Dehydration provides an excellent method for storing nutritious foods your family can consume right out of the container or rehydrate with hot water for easy meals. This method has proved its worth over time and in many difficult conditions. Adding it to your family’s plan makes good sense in your daily life right now and assures you of high-quality provisions for any emergency that might pop up.
Many methods and tools exist for dehydrating food, but the result remains the same for each process. The goal is to remove water and moisture from the food. The produce shrinks a lot with this technique, making the pieces lighter and smaller.
Why Solar Dehydrating?
Solar dehydration uses the natural heat of the sun, along with airflow, to remove the moisture from fruits and vegetables. This process provides two big advantages. First, sunlight does not cost money, and second, although rain and clouds might temporarily obscure it, the sun remains available even if natural disasters, civil unrest or economic chaos have damaged the power grid. While electricity costs quickly add up for every hour you operate a dehydrator, you can make use of the sun’s energy for days without paying a dime.
Numerous devices fit under the umbrella of solar dehydrators, including some ingenious creations enterprising folks have put together from recycled objects. A few of the more elaborate home inventions involve solar collectors that heat air aimed into a separate cabinet where the food dries slowly. Other direct solar dryers cover a cabinet, often made of wood, with clear glass, so the sun’s rays heat the food and hasten the dehydrating process. Generally, most of these home designs are one-of-a-kind items not found for sale on any mass-market sites.
Typical solar dehydrators readily available from large online retailers fall into two categories. The first group uses well-designed hanging tray compartments covered with fine mesh that keeps out insects, birds and airborne debris but allows the air and drying breezes to flow through. They vary by size, number of trays and quality of construction, but most work well in the sun, shade, on the patio and even indoors hanging in windows or pantries.
The other easily obtainable solar dehydrating device involves purchasing a solar oven that comes with special racks for dehydrating food—or you could fashion your own rack set-up for use in almost any solar oven. Buying a solar oven for dehydrating offers the advantage of shorter drying times since the reflection panels and oven design produce warmer temperatures than you can obtain with a drying rack hung in the sun. Solar ovens also provide the powerful benefit of free cooking energy that does not depend on an electric grid or carbon fuels.
Unfortunately, solar ovens come with the significant drawbacks of high cost and low capacity. However, if you already own a solar oven or plan to get one for outdoor cooking or emergency use, they offer a good opportunity for energy-free dehydrating.
How We Determine Our Ratings
With two distinct categories and several choices within each group, coming up with the top recommendations becomes a complex task. We want to make our advice fair, accurate and pertinent, so we spend a good deal of time researching the products and checking various opinions. We consider the following points for each solar dehydrator.
- Basic features and design
- Capacity for produce
- Protection from outside contamination
- Product quality
- Customer service
- Price and value
The 7 Best Solar Dehydrators You Should Consider
Two of the above considerations played a critical role in determining the top solar dehydrators. The design should provide excellent protection from insects, birds and airborne debris for health and safety reasons. The size and number of drying racks or layers should furnish adequate space to hold a large batch of produce to make the process worthwhile. After reviewing numerous solar dehydrators on the market, we came up with the following rankings.
- By drying foods naturally, 95% of the enzymes are retained
- Complete instruction book included
- Doubles as a seed sprouter & wheat grass growing trays
Although this unit registers on the high end of the price range for hanging solar dehydrators, the superior quality mesh and removable plastic trays make it worth the extra money. The five approximately 13″ square trays will accommodate a good quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables, and they can even be used to sprout seeds and grow healthy wheat grass. The top-to-bottom zipper makes it easy to add and remove the trays from the mesh enclosure while keeping bugs and other flying objects out. The sturdy plastic top guards against unexpected showers, and the high compartments and breathable mesh supply excellent ventilation for fast drying.
- Eco-friendly Material: Environmental breathable mesh ,built-in steel wire ring that provide sturdy support, waterproof...
- Unique design:Enclosed design,zipper design
- Quick-drying:Hanging loops at top so you can flip entire unit for faster drying ,the best way to dry dry plants,herb
Although this hanging solar dryer only contains four compartments, the 24″ diameter size and the exceptional quality and design of the dehydrator earn it the second place spot in our rankings. Sturdy steel rings support each mesh rack, and the airy waterproof fabric enables free-flowing circulation. Best of all, strong zippers in each section furnish an easy way to reach in and add or remove the drying food. The design features hanging loops on both the top and bottom, so you can flip the unit over to keep the drying process even. Buyers rate the Riogoo highly for quality and versatility. Customers mention using this dehydrator for herbs, mushrooms, fish, and fruit.
- The herb drying rack is a great solution to the problem of how to dry large quantities of herbs,flowers and other plant...
- Become a movement which helps with quick,even and thorough drying.
- Zippered design,Keep the herbs without bothering.
The large capacity of this eight-tier tray with individually zipped compartments provides worry-free solar drying for a variety of produce. Sturdy elastic steel gives extra support to the nylon mesh racks. The design allows excellent airflow while protecting from strong winds. Buyers give the product high marks for quality and design, but some advised opening the package carefully the first time since the packed trays pop out of the zippered bag with a great deal of force. Users report successfully dehydrating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
This amazing solar dehydrator furnishes more drying space than any other model we researched, but it definitely comes with some downsides too. First, be sure you have enough room to hang this because it is five feet high and three feet in diameter. Each of the eight compartments includes a moderate opening for tray access so insects, birds, and other unwanted creatures definitely may get in. Owners praised the large capacity, usefulness, and quick-drying ability of the unit. Several customers warned that the mesh racks sag easily and contents slide to the middle. This dehydrator works best for large quantities of herbs and smaller pieces of lightweight vegetables and fruit.
- Save money and be prepared with the world's most well-respected solar cooking appliance. Use at home or for emergency...
- Includes: Lightweight, portable solar oven that reaches 360-400 degrees
- Includes: Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set, 2 Easy Stack Pots w/ lids, 2 Loaf Pans & one Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing...
Solar ovens make an awesome dehydrator for your garden or bargain produce and double as an economical cooking appliance as well. Unfortunately, they also possess a low capacity and a high price tag. Since you only need a temperature range of approximately 120 degrees for dehydrating most fruits and vegetables, a lower value solar oven will do the job. However, the exceptional quality and bigger size of the All American Sun Oven justifies the larger investment if you are going this route. The model comes with three stacking dehydration racks, which provide enough room to make your effort worthwhile. You can also cook, bake, and boil with temperatures that reach as high as 350 to 400 degrees — all at no cost.
- Item Size: D24xH64 inch, 8 Layer
- Item Material:Durable Non-toxic polyester mesh and steel enough to provide sturdy support
- Open Design:Easy to put in and take out,aslo more faster to drying.
Growsun offers this large eight-compartment solar dryer at a reasonable price. The fine mesh aids ventilation and speeds up the drying process. Unfortunately, this hanging unit is “semi-enclosed” with open spaces in each layer for putting in and taking out the food. Buyers give the dehydrator very high reviews for large capacity, quality construction, and quick-drying times. However, a number of users also mention the lack of complete closure and protection from insects and other creatures.
- Made of thicker non-woven fabric, strong and durable, fine workmanship, two solid handles
- Ventilation, to strengthen root structure, to increase weed-resistance
- Allows roots to breath and grow healthier, boosts plants growth and yields
Approximately 23 inches in diameter and only 31 inches high, this enclosed mesh solar drying rack furnishes a good solution for balconies, patios, and other small spaces. Built-in steel rings support each of the four breathable mesh compartments, and quality zippers keep each unit free of insects and flying fragments. Customers rate this product highly for excellent quality, great design, and versatility to dehydrate a variety of fruits, vegetables, garlic, herbs, and even fish.
A Buyer’s Guide to Choosing and Using the Best Solar Dehydrator for Your Family
You can peruse lists, information, and recommendations, but what really counts is finding the right solar dehydrator for your family and figuring out the best way to put it to good use. Here are some things to think about as you go over the choices that seem interesting to you.
Are you a novice at food dehydration, or do you have a lot of dehydrating experience?
If you use an electric dehydrator or your oven to preserve food for your family, you already have knowledge, skills, and recipes to bring to the solar dehydration process. For example, you probably know how a dehydrated strawberry should look, feel and taste. More than likely, you’ve dehydrated some apple slices and realize you need to spray them with lemon juice to retain an appetizing color. In this case, you may feel comfortable purchasing a large hanging solar dryer with multiple trays. If you are just starting out on a dehydration adventure, you might want to stick to a basic unit with only a few trays, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the process. You may also want to start out with something simple like drying herbs that don’t take a lot of preparation.
Do you use other methods of food storage, such as canning?
If you enjoy canning or other preservation techniques and your family loves the results, you may want to introduce dehydrated foods a little at a time. Begin with a smaller solar dryer and see how you like the process and your family likes the food.
What types and quantities of produce do you plan to dehydrate?
Solar dehydrators typically work great for herbs, thinly sliced fruits, and vegetables without excessive moisture. Remember that using a sun oven gives you warmer temperatures and quicker drying times, but they can’t handle large quantities. The more produce you want to dry at one time, the more trays you will need. Some types of fruit may also prove especially attractive to insects and demand a dryer with excellent fine netting.
Think about the climate conditions where you live.
Solar dehydration depends on heat from the sun and air movement to evaporate moisture from the produce into the air. The sun shines for a limited time each day, and your location on the planet determines the amount of sunlight you receive. Your fruits and vegetables will definitely dehydrate more quickly in an arid climate than in an area with lots of humidity. These factors can affect the amount and method of produce you process at one time and may influence the ideal design of a solar dehydrator best suited to your climate.
Review your budget.
Obviously, we all have different budgets and amounts of money we can afford to spend on new tools for preserving food. Some people choose to purchase several hanging solar dehydrators so they can process more fruits and vegetables at a time. Others need to start very small and avoid costly mistakes. Solar ovens may involve a considerable outlay of cash, so you should consider the pros and cons for your family carefully.
Dehydration offers a tantalizing method for nutritiously preserving your bountiful garden harvests and in-season produce purchases. Adding a solar dehydrator to your food preservation arsenal makes good economic sense for your monthly energy budget, and it provides the security of knowing you can still store and preserve food for your family even if an emergency strikes.
In reality, you may still want to use an electrical or digital dehydrator when you have huge quantities of produce to process, need to get the job done quickly or want to preserve a type of food that responds better in a controlled environment. Just as many cooks make choices between an oven, slow cooker, microwave, or grill when they prepare a meal, you can select separate dehydrators for different foods.
Please share your experiences with solar dehydrators in the comments section below. Let us know the part they play in your home as you tuck away food for your family.
Last update on 2021-04-13 at 01:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API