I too would like info on solar dryers - in this case for Vermont. Our
organic farm grows a great variety of vegetables in the hope that at least
some of them will survive the unpredictable whims of New England weather.
So sometimes we have a surplus of one or more crops and of course so does
everyone else at the same time so the demand is not there. Drying the
surplus for future use or sale or donation to the hungry is an attractive
alternative to composting.
Seems to me sun dried foods are a most natural extension of the sustainable
philosophy. Dried food keeps for many months without refrigeration (even
after opening the container) it can be shipped cheaply since it is so
lightweight, it can retain more nutritive value than canned or frozen food.
I speak from experience, not from ad reading: We purchased a fair quantity
of fruit, vegetables, and even meat, in bulk containers while sailing round
the world some years ago. We were impressed by the near fresh flavor of most
products. Unfortunately they were very expensive, designed for a target
market of affluent yachtsmen (unlike us) and wilderness campers.
The homesteader's catch-all book Back to Basics (a Readers Digest
publication, believe it or not) has two pages on solar drying and refers to a
design by Leandre Poisson, a "sun enthusiast" in New Hampshire. Our copy was
published in 1981 and does not mention Monsieur Posson's age.
By the way, in a book whose title and author escape me (maybe something by
Wendell Berry?) I read about the author's travels in Peru, in the mountainous
areas where the peasants grow wondrously diverse crops in tiny patches of
steep mountainside which they keep in place with rocks and nurture with
manure. There is a brief mention of watching from a distance as farmers
worked at "FREEZE-DRYING potatoes" - and also a description of the delectable
finished product. I can understand the drying but how did they do the
freezing part? Much too primitive an area for electricity.
I am now reading "Fields Without Dreams - Defending the Agrarian Idea" by
Victor Hanson - fascinating. Chapter 2 has a lot to say about how raisins
are made: 50% of the world's raisins come from his part of the Central
Valley of California. It is the ONLY area in the whole U.S. that has the
right temperature for the right length of time at the right season for
natural outdoor drying - the grapes are simply picked, spread out on paper
trays on the vineyard ground, and watched and checked and rolled while the
sun does its work - but a hair-raising time it is, because too much sun or
too much cloud or a single rainshower at the wrong time in those crucial
weeks can ruin the entire crop. A Must Read.
Didn't mean this to be so long - solar food drying could solve a lot of
problems in many areas and I have seen very little written about it.
Perhaps we will apply for a SARE research grant. My son is an expert in
reverse refrigeration and has ideas for this application.
Best to all, Betty Gras