Food dehydrators can be expensive and if you do not have that kind of money to spend, you can make one of your own at home. Dehydrating food is a great way to store edibles for future use while keeping the nutrition intact. Fruit and nut blends, along with seasoned veggies are a good, even gourmet, choice of snack for camping excursions as well as office nibbles.
Here is what you will need:
1. A box – be it wood or a cardboard box, make sure that it is strong and sturdy.
2. Heavy-duty aluminum foil – you will use quite a bit depending on the size of your box, so have a few rolls at hand just in case. If there is foil left over, you can always use it in the kitchen.
3. Masking tape or foil tape
4. A closet light ceramic socket
5. A high watt-age bulb (A 100 watt or 150 watt light bulb)- unfortunately an ec0-friendly light bulb will not get the job done.
6. Shelves (wood might work best, but old refrigerator shelves will also do)
7. Wooden dowel rods (Two for every shelf)
8. Aluminum bowls
You first step will be to either build a box from wood or use a sturdy and strong cardboard box. Remember that you must be able to either insert or remove your foods, so make a lid or a little door that can close tightly.
You will need to line your box with heavy-duty aluminum foil. For this you can either use foil tape or simple masking tape. Make little circles with the tape so that both sides are sticky – one side will stick to the box and the other side will stick to the foil.
Next you will insert your ceramic socket and light bulb. Make sure that no wiring is exposed and that no open wires touch the foil. Of course you will need to test the light to see if it works before you fully install it.
You will want to install it in the middle at the bottom of the box.
Next comes your shelves. If you are using cardboard, you can cut slits into the sides of the box and slide your shelves in. If you are using wood, you can install little L-Shape brackets on which you can balance your shelf.
Alternatively, you can use the dowel rods. Make holes in your box and slide the rods in. Balance your shelves on top of these.
Place your first shelf about 6 inches above your light. Then, place each shelf about 4 inches above the one before. Make sure that all holes are closed and sealed – this will ensure that no heat escapes or outside air is let in.
Once all of this is set-up and ready, place your chosen food in an aluminum bowl and start dehydrating. Remember that you want the food to be dry, but still flexible.
Please keep in mind that this is not the most eco-efficent dehydrator unless you are using a sustainable energy source, such as wind power or solar to power your lightbulb. Another much more time intensive yet great eco solution for dehydrating food is the solar food dehydrator.