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How do I make a DIY Food Dehydrator?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

We have a huge garden that's growing far far more than we expected. As a result we would like to dehydrate a lot of it. Somethings we have been dehydrating out in the nice Texas sun (like our hot peppers) but other things need a more controlled dehydration process (like fruits which would attract a lot of bugs).

 

I remember when I was a child that our next door neighbors had a dehydrator that they had made out of wood and window screens. It worked really really well. My husband and I would like to make one that would be large enough to accommodate a decent volume of fruits, vegetables, herbs and everything else we want to dry. But I cant seem to find any plans on line for a larger cabinet style dehydrator. Does anyone know how to make one?  My husband is an electrical engineer so wiring is not a problem but using power tools (a recent purchase) is a new thing for him and I have limited experience myself. So we are hoping for fairly easy plans but one that has many shelves and not something that will leave us totally out of our league :)

post #2 of 17

http://www.ehow.com/how_5151093_make-homemade-food-dehydrators.html

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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

Ahh thanks but not interested in one whose main supplies are fishing line and duct tape LOL.  We want one that can be used reliably for many years.  Thanks.

post #4 of 17

ok i thought i would try

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post #5 of 17

For the past couple of weeks, I also have been thinking about making one.  No real plans yet, but I am checking out the DIY cabinet incubators for inspiration.....  Frame some screening material for the sides.  You could either use a heating element (heat tape looks simple) or an old fashioned incandescent light bulb.  Then add a couple of computer fans.  I am not sure what to use for  trays though.  It would be nice if they could fit in the dishwasher, nothing that will rust, heavy duty would be best......still thinking on that.  It would be smart to keep all the electric parts at the top of the unit in case something drips.

 

I checked out the dehydrators at Cabello.  They were pricey and seemed cheaply made....kinda fragile...and difficult to clean.

post #6 of 17
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Ok.. Update on our food dehydrator search. *sigh* its not going well at all!!

 

Aldis has them for like 15 usd right now. We bought one, brought it home.. plugged it in.. and NOTHING. It did nothing at all. So we took it back and they gave us another one. Tried the new one this morning... ooh it heated up alright. Enough so that within 40 mins it nearly caught fire!! The heating element over heated and started melting the connection point between the metal heating thing and the thing it sticks into. Not only melt... but smoking ... the tray above it also started to melt. If we had left it on it could have burned our house down!! Thank god we didn't turn it on before bed.

 

So it went back. The store owner spoke with us and said that so far in the past week that they have been selling them hes already gotten 5 back with similar complaints as our two. Either they don't work or they catch fire. Good lord. Pull them off the shelves already!

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZBootsie View Post

Here is a link that I bookmarked.  http://www.instructables.com/id/Inexpensive-Food-Dehydrator-with-Recycled-Parts/

Yeah I saw that one earlier but its just not big enough. We have a huge garden. I would have to make 10 of those at least to handle the volume.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZBootsie View Post

For the past couple of weeks, I also have been thinking about making one.  No real plans yet, but I am checking out the DIY cabinet incubators for inspiration.....  Frame some screening material for the sides.  You could either use a heating element (heat tape looks simple) or an old fashioned incandescent light bulb.  Then add a couple of computer fans.  I am not sure what to use for  trays though.  It would be nice if they could fit in the dishwasher, nothing that will rust, heavy duty would be best......still thinking on that.  It would be smart to keep all the electric parts at the top of the unit in case something drips.

 

I checked out the dehydrators at Cabello.  They were pricey and seemed cheaply made....kinda fragile...and difficult to clean.

What ever you do DONT get the one at Aldi's! It nearly burned our house down. At this point we are willing to do pricy as long as it wont burn our place down!

post #10 of 17

Alton Brown show how to make one out of furnace filters and a box fan.  He's my hero!  lol

he puts the jerky strips on the filters, in the corrugations.  Then stacks the filters together with an empty one on top. 

Lay your box fan down on the table, so it would blow the air upwards.  Set the stack of filters on top of the blan and use bungee cords to hold them in place.

Then, put the fan in the window, blowing out so you don't smell up the house, and turn on for 8 to 12 hours.

 

I have an American Harvester dehydrator that I use alot.

Dyhydrated apples, cherries and apricots last couple of weeks for making granola mix and for freezing for muffins, cakes, etc. this winter.  Dehyrated food keeps longer in the freezer and takes up less space.

Tonight I am laying in some beef jerky - caught a really good sale on a chuck roast so I am making it for hunting season.

 

I would like to make a Solar Food Dryer one of these years.  Basically it is a wooden box with shelves and a door on the back.  The racks are simple wooden frames with screening material.  A screened opening on top to let the moisture air out.  The lower extended portion is an open box that is painted black inside and covered in glass or plastic.  This lower box opens into the bottom of the "food box".  An opening at the very bottom is the air intake and is screened to keep out bugs. 

How it works:  As the sun warms up the air in the lower box, the hot air rises through the food to escape out the top.  As long as the sun is shining, your dehydrator is working.

 

I will do a slight change up for the heat collector.  I will make a stack of aluminum sodacans that have the tops and bottoms cut out, and then glued together into stacks.  These will be painted black and installed into the lower box.  The air within these "vent pipes" will heat up and rise through the food to vent out the top.  This way, if the black paint off gases at all, those gases will be not be flowing through the food.  However, with this set-up, I will need to make sure that the lower box is sealed properly to the "food box". 

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