Lawn and Garden

Solar Produce Dryer

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Solar Produce Dryer

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

A solar dryer is a drying tool that makes it possible to air-dry produce even when conditions are less than ideal. This dryer is easy to make, lightweight and is space efficient. The dryer makes a great addition to your self-sufficient home, allowing you to use your outdoor space for more than gardening. The dryer, which is made of cedar, utilizes a salvaged window for completion. But you will have to adjust the dimensions given here for the size window that you find.

The key to successful solar drying is to check the dryer frequently to make sure that it stays in the sun. If the air becomes cool and damp, the food will become a haven for bacteria. In a sunny area, your produce will dry in a couple days. Add a thermometer to the inside of your dryer box, and check on the temperature frequently—it should stay between 95 and 145°F.

You may choose to dry any number of different produce in the dryer, such as: tomatoes, squash, peppers, bananas, apples.

solar dryer diagram

Solar Dryer Cutting List

How to Build a Solar Produce Dryer

  1. HI06100901

    Attach the wider boards for the frame by driving 2" screws through the faces of the 1 × 8" boards into the ends of the 1 × 6" boards. There will be a difference in height between these pairs of boards so that the window sash can sit flush in the recess created.

  2. HI06100902

    Staple the screen to the frame. Then tack the retainer strips over the screen to the frame with 3 to 4 brad nails per side. Trim off the excess mesh.

  3. HI06100903_ret

    Attach each 24" board to a 30" board (in the back) and a 22" board (in the front) with 1½" deck screws. Then attach the finished posts to the frame with three 1½" deck screws in each post.

  4. HI06100902inset

    In each 1 × 6" board, drill three 1" holes for ventilation, equally spaced along the length of the board, leaving 5" of room on each end for the posts. Staple leftover insect mesh behind the ventilation holes on the inside of the frame.

  5. HI06100904

    Finish the project by sliding the window sash into place.