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Solar Food Dehydrators

Updated on March 24, 2014

Preserve your Garden Harvest with the Sun

Once you start gardening, the issue becomes how to save your delicious harvest so that you can enjoy it all. One method that is very useful is dehydrating or drying your fruits and vegetables. Instead of having food drying come down to one more appliance that uses electricity, why not try making your own solar dehydrator?

Drying food is one of the oldest ways of preserving the harvest, and it's a method that lets you save the food without using a constant flow of electricity (like freezing). Some dried foods can be eaten as-is after dehydrating but many are soaked in water again to improve their texture and flavor before cooking. Dehydrated veggies are great in soups and stews in the winter, allowing for summer flavors and nutrients to be kept in the diet year-round.

Food Drying Without Electricity

We used to have an electric food dehydrator in the house. It was great for saving food from the garden and it made making your own camping meals really easy, but the housemate who owned it moved out, so that was the end of the electric dehydrator.

Since we'd love to still be able to dry foodstuffs, but would like to reduce the amount of electrical appliances we use in the kitchen, I thought making a solar food dehydrator would be a great option. With the right plans, lots of recycled materials can be used and in the summertime, the power is about as cheap and abundant as you could want.

We don't have a lot of room, so building a taller and more narrow one with several shelves will probably be the overall shape we develop. One of our biggest uses is going to be for herbs we grow, followed by vegetables that get harvested in the fall. I sure wouldn't mind making my own sun-dried tomatoes instead of buying them.

Take a Look at a Solar Dehydrator

What If You Don't Have Enough Sun? - an option for those who can't solar dry food

Nesco FD-75PR Food Dehydrator
Nesco FD-75PR Food Dehydrator

If you live in an area where you don't get enough sun to really make solar drying viable, or for those winter-time food storage projects, you might like owning an electric food dehydrator. These let you dehydrate just about anything and are great for making your own jerky, fruit leather or dehydrating pre-cooked food to assemble your own low-cost camping meals.


DIY Dehydrator PDFs

Here are links to PDFs on the web that are about how to build your own solar food dehydrator. If you click on these, it will start a download of a document to your computer.

If you're working on your own solar dryer, let us know how it's going! If you've had problems, let us know what they were and how you worked them out!

Have you built your own solar food dryer?

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    • profile image

      burntchestnut 4 years ago

      Thanks for the links to how to build a solar food dehydrator. It's wonderful to be able to do something "off the grid."

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 4 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I would love to build a solar food dehydrator. Thanks for the idea and links to instructions!

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      Yes, many times while camping in the New Mexico desert during the summer and I have even dried meat and fish in the Nevada mountains east of Carson City. (Pine Nut Mountains) Solar dehydrator's work remarkably well. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      Do-It-Yourself-Solar 4 years ago

      I will do this one! Thanks!

    • HowToStartAnOnl profile image

      HowToStartAnOnl 5 years ago

      I'm going to build one of these for next summer!

    • dawnsnewbeginning profile image

      dawnsnewbeginning 5 years ago

      No but I've seen some very innovative ones.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just what I needed for info. I may sound crazy, but I'm preparing for the worst, especially if this economy don't turn around. Raising my chickens, growing a big garden and built a large lake, well stocked with fish. Bring it on, my family will survive!

    • profile image

      MindProjects 5 years ago

      Awesome idea. green, creative and ideal for raw foodies :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Back to sprinkle some angel dust on this lens at harvest time.

    • LivRiley LM profile image

      LivRiley LM 6 years ago

      Super "green" idea!

    • Euryale Sinclair profile image

      Euryale Sinclair 6 years ago from The Left Coast

      @anonymous: I've hunted around but not found any specifics that meet your situation. Most likely you will have to build something and experiment. I'd think that having some sort of fan-driven air circulation is going to be necessary with all that moisture.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I need to build a solar food dryer. With my home running on a photovoltaic system, an electrical food dryer is not at all what I need or want. Better to let the sun do the work. Thanks for the resources. Appreciated.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      What a great idea! Thanks for all the wonderful resources.

    • falling lakes profile image

      falling lakes 6 years ago

      great idea!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Anyone have any ideas of what might be the best design for a solar dryer in central america, where we have lots of hot sun, but where the peak of fruit season could be during our most humid months?

    • profile image

      mazteryota 6 years ago

      I will be building a few large scale dryers this summer, will post pics as I go. Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks, wonderful lens.

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 6 years ago

      No I have not, but it's a great project. And everyone should own a dehydrator.

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 6 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 6 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Really love this idea! will be doing it, as we have an abundant amount of sun:)

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      We dry out tomatoes every summer - I love this DIY solar dehydrator. The heat box is pretty much the same as a DIY solar airbox to heat a room. Blessed by a granola head bus-tripping angel visiting the neighborhood.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      This is entirely new to me. Thanks for sharing!! :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      I haven't built a solar dehydrator, but I have built an easy to use solar oven called the Cookit. Thanks for the info1

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Great work! This is a really interesting way to dry out food, and, I suppose, one of the most natural, easiest ways to do it - no need to buy a dehydrator!

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks! And angel blessed!

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 7 years ago

      This is a pretty good idea. I usually just hang mine in the window.

    • JohnCumbow profile image

      JohnCumbow 7 years ago

      I haven't built a solar dehydrator yet, but I used to have a home-built one that used a light bulb and a fan to circulate dry air around the fruit and veggies I loaded into it.

      Thanks for creating a helpful lens!

    • Judy Goldsberry profile image

      Judy Goldsberry 7 years ago

      Excellent Information on how to build dehydrators. I have been dehydrating for years but never thought of making my own.

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      No, but your lens is giving me ideas :)

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 7 years ago

      Very useful lens :)

    • profile image

      jgdeutsch 7 years ago

      Well done--hip hip hooray for the environment!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Treehouse - where did you find the plans for this? I am looking to build one and live in Costa Rica! THANKS!!!

    • profile image

      JaysLens 7 years ago

      I am trying to start a raw food diet. This lens was very interesting, great information on solar food dehydrators!

    • profile image

      martialartstraining 7 years ago

      Ive always thought this was a good idea to try, now I think I just might. Thanks for the inspirational lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I need one that will fit on a motorcycle...

    • renee7 profile image

      renee7 8 years ago

      I have a drying rack for persimmons, but I have never even thought about drying tomatoes. I'll have millions of them in a couple of months, and usually I just peel and freeze them, but this year I will try drying some of them too! Great Lens!

    • profile image

      jakealoo 8 years ago

      I have always used an Excalibur but this lense has given me some great new ideas. Thanks for building such a quality page.

    • cyberpunkdreams1 profile image

      cyberpunkdreams1 8 years ago

      Excellent stuff. I have a glut of tomatoes every year, so this would be a great way to store them.

    • profile image

      bengriston 8 years ago

      I have been looking for a good plan for building a solar dehydrator. We have a really large garden and this would be the best way to preserve the food that we cannot eat right away.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I built the 4' x 4' Solar Food Dryer for Humid Climates described by Larisa Welk (but less tall). One question that has arisen: My batch of drying apples have attracted small ants. What do people recommend to keep the ants away?

    • Eklectik1 profile image

      Eklectik1 8 years ago

      Great lens and idea--I'll have to try it..

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I was very much worried as the cost of dehydrated vegetables etc was so costly I was not able to carry many development in food industry. I thank you for the design and I am sure it will help me

    • profile image

      geothermalminnie 8 years ago

      I've always wanted to buy a food dehydrator to dry bananas, but didn't want to spend the money. The cardboard dehydrator is fantastic. Great lens!


    • TheresaMayhew profile image

      TheresaMayhew 8 years ago

      I love dehydrating fruits and vegetables. We use a drying rack that is enclosed in fine mesh. It has about 8 layers/racks and hangs by a hook. I take it outside and hang it on my clothes line in the direct sun. It's great for when I dehydrate onions since the smell lingers for a long time.

      Great information on dehydrators.


    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Your lens would be a great addition to the 'Solar Technology and Solar Energy' Group

      ( )

      Feel free to add it anytime!


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