Introduction: High Volume Food Dehydrator Racks

If you have a lot of herbs, fruits and vegetables, you've probably thought of drying or dehydrating them. You could go out and buy a purpose built dehydrator, but the problem is that it does only one thing, and it does that one thing poorly. Why? dehydrators use a heating element to speed along the process because they don't contain a fan that sufficient for drying foods.

Some people recommend just using an oven. However, that bakes the food, not dehydrating it gently.

No, what we need is airflow - and a lot of it. You've probably already got something up for the task and that's a box fan. Now this Instructable will show you how you can neatly and efficiently turn that in a massive food dehydrator!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

For this you'll need:
Non-metallic door screen
1" x 2" wood boards

The tools and supplies I used was:
Tape measure
Mitre saw
Hand stapler and 10 mm staples
Air powered stapler (could use nails or screws)
Hammer
Scissors
Wood Glue

Step 2: Cutting the Frame

Measure the length of your fan and cut the wood boards appropriately. Since the fan is square, you'll need four pieces with a 45 degree cut on each end for each frame you want to build.

Step 3: Glueing and Assembling

Apply a small amount of wood glue to each corner and clamp the corner together. Use your air stapler or other fasteners to securely fasten the corners together.

Repeat for all four corners remember to ensure your frame is flat and not skewed.

Step 4: Applying the Screen

Lay the screen across the frame and staple ever two inches along the frame. Cut off any excess.

You're done! Stack the frames and start drying!

Comments

author
lovemeiris (author)2014-03-24

I really like this :). How long does it take to dry the food?

author

Of course it varies depending on what your trying to dry, but I did tomatoes sliced about half as thin as normal sandwich tomato slices and it took 3 days. They got dry (well not cracker crisp but like a raisin you know) but they went bad as they were drying. I'd say if your going to do tomatoes either make the slices ultra thin or add in some heat and or an additional fan. I'm thinking a space heater in a bathroom or shed would help out a lot. You could go crazy if you want and add in a dehumidifier. I am wondering if you just pureed food and set the fan on top of a tray blowing downwards if you could make vegetable/fruit fruit rollups.

author
wazzup105 (author)2014-03-24

Do keep the red and yellow chili's separated after you've dried and crunched them up. I couldn't tell the difference anymore so I put them together in a pepper-grinder... Now as long as you know what you've just done it's not a big deal, just use less... but because I didn't know that first meal was quite unpleasant :) (then it sank in what must have happened)

author
JettaKnight (author)wazzup1052014-03-24

Cayenne get sent through a food processor then put inot a shaker jar. Thai Dragon and Szechuan get put whole into a paper bag.

The yellow one is the picture? I don't remember what those are.

author
wazzup105 (author)JettaKnight2014-03-24

The yellow ones look like Madame Jeanette.

author
acicigoi (author)2014-03-23

would this work for beef jerky???

author
JettaKnight (author)acicigoi2014-03-23

Yup! I have made several batches using this setup. The best part is the house smells like delicious meat for 24 hours!

However, the screen isn't the best material since it lets the marinade drip all over the fan. I would recommend furnace air filters (the cheap paper kind), at least one for the bottom.

author
batonas (author)2014-03-22

did the same thing just used metal angles and screws for the frame and fiberglass net, and I've made a box with a propeler for faster drying.

author
rolltidehank (author)2014-03-21

Thanks!

author
neo71665 (author)2014-03-21

I would suggest uncoated metal screen over plastic screen which will fume chemicals or fiberglass screen which can leave glass fibers and fume chemicals in the food.

author
xsinisax (author)2014-03-21

How long it take for dehydrating for example, apples??? And how much energy this ventilator using?

author
rolltidehank (author)2014-03-21

Is there a heating element?

author
JettaKnight (author)rolltidehank2014-03-21

Nope. Strictly drying with air - we want to dry the food, not cook it.

If you'd indoors with modest humidity this produces the best results, but not the fastest.

author
Costarus (author)2014-03-21

Good idea. I made the Dehydrator from the old refrigerator. Added fan and air heating

Screenshot_47.jpg
author
Lancelotlink (author)2014-03-21

Nice! I remember Alton Brown did this with cellulose based home air filters that you just bungee cord attach to a box fan and let 'r rip. But I love this. They're reusable. Also, if you use the PVC boards for the sides, then the equipment could be sterilized.

author
lime3D (author)2014-03-21

Excellent. I use the same technique to dry glued or painted objects.

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