Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Solar Food Dehydration: Sunlight’s Practical Way of Preserving the Harvest with Zero Fuel Cost

 Solar food dehydration is the process of removing water from fruits and vegetables by circulating hot air through it, thus preventing the growth of enzymes and bacteria. These organisms cause the food to deteriorate. This process is a simple low cost way to preserve food that might otherwise spoil. 

It is one of the oldest ways of preserving the harvest, and lets you save food without using electricity. Solar food drying can be used in many areas.  How fast the food dries is affected by many factors such as the amount of sunlight and relative humidity. 

General guidelines
  • Wash fresh fruits and ripe vegetables thoroughly.
·          Cut  into thin pieces, not more than about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick)
  • Spread thinly on trays initially giving an allowance of a third to a half of the screen area clear for the passage of air. It can be made more compact after the first moisture is gone.
  • Typical drying time ranges from 1 to 3 days, depending on sun, air movement, humidity, and type of food.
  •  Remove 80 to 90% of moisture from the food.
  • Once the drying process has started it should not be interrupted, do not allow freezing.
  • Direct sunlight is not recommended.
  • To test if food is sufficiently dried, remove a piece and let it cool. Vegetables should be brittle. Fruits because of their sugar content may never get beyond a firm bend or leather quality.
  • Allow food to cool completely before storing.
  • Store food in air tight jars or plastic containers, and do not expose dried food to air, light or moisture.
How to acquire one

Solar Cooker International (SCI) is one of the leading proponents in the use of solar cookers especially in third world countries. Cookit, the simplest cooker is being promoted as a diy device very popular in depressed areas. Many ready to use food dehydrators are also available in the internet.

 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. Most foods are allowed to stand for 15 minutes (equal parts packed food and water) before being added to standard recipe.

 Stored dried food is prepared every growing season. Food prepared this way should be used within the next months as the nutritional value slowly drops over time. By preserving food the solar way you become a part of the generation who has trusted the sun for efficient consumption of food.

Please visit our Informative Solar Article page for more practical tips, simplified application guide and established solar benefits.

Author’s Box

Jacinto Demonteverde, Jr., the owner, is a strong advocate of solar power adoption. He writes practical articles to keep established and prospective solar users well informed. Visit him at: http://www.justsolarhome.blogspot.com. You are welcome to republish or reprint this article free of charge provided the content remains unchanged including the Author’s Box. No permission is needed.

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