Friday, September 7, 2012

The Solar Food Dryer

It really is fun and rewarding to work with and prepare your own food. It provides an air of freedom and a sense of limitless possibility. When I first considered preparing for a life with less, for the end of economic growth, I imagined how it would be possible to feed myself throughout the year. Obviously there needed to be some sort of food preservation as I live in a cold climate and cannot rely on hunting to sustain me through the winter months.

Drying food is a very easy and energy cheap way to preserve food. While it is not as convenient as having an actual food dryer, it can be done with no accessories, in the sun. However, that is not necessarily practical when trying to preserve enough food to sustain one through the winter months. So I built a solar food dryer. It uses light from the sun to create heat and convection which dries the food. The one I built is fairly large and can dry quite a bit of food at once.

 As it is powered by the sun, it uses no energy besides that which was required to produce the parts. It runs for free, for as long as it lasts and as long as the sun shines. Since I have planted several fruit trees on the farm, the food is in essence, free. This is a perfect example of how humans can live in harmony with the planet letting mother nature do most of the work.

I planted one peach tree on the farm last year and this year we got fifty-five delicious peaches from the tree. It is still small, so when it is in full production, I imagine it will produce hundreds and hundreds of delicious, sweet peaches.

What I needed to prepare the peaches was just a fairly sharp knife, a pair of pliers and a cutting board. The process begins with picking and sorting. We certainly aren't going to waste any peaches just because a couple birds got their share, those we will keep for cobbler or other treats. But for drying, we want only the best. Once we have them sorted out we will want to wash all of the peach fuzz and any dirt or dust off of them.

Now, to prepare them for drying we want to slice them in thin slices in the same direction as a pineapple is sliced. To begin, make the first cut evenly through the center letting the knife rest on the pit. Once you have completed the cut you can now separate the two halves and the pit will be stuck in one of them. Now use the pliers to remove the pit from the one half. When slicing the peaches, start at the small end and work your way toward the larger end. This will make it easier to hold while cutting.

Once you have them all sliced, they are ready to go in the dryer. Make sure they do not touch when you put them in the dryer otherwise they may stick together as they dry. Currently we still have some plumbs drying but luckily I had enough room for the peaches.

We have 11 fruit trees on the farm, two cherry, two apple, two plumb, one cherry plumb, one peach and three pear trees. We also have an almond tree and a very little walnut tree that I hope to live long enough to see become a giant. With all of this potential fruit, we will be putting the solar food dryer to good use for sure.

If you have any property, even a small back or front yard, consider planting a fruit tree. They provide all the benefits of an ornamental tree along with an abundance of free, delicious fruit. And if you do not have any property, plant a fruit tree somewhere else where you can visit it or where others can benefit from its bounty. There is far too much energy, time and resources spent on maintaining plants for the sake of vanity when millions of people go hungry everyday.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dicks

futurereferencefarm @

Video of the farm

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