Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A solar food dryer?

Update below....

Take one thrift store cake rack and one thrift store enamel roasting pan, add the plastic cover from the microwave and what do you have? A crazy experimental solar food dryer thingy!

It was so warm this past weekend that I wanted to try drying some fruit -- specifically, the mango we had had for lunch and couldn't finish. So I cut it into little french fry sized slices, and stuck them on the cake rack, which was on top of the dark enamel pan. It would have been better to leave the fruit out in the open air, but there were a lot of flies buzzing around in the Spring heat, and I didn't want any fly goo on my dried mango fries.

Well, to make a short story shorter, the mango fries are still soggy. I forgot to move the contraption when the sun moved off the porch, and so very little drying activity occurred. I will definitely give this thing a try again though, because I think it could work. Then again, leaving the mango out on the kitchen counter on a baking sheet would work too. But that's not nearly as much fun.

April 16 2008 Update: Dried mango fries are delicious! After two days on the rack on the kitchen counter, the mango slices have all dried nicely in the open air. I packed a bunch of them as part of my lunch today, and they are so, so tasty. The flavor is concentrated, and the chewy texture is really satisfying. This mango was a bit under-ripe, so it tastes like one of those hard, sweet/sour candies (the brand name of which I won't mention because, I am not a billboard). I highly recommend this fruit drying thing. I'm going to give the solar dryer contraption another try outside on the next warm and sunny day, but it's good to know that just open air and time also work well enough.

11 comments:

artbystrongheart said...

When you discover the ideal way of drying fruits without electricity, please share! I'd love to be able to do that.

Simply Authentic said...

this is great! keep us posted on how it works! btw i'm planning to try to take a trip to edmonton to visit my friend there in june and would love any suggestions of great places to go!

Hippie Girl said...

In one of your last posts you mentioned planting kale, beet greens etc in planters in your driveway - did you buy these plants and put them in or did you start them all from seeds?

Theresa said...

Artby - I have since left the strips out on the counter just on the rack, and they have dried up quite nicely into a tasty snack!

Simply - what types of places do you have in mind? There are some great festivals going on in June, and the river valley is always great, along with the Muttart Conservatory and the John Janzen nature centre if you like flowers and birds. The Devonian Botanical Gardens are also very neat if you like gardening. Edmonton was also declared the "cultural capital of Canada" in 2007, so there are lots of art/drama/musical activities going on too, if that is of interest to you!

Hippie Girl - I've direct seeded these plants in those planters outside. I've also started some seeds inside, which I hope to transplant into the garden itself in a few weeks. I'm trying to start everything from seed myself this year, either inside the house in flats of soil mix, or direct seed them outside into my planters or the garden, once it's ready. Mostly I'm just trying things out to see what works best, since I have very little gardening experience.

Hippie Girl said...

I know those leafy greens are cold weather ones but do you still have to cover the planters at night or do you think the seeds will be safe as is? Our northern ontario climate is probably the same as yours in Alberta.

Correne said...

Just wanted to let you know about this:

http://reelwaste.com/

A 4-day film festival on garbage, right here in our own city. It looks AWESOME! I am going to try to figure out which days I can attend. Sunday for sure, but I'd like to go to one more.

creme brulee aka GH said...

theresa, excellent idea. the home-made dryer is prompting me to consider dried fruit as an onboard snack during upcoming motorcycle trip to Halifax.

gah

ruralaspirations said...

Wow, I had no idea you could do this so easily. And when the weather is still not-so-good! Please keep us posted on your food-drying experiments. I will be following with interest!

Theresa said...

Hippie - I'm sort of counting on the seeds taking a couple weeks to germinate out there in the planters, since it is still quite chilly. We're expecting snow this weekend even! So I'm just leaving the seeds as is, and seeing what happens.

Correne -thanks for that link!

gah - the dried fruit takes up a lot less room and would probably last quite a long time if it is kept dry - it would be very practical for a trip like that, I'm thinking.

Green Assassin brigade said...

http://www.i4at.org/surv/soldehyd.htm\

Try this for a solar powered dryer.

If you intend on actually using it a lot beefing it up with real materials you could probably get from some kind of reuse store would make it much more durable and hold the heat better.

The addition of a small fan and solar cell would increase air flow and efficiency

Theresa said...

What a great link - thanks! The diagram makes it very clear how to build it, and it could be made very cheaply, for certain.