Your Giant Solar Food Dehydrator
Would you like to dehydrate a lot of vegetables or fruit for free? As in no electricity, no building or buying a dehydrator? If you have an automobile or a truck that you can park in the sun, you own a giant solar food dehydrator!
If you've ever opened the door to a vehicle that's been sitting in the summer sun for an hour, you know how hot solar energy can make it! A car is a giant solar heat absorber that, with a few adjustments, could even be made to cook food, solar style. Since that much heat would damage the interior and probably release dangerous chemicals into your food, using it as a solar oven is not a good idea.
However, using it for a giant solar food dehydrator is a good idea. The interior of a car won't get hot enough to cause chemicals to release into the air or to cause physical damage to the interior of the car under normal circumstances. That makes it a perfect solar dehydrator that you can use for free.
Cautions about using your car as a solar dehydrator
Using your car as a solar dehydrator means that the smell of whatever you're dehydrating will stay in the car until the food is removed and the car is aired out. It also means that you probably won't be driving for at least a full day and sometimes two days because it can take that long to dehydrate the food.
How to use your car as a solar dehydrator
Leave two windows open about two inches, on opposite sides, one in the front and one in the back. This will allow air to circulate and moisture to escape the same way an electric dehydrator works.
If you've used a dehydrator before, solar or not, you know to slice or dice food into more or less uniform and thin pieces and to arrange it so that it isn't touching. Exceptions are diced food, which can be stirred now and then for more even dehydrating.
All you need is a dehydrator tray or rack of some sort, preferably with a mesh or screen bottom for air circulation. Your solar dehydrator will dry food on a tray with a solid bottom, but you may have to turn it over during the process. If you're drying many small pieces like chopped vegetables, you can just stir them around now and then.
If you want to use solar energy to dry wet food, like melons or cucumbers, put a layer of cotton cloth in the bottom of the tray to keep it from sticking. If the food sticks to the cloth, it will be easier to peel off without tearing it to shreds.
Put the trays on the rear deck or the front dash to get the most from solar heat. If you want to put one on the seat, put blocks or something around the edges to lift it. Because seats are deep into the interior, there won't be much air circulation unless it's raised from the surface. You can use any flat surface in the car and fill it to the brim with food as long as you keep that in mind.
There's no need to buy a solar dehydrator when you already have one!