Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Solar Dehydrator

Cassie built a very cool device:  a solar dehydrator.

It's made out of reclaimed redwood.  How does it work, you ask?   Well, first you load up the trays with whatever fruit or vegetable you'd like to dehydrate - we're currently drying heirloom tomatoes (we had SO many from the expo.)  The main part of the unit - the rectangular wooden box on the right - opens in the back to reveal various racks that hold vented trays lined with mesh.  Lay the tomatoes on top, place unit in the sun and in a few days (depending on how moist your produce is) you will have sun-dried tomatoes!

Heirloom tomatoes slowly drying

Fresh tomatoes on the tray, about to begin drying

The slanted potion of the dehydrator works to capture heat.  It's plexiglass on top, so it allows the sunlight to enter easily, and below it, the wood is painted black so as to attract as much sun as possible.  The heat is captured in the space between the wood and plexiglass, and moves up (hot air rises) into the main compartment where your produce resides.

So far we've dried apples and zucchini slices.  The heirlooms have another day or so to go, but they're looking good.  We sampled on of the thinner slices that was essentially ready - it was super sweet and almost tasted like an apricot.  Love those heirlooms ;)

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