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Food drying as food gathering has been one of mankind’s basic instincs for survival. When the first frosts began to bring the coolness of winter closer, the necessity to keep warm and store of the harvest became the prime concern for continuing existence. The burden of providing grains, vegetables, fruits and game for the winter table, as well as seeds for the next planting season, usually fell to the woman. She found ways to preserve by cooking, boiling, bottling, juicing, jellying and drying.
Of these methods, the oldest, simplest, most natural and economical is drying. Sun drying for the American-Indian and other early pioneers was as standard as canning is today. For these migrators who moved from hunting ground to hunting ground, the constant problem of preserving any surplus foodstuff was done by drying.
Dry foods were lightweight, less bulky, and could be preserved longer; a truly precious commodity by which whole communities survived. With hot water and processing equipment belonging to another distant time space, these early women adapted their food, preserving needs in harmony with nature providing by drying with sunpower in their open space kitchens.
In comparison to canning, solar food drying is a very safe and economical way to process foods. Since my first experiences with food drying, I have continued to increase the use of dehydrating. I produce half of my family’s table needs via dry fruits and vegetables. An average season will produce two bushels of apples, one bushel each of pears, peaches and plums, as well as my entire harvest yield of zucchini, squash, pumpkin, green tomato, carrots, dill, mint, rosehip, chili and a hind quarter of elk. In between seasons I manage bananas, more apples, or plums. The other half of what I store is raw packed, and hot bathed fruit and pickles.
Solar food drying needs only one-fourth of the space canned foods need, and have a shelf life four or five times greater. There are no stoves, pans, pressure gauges, jars, lids, syrups or spices. You need not pressure or sulfer your foods of their vitamis. Drying foods, skin and all, help keep food nutrition values high. When completely dehydrated, produce will lose 90 to 99 percent of their water content. Food spoilers such as molds and yeast cannot function without the presence of large amounts of moisture. According to U.S.D.A research, dry foods usually contain about 2.5 to 4 percent of water content depending on the produce. Safe moisture contents range from 10 percent for fruits to 20 percent for vegetables. Most reference sources I consulted are opinionated in different directions as to the need for treatment by sulfering, blanching and over pasteurization.
This informative report can help you take advantage of these benefits by teaching you how to make your own DIY solar food dryer. Illustrations are available to guide you all throughout the process. Don’t wait until it’s winter or there’s an emergency situation. Make a DIY solar food dryer today and make your own dried foods.
- Building the solar food dryer
- Preparation, processing and storing dry food stuffs
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