On average, it takes about two days of good sunshine.
(Between the months of May and October.)
You’ll need to experiment, though, as the type of food you’re drying, your location, the amount of sun you get daily, and the daily temperature and humidity will all impact how quickly you get results.
However, the good news is, this is EASY!
This isn’t like baking a delicate cake that’ll fall if you open the oven door! You can check in on the food, see how it’s coming along, sample your efforts, and decide when it’s done.
Just be sure to keep a written record of weather and how long it took to get results with each type of fruit, veggie, fish + meat you put in the dehydrator. It’ll be easier to get great results if you keep good records.
Building doesn’t take long. You can putter at it, on and off, over a couple of days and get it done. (Assembly doesn’t take long; you do need to wait for paint to dry, so that adds a bit of time.)
What takes the most time is sourcing the materials. I personally like to scrounge as much free material as possible for my DIY projects. (Although most everything you need is available at your local hardware store, if you don’t have the patience for this.)
But depending on where you live, you may need to order the food-grade mesh and have it shipped to your location. So this sourcing of the building materials is what will likely take you the longest. Not that it’s hard! ;-)
Not only are solar food dryers more economical than electric dehydrators, they’re more cost-effective – and I think they’re timesavers, too!
First of all, how are you planning to run an electric dehydrator in a grid-down situation? Even with a generator on-hand, why would you waste this precious resource on your electric dehydrator?
Second, electric dehydrators are EXPENSIVE! Because let’s face it, most of us homesteaders and survivalists aren’t looking to dehydrate a single bag of apples for our kids. This isn’t a hobby!
We have a large garden full of produce that we need to dehydrate quickly… or maybe a deer carcass that needs butchering and processing…
So we need to be able to move fast and get it dehydrated, or risk spoilage.
Electric dehydrators with large capacity cost $600 to $900+ US. And then you’re spending $2-$5 a day on electricity running them.
It’s MUCH more cost-effective to build your own solar food dehydrator.
It’s easy to build a solar dryer that has decent capacity.
Build it once, for a much smaller investment—and run it for FREE!
Plus, I like that the solar food dryer runs OUTDOORS! It’s quiet, with no loud fans, and there’s no heat, odor, or added moisture in my house. (Especially important during the summer… we already avoid running the oven in the house during the summer. Why would I put an electric dehydrator in my house?)
The solar food dehydrator works anywhere that you get a minimum of two days of good sunshine in a row. It will even work on partially cloudy days! (You may just need to leave the produce or meat in the dehydrator a bit longer.)
The general rule of thumb is: if you live somewhere that you get enough sunshine to successfully grow a garden, then you get enough sunshine to use a solar food dehydrator!
Absolutely, yes! It’s sanitary, weatherproof, and pest proof. Plus, we’ll show you how to build it so that there are no concerns about hormone-disrupting chemicals (or any chemicals!) coming in contact with your food, or leeching into your food.
Be warned, not all solar food dryer plans take this into consideration.
Yes! You really can. Think about it… How are you going to store meat when the grid goes down, and you don’t have a freezer anymore?
The drying of meat has been practiced for centuries (jerky dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt), and it is still the most common method of meat preservation in developing countries without easy access to affordable refrigeration.
Once meat has been dried (jerky-fied ;-) it’s shelf-safe—which means it can be stored without refrigeration! Making it perfect for anyone trying to decrease their dependency on their freezer in preparation for a grid-down scenario.
And the nutritional properties of jerky remain basically the same when it’s dried.
The only piece of advice I have for you is to focus on drying LEAN cuts of meat—especially game meat, like deer!
Because the fat on the meat can still go rancid. So lean cuts store better, for longer.
And it’s a good idea to monitor the temperature of your solar dryer, because it needs to heat to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria like Salmonella or E.coli. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough hot sun, it’s a good idea to pre-cook the meat a bit, before placing it in the dryer. (Again, to kill the bacteria.)
The advantage of using the solar food dryer for meat preservation over, say, salting and hanging the meat to dry, is that it’s FASTER—so your meat isn’t exposed to insects, rodents, or birds. And contamination is limited!