How to Dehydrate Foods in a Solar Oven

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Any solar oven can be converted into a dehydrator with the use of a solar oven dehydrator kit. Solar ovens cook the food rather than dry it because of the high temperatures that they reach. But a solar dehydrator kit controls the temperature of the oven in order to allow you to dehydrate the food and store it.

In the simplest of terms, dehydrating food is removing the moisture content from the food. This will inhibit the growth of microorganisms which are the primary contributing factor in the decaying process. So drying the food and removing the water will prolong and preserve the life of the food.

Dehydrating food is becoming more popular as the world’s fickle climate has begun changing the growing seasons and food production. The increased number of natural disasters around the world coupled with the worldwide financial instability has caused people to realize that their futures are not as secure as they once were and are taking steps to insure against the growing storm of unrest and instability around the globe. Food storage and emergency supplies are starting to catch on with people who once mocked those who had warned of the thing to come: “…the end of the world as we know it!”

In addition to food storage many are investing in alternative sources of food preparation: camp stoves operated on propane or kerosene, and various models of solar ovens. Another popular survival tool is the solar dehydrator kit or sun oven dehydrator kit. Like most dehydrators on the market, they require electricity. In the event of a manmade or natural disaster, electrical power grids are the first energy sources to be affected. Solar sun ovens and solar dehydrator kits which operate on the inexhaustible energy of the sun are catching on for good reason.

Dehydrating or drying food is not difficult. You simply place the food you desire to dehydrate into the solar dehydrator and the hot circulating air does the rest. The most important thing to remember is that the temperature should never exceed 200 degrees F. or your food will begin to cook rather than dry out.

Why dehydrate foods?
• Dehydrated foods will last longer because they do not need refrigeration. Even canned goods, if not eaten right away, will spoil without refrigeration after they have been opened.

• You can take advantage of your own garden or locally grown produce rather than fruits and vegetables that have been picked early while green to allow for the time needed to ship and stock.
• You are assured the food is free of pesticides, etc., because you know where it came from.
• You are able to take advantage of the specials on seasonal produce by saving money on purchasing larger quantities than what you are able to use while the food is fresh.
• Dried food takes up a fraction of the space that frozen or canned food does.
• Dried food is good for the environment because it eliminates the energy and materials used in the processing and packing process.
• Dried foods are delicious, more fragrant and colorful, nutritious, easily prepared, lightweight and easy to carry and store.
What about the nutritional value?
Dehydration affects the nutritional value of the food minimally. When compared to canning or freezing food, dehydration is the least destructive food preparation process.
• During the drying process, vitamin A is retained. Because vitamin A is affected by light, it is best to store these type foods in dark places or dark containers.
• Only a small amount of vitamin C is lost when the cut surfaces are exposed to the air.
• Calories remain the same, even though some fruits such as pineapple and bananas seem to taste sweeter, because with the water removed the natural sugar content is concentrated.
• Carbohydrates and fiber are unaffected in the dehydration process.
• Dried fruits and vegetables are low in fat and the mineral content is not affected by drying.

Dehydrated food tastes best if used within the first year of drying; however, if stored in airtight containers in a cool dark place, dehydrated foods can last for several years. Follow the rule of first in/first out and be sure to rotate the product on the shelf always using the oldest food first. Be prepared and store up for the unexpected. Procrastination could shorten your lifespan.

Douglas C. Hoover, CEO of Aquamedia Corp, is a free-lance writer and author. Designed and constructed over 2,000 waterfalls for 30 years in southern California. How-to books, tapes, digital design programs, photo and video gallery. Learn the history of solar ovens, FAQ, how to build your own solar oven, discover the consumers reports and best prices: Solar Dehydrators

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