Saturday, July 7, 2012

Make Your Own Dehydrator

You may have hesitated to make your own dehydrator because it seems difficult. It isn't. This is something that you can easily figure out yourself.

You only need four things to make a dehydrator:
1.) A container you can close up, but still ventilate.
2.) Shelves to put the food on that will let air circulate around the food.
3.) A heat source. (I am using a regular light bulb.)
4.) A way to circulate more air. A fan is good.

If you have warm, dry weather, you don't even need all of the above. People in many parts of the world just cut up the food to be dried and put it on their roofs for the sun to dry it.

If you don't like the idea of flies and other insects stomping all over your food as it dries, you need to find a way to keep them out.

I already have a small dehydrator and I use the top of my refrigerator as a drier. These are fine, but I need something larger so I can buy produce in bulk by the crate and dry all of it at once. It is too hard to keep the part that won't fit into my drying areas from spoiling. It can take several days for some things to dry.

I have been looking for something to use as a container to hold the food, shelves, heat source, and fan. I was looking for a defunct speaker cabinet, small shelves or a dresser that could be gutted.

Yesterday I found the container. It was a small set of shelves. They are just the right size to fit into a deep window recess so that I don't have to heat up my apartment during the hot summer weather. Yeah, I know. You think Alaska doesn't have hot weather. Alaskans think we are burning up when it hits 70. So we're heat wimps. We handle cold pretty well, though, so there!

All that I have to do to fix my dehydrator is take out the middle shelves and move one to the bottom. Then I have to put on a back and a door with hinges. Then I need some holes in the side and top for air, covered with screen for insects. Then the shelf supports and fan and light bulb for heat. 

Some people use refrigerator racks for holding the food to dry. Others have used screen stretched over something. I'm working on what I want, still.

You need to put your fan and light bulb on the bottom of the dehydrator, inside it. Don't get your bottom shelf for food too close to the bulb so it doesn't burn. 

My shelves are painted and I have no idea what kind of paint it is. I don't like the idea of that outgassing all over my food that is drying in there, but the price was right, so I'm risking it. Unpainted, untreated wood could be a better choice.

Ok. Now you know what is needed. Go make yourself a dehydrator.

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