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 Solar fruit drying 
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Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:18 pm
Posts: 31
Location: Eugene, OR
Post Solar fruit drying
We have been doing solar food drying for many years and have even started a small business around it (www.solarfooddryer.com). Fruit trees in particular are great for any type of drying. They produce in great abundance in a short span of time and it is always a challenge to manage the production without a lot of waste. Have others tried solar drying? I thought I'd initiate a discussion and would love to hear from others having success with this.

Dried apples and pears are fantastic and we solar dry as many as we can. In the Pacific NW we tend to get plenty of sunshine around harvest time, so solar works pretty well. However, backup electric is handy to have if it becomes overcast or rainy.

Semantics: As opposed to "open-air sun drying," solar drying uses a cabinet of some sort to efficiently capture solar energy, direct heat and airflow to the food, and protect everything from weather and pests.


Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:01 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1351
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Solar fruit drying
We have done some drying. Our goumi berries tended to attract small moths, so we stopped. We mostly freeze and can now. I'm sure my quinces would be great dried, but they ripen in October.
John S
PDX OR


Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:17 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1151
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Solar fruit drying
I’ve dried fruit for years, using a ‘commercial’ nine-rack plastic unit, occasionally augmented by a ‘homemade’ plywood, light bulb and fan unit. I dry everything on our unfinished second floor as it’s naturally warm and dry up there most of the fall.

It’s been a great way to preserve my seven trees worth of figs. I’ve also dried persimmons, but must admit, Bartlett pears and ‘overripe marked down’ bananas are some of the tastiest. Apples are nice, with a subtle flavor and a ‘melt in your mouth’ quality.

I’ve not dried either ‘fuzzy’ or ‘hardy’ kiwi, yet ... but felt the hardies would be good candidates, if I didn’t gobble up the crop while fresh. The fuzzies are such good keepers there seems little reason to preserve them.

I’ve gallon glass jars with nice wide lids, former commercial condiment jars. Kept in a cool, dark and dry ‘fruit cellar,’ they may outlast me! They make excellent gifts. Just tell kids it’s a form of ‘fruit leather,’ or ‘natural candy.’

A very important aspect of even home orcharding is having the ability to utilize the fruit when it comes on - and drying’s one of the cheapest and easiest!

Good work and good luck with your business :P

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Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:40 pm
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 5:24 pm
Posts: 126
Location: Puyallup, WA
Post Re: Solar fruit drying
Does the food in your solar dryer retain much color after being in the sun while it dries? I contemplated building a solar food dehydrator with a solar collector down low and a "chimney" cabinet where I place the food. The cabinet would be solid walls with mesh racks that exclude the sun. Would have screen over an air inlet at bottom end of the solar collector and outlet at top to keep out fruit flies.


Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:22 am
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Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:18 pm
Posts: 31
Location: Eugene, OR
Post Re: Solar fruit drying
Hi Dubyadee,

The food we solar dry consistently looks great and has great flavor, which are indicators of high nutrient content. The color looks better than anything I see in stores. We don't blanch or pretreat, but do try to dry food immediately after processing it (washing/slicing). Direct solar drying dries faster than indirect drying, which I believe results in some quality advantage.

I have tried to attach a couple of photos showing our solar-dried apples in the dryer and our dried Asian pears -- both from our yard. Very little browning and outstanding flavor. Other solar-dried food photos of strawberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, and herbs can be found on our website (http://www.solarfooddryer.com).


Attachments:
Dried Asian Pears in Bowl - small file.jpg
Dried Asian Pears in Bowl - small file.jpg [ 203.45 KiB | Viewed 1224 times ]
Dryer with Load of Dried Apples cropped - small file.jpg
Dryer with Load of Dried Apples cropped - small file.jpg [ 254.2 KiB | Viewed 1224 times ]
Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:51 am
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Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:18 pm
Posts: 31
Location: Eugene, OR
Post Re: Solar fruit drying
Found a few more photos showing dried food color: dried peaches and tomatoes. Everything shown is very dry.


Attachments:
Peaches Dried in Jar Closeup LR.jpg
Peaches Dried in Jar Closeup LR.jpg [ 137.69 KiB | Viewed 1154 times ]
Dried Tomatoes on Chopping Board LR.jpg
Dried Tomatoes on Chopping Board LR.jpg [ 171.7 KiB | Viewed 1154 times ]
Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:01 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1351
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Solar fruit drying
Sun dried tomatoes with olive oil are amazingly delicious! Expensive if you don't grow them.

We have been slicing and drying quinces which works quite well. They are amazing croppers. Tons of fruit on a small tree. They are a pretty dry fruit anyway, so they dry quickly and efficiently.
John s
PDX OR


Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:32 pm
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