Drying is a form of food preservation because by getting rid of moisture, you prevent bacteria from ruining your fruits and vegetables. It’s a great snack idea as well, especially for the kids!
But electric dehydrators can be too energy-consuming as they run all day long. If you live in a tropical area or where you get a good sun at least a few months a year, this solar food dehydrator can be a good alternative for you.
It’s a simple design food dehydrator that is made out of reclaimed materials. The plywood used is a scrap piece. The 2×4’s came from an old ladder. And the window is an old house window.
Aside from being energy-saving, this DIY project is also inexpensive depending on the materials that you already have. You only have to make sure that your materials are non-toxic if you are going to use reclaimed wood.
Read on to learn how this DIY food dehydrator was built below! Don’t forget to take note of the dehydrating tips at the end 🙂
How do you think this food dehydrator can be further improved?
- Thin Plywood
- 2×4″ Lumber – 4-1/4′ long
- 2×2″ Lumber – 10′ long
- 20×23-1/8″ Window (or a suitable slab of clear plastic)
- Screen – for covering vents
- Stockings (or any stretchable cloth) – for drying rack
- 2 Hinges
- Hook and String – to fasten rear door
- Staple Gun
- Table Saw
- Measuring Tape
Learn the design. There are vents underneath in the front which are hidden in this picture. The darker section is a piece of heat absorbent material, we used painted metal for this particular dehydrator, but other materials will do as long as they are dark. The food itself is placed on the shelf, which will be made out of a cloth screen. Other screen-like materials can be used, but take chemical leeching into consideration to prevent contamination. The back piece of ply wood can be opened to remove the shelf and provide additional ventilation.
Here is a checklist for the plywood pieces:
- 1′ x 23 1/4″‘ (Top)
- TWO 20″ x 12″ x 26 1/8″ x 14 1/8″ (Sides) This has a diagonal cut.
- 26 1/8″ x 23 1/16″ (Bottom) This will be trimmed to fit legs and vents.
- 14 1/8″ x 23 1/16″ (Back) This will be on hinges.
Assemble the frame. Remember to drill then screw to prevent splitting.
- Cut 2″ x 4″ notches out on the bottom plywood piece for legs. Cut out 2″ x 4″ slits for ventilation.
- Construct base first as pictured.
- Fasten side pieces of plywood to legs.
- Attach rear plywood piece.
- Screw 2″ x 2″ on top of side pieces to anchor the top piece. (This is more clear after viewing the second picture on this step)
Additional Components. Clean parts before adding them.
- Size and Insert heat absorbent shelf (Approximately 23″ x 20″). This rests on the top of the legs.
- Construct drying screen by stretching and stapling material over a 14″ x 22 1/2″ frame constructed of 2″ x 2″ pieces.
- Cut and attach support piece for drying screen.
- Attach the window. Caulking the borders is recommended, but if the window is flush against the frame, then caulking is optional.
- Cover vents with screen material to protect from insects.
- Place the thermometer inside, ideally close to the drying screen rack.
- Dehydration will occur between 100 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower and bacteria can grow, any higher and it will be cooking. To achieve this balance the rear door may need to be left ajar.
- Different fruits and vegetables have different optimum drying temperature ranges. Research what you are drying to find this out.
- Remember to store your result in a dry place.