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Solar Dehydrator

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A friend recently gave me her well-loved solar dehydrator.  I have been chomping at the bit to try it out, and yesterday picked a bunch of herbs (that will eventually go into salves) and set to drying them.

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I spent some time in the evening gathering calendula blossoms and comfrey (shown here), broad-leaf plantain, raspberry leaves, rosemary, lavender, and costmary.  The calendula blossoms come in an array of peaches, yellows, oranges since I let them freely self-sow around the garden and express their natural genetic diversity.

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I have two electric dehydrators and make a lot of dried fruit and herbs in them.  However, electric dehydrators use a LOT of power and must run for eight or more hours.  This adds cost and produces heat indoors as well as any environmental impact that comes with plugging in an appliance.

The permaculture way to preserve via dehydrating is to utilize the natural energy of the sun (Principle 2: Catch and Store Energy) to dry food and herbs without costly use of electricity and all the waste products and impacts that come from using the grid (Principle 6: Produce No Waste).

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The dehydrator is made with a series of screens stacked into a wooden box. There is air space between the screens and around their edges.  The top of the box is glass, and as the sun’s rays are harnessed, hot air builds up in the box and circulates around, drying the herbs without any work from me, save rotating the screens a couple of times over the course of the day.  It is extremely efficient if the day is sunny.

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Looking forward to making a batch of salves soon, and hoping for more sunny days in the next week so I can dry prune plums next!

5 Responses to "Solar Dehydrator"

  • I saw these in use in the mountainous south of Argentina in 1977. There was no electricity, and people still largely got around by horse. This was a standard way of preserving food. People also sliced fresh apples into rings, then ran a strong thread to them, strung them across the kitchen and separated each ring from the other with a fork. As long as they did not touch each other they did not rot. A good low-energy-use method in a place where it rains a lot,and a needle and thread consist of the main capital investment.

  • I have no idea why my post has ask these weird capitalizations. When I look at it awaiting moderation every word is capitalized!

    Try again:

    “I saw these in use in the mountainous south of Argentina in 1977. There was no electricity, and people still largely got around by horse. This was a standard way of preserving food. People also sliced fresh apples into rings, then ran a strong thread to them, strung them across the kitchen and separated each ring from the other with a fork. As long as they did not touch each other they did not rot. A good low-energy-use method in a place where it rains a lot,and a needle and thread consist of the main capital investment. “

  • Thanks for posting this. I am so glad you are using this. The pictures are gorgeous. Cheers, Mary

  • Using the cutting diagram, measure and mark the remaining lines for both of the dehydrator sides, then fill in the empty space on the plywood sheet with lines for the vent covers and the front and back of the drying chamber.

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