- The simple method of dehydrating food in the sun is to leave it lying on a mat or other surface during the warmest hours of the day. The food gradually dehydrates and the food becomes dry and leathery. The simple, or traditional, method of dehydrating food has many drawbacks. For example, bugs, car fumes and other contaminants can ruin the food. However, this process is still used in rural areas as well as poor and developing countries around the world.
- Newer methods of dehydrating food using the sun utilize simple machines called solar dryers. These are four-legged structures that can be made from a number of different materials. Food is no longer at the mercy of birds, bugs and other pests and it is also protected from rain. The food lies on a flat, porous surface underneath a protective enclosure. Dry air is able to enter from the bottom of the unit, and wet air leaves through the top.
How it Works
- Regardless of the method you are using to dehydrate your food the essential method remains the same. Solar radiation generates heat, causing the water inside the food to evaporate. With sun dryers the process is faster, as the material used to produce the protective screen often intensifies the heat. There must also be a controlled flow of air around the food so that the moist air can flow up and away from the food.
- Once you have successfully dehydrated your food, you must also take care how you store it. Warm food should not be placed in containers, as it may still contain moisture. Instead, allow the food to cool completely before placing it in a storage container. Dried food will often stick together, so you may wish to dust it lightly with sugar or spices to stop this. Food can be stored in practically any container, but should be dark and block out the light.