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Solar Oven Cooking and Food Dehydration - DIY Solar Oven Dehydrator Kit

This article is not about saving tons of money on electrical energy or about transforming normal everyday boring food into gourmet gastronomical delights, it is more about dehydrating food with the inexhaustible energy source of the sun while using a solar sun oven. My first experience at trying this turned out to be anything but successful.

My wife and I have been living full time in a 40-foot motor home for over three years after we sold our house and donated everything to Disabled American Veterans. It has been a ride on the wild side, and part of that ride has been parking, and not always in a camp ground or RV park. If I am parked where there is no access to plug in for shore power, the generator is needed to supply the oven, toaster, microwave etc., including the need to charge the onboard house batteries. Operating the generator four or five times a day for an hour uses diesel and diesel costs even more than gasoline. 
Well, when I cook or bake in an oven, it can take one and a half hours or more. In addition to costing a fortune to bake something we have to contend with the small space, and on a hot summer day it can become very unpleasant. It can be a vicious cycle, heating the RV with the oven or stove and then cooling it back down running the generator to provide power for the air conditioning. 
A year ago Christmas I discovered a solar sun oven and purchased two of them which arrived Christmas Eve, allowing us to try them out for cooking our Christmas dinner. This was the beginning of a love affair with solar cooking and baking. I'll save that delicious story for the next article from the Sun Oven Chef. My first experience at trying to dehydrate food (notice "trying") turned out to be anything but successful. Hey, I thought, people have been using the sun to dry food since Eve sewed a few fig leaves together at the beginning of this story. Okay, I won't keep you in suspense. The sliced bananas cooked onto the drying racks, not on the drying racks, cooked to the racks. The result of this experiment created a process of chemical reactions something akin to the porcelain coating process of camping cookware. It ended up being cheaper to toss the racks than trying to clean them. 
Thank you, Google for "Google search." Aha! You do not dehydrate bananas at 350 degrees F. Some say "tomayto" and some say "tamahto," some say 120-140 degrees F. and some say 145-200 degrees F. I say, How fast do want to dry out the food without incinerating it? Rule of my thumb: jerky at 145-200 degrees... tomatoes and bananas at 120-145 degrees. Here lies the rub: solar ovens do not have a thermostatic control knob to adjust this sensitive window of temperatures.  A solar sun oven has two temperature settings, sunny and shady. So I started experimenting with various techniques and combinations of positioning the oven's alignment to the sun and propping the glass oven door open at differing degrees. Voila, it did not work! However my next attempt proved out. I created a solar oven dehydrator kit... I stuck a small fan at the bottom of the stacked racks and hooked it up to a small solar panel, propped open the door a half inch by turning the door latches inward, allowing the door to rest on them. Now with the fan running, door propped open with the oven pointed directly at the sun as it is when baking, the temperature remains between 120 and 145.  The bananas are crispy and dry and the "tomahtos" turn into dehydrated "tomaytoes." Yeah for solar ovens and solar energy. Go green - tomatoes that isArticle Search, dehydrate 'em!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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. Dehydrating Food



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