October 06, 2012

Homemade Solar Food Dehydrator

After picking grapes yesterday, I panicked, realizing I had way more than I knew what to do with. These are seedless green grapes, not good for wine, and not very good for juice either. Perfect for raisins, however. So, I searched around my place for whatever I could find that would work for a dehydrator. I managed to put this completely together in a couple of hours from bits and pieces I already had around the place. I started with the base of an old chest of drawers. I turned it upside down, which worked perfectly since it had no bottom panel or legs.
 The bottom most section, which would have been the top drawer opening, I covered with a piece of window screen for the bottom vent. I used a piece of greenhouse plastic to cover the two tray area openings. I just stapled it to two lengths of slatting, so that it could be lifted easily when putting food in and out. I put a little toggle on one corner to hold it secure in a breeze.
 I had an old coffee table top made out of safety glass that I used for the top. It is bigger than the box but heavy so sits securely just by it's own weight.

I cut two holes in the back at the top and covered them with small pieces of window screen. This completes the venting.
I put two old barbeque racks on the drawer supports and covered the top one with a tea towel since  I didn't have any cheese cloth. I am trying this out to make sure the raisins don't stick too bad to the tea towel. I will look into getting food safe metal screen for drying other types of food. 
It's homely, but seems to be functional. I will assess the situation after the first couple of days and see if anything needs to be adjusted.