or, I don’t know why, but there is also a practice of dehydrating mostly the sweetest fruits, like figs and dates…
After my first harvest, I had a delicious breakfast with cereals and dried apples – that are my favorite, plums and peaches. My shooting was a great source of appetite for my husband, at the end he brought another plate with milk to enjoy his second breakfast with me, out in the garden!
But let me tell you how we’ve made our solar dehydrator from recycled objects. First, if building one, you have to find a place in your garden with plenty of sun, without tree’s or building’s shadows eclipsing the sun! 2-3 days are enough to dry fruits if the weather is good. It’s especially important to have good weather in the first day, so watch the forecast! If you don’t have the 2-3 days of full sun it might take longer, and as I’ve told you, the first day is very important, if it’s without sun, the fruits will probably rot, especially the juicy ones!
• a window glass, it’s best if it’s double and if it comes together with the frame and hinges
• some wood to work with for making the pylons and the box
• meter, hammer, nails and a saw..electric one preferably
• fiberglass mesh, or you can try other fabric, but we found this to be the best… plastic will melt, metals will rust.
• black paint for painting the inner part, after the fruits season ends, so it has enough time to dry, to make sure no strange tastes will get in your fruits!
First time we’ve added the fruits on the fiberglass mesh directly, but, as some of the most juicy ones(like tomatoes), got really stuck to it, we’ve made an upgrade, covering it with a dark fabric to attract the light. We’ve also added the fruits on strings, stretched from one side to another. This way you have more space for the fruits an it’s easier to collect them. We’ve made our first test with slim slices, but we then tried, and it worked, with bigger chunks as well!
It’s preferably to make it inclined to the sun, or to incline it afterwards, adding something under two pylons to get as much sun as possible! The photos are really self explanatory, so not much to add, you can see in there each and every step! It will take half a day to make it, but it’s really easy and it’s a fruit and money saver!