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how to build a food dehydrator


How to Build a Food Dehydrator


Food dehydration is an ancient technique that has been used for thousands of years to preserve food. With the advancement in technology, food dehydrators have become a popular appliance in households across the world. While store-bought dehydrators are readily available, building your own can be a rewarding and cost-effective project. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of building a food dehydrator from scratch.

Choosing the Right Design

Before you start building your food dehydrator, you need to decide on the design that suits your needs the best. There are various designs to choose from, including box, stackable, and solar dehydrators. Consider factors such as the amount of space available, the types of food you plan to dehydrate, and your budget. Each design has its own advantages, so make sure to choose one that aligns with your requirements.

Materials Needed

1. Plywood or thick cardboard: For the construction of the box or frame.

2. Shelves or racks: To hold the food and allow proper airflow.

3. Plastic mesh or food-grade silicone sheets: To place on the racks to prevent food from falling through.

4. Heat source: Depending on the design, you can use an electric hot plate, an incandescent light bulb, or the sun.

5. Ventilation system: Consisting of vents or fans to ensure proper air circulation.

Building Process

1. Step 1: Constructing the Frame

- Measure and cut the plywood or thick cardboard into the desired size.

- Assemble the pieces to form a box shape, ensuring that all edges are properly aligned.

- Secure the corners with nails or screws for added stability.

2. Step 2: Creating Shelves or Racks

- Measure and cut the shelves or racks to fit inside the frame.

- Place the shelves evenly inside the frame, leaving enough space between each shelf for airflow.

3. Step 3: Installing Plastic Mesh or Food-Grade Silicone Sheets

- Cut the plastic mesh or food-grade silicone sheets to match the size of the shelves.

- Lay the mesh or sheets onto the shelves, making sure they are secure and flat to hold the food.

4. Step 4: Adding the Heat Source

- Depending on the design, choose an appropriate heat source.

- For an electric dehydrator, install an electric hot plate at the bottom of the frame.

- If using an incandescent light bulb, mount it in the center of the frame, ensuring it is securely fixed.

- For a solar dehydrator, position the frame in direct sunlight.

5. Step 5: Incorporating Ventilation

- Cut small ventilation holes or install fans at the top and bottom of your dehydrator.

- Ensure that the holes or fans allow air to circulate effectively without compromising the sturdiness of the frame.

Tips for Optimal Food Dehydration

Now that your food dehydrator is built, here are some valuable tips to ensure successful food dehydration:

1. Slice fruits and vegetables evenly: For uniform drying, slice your produce into equal thicknesses. This will ensure that all pieces dry at the same rate.

2. Pre-treat certain foods: Some fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, benefit from pre-treatment to retain their color and prevent oxidation. Options for pre-treatment include lemon juice, saltwater solutions, or blanching.

3. Arrange food pieces with space in between: When placing food on the shelves or racks, ensure there is enough space for air to circulate around each piece. Overcrowding can lead to uneven drying and potential spoilage.

4. Monitor and rotate: Check on your food periodically during the dehydration process. Rotate the trays if necessary to ensure all pieces dry evenly.

5. Store properly: Once your food is fully dehydrated, store it in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags. Keep it in a cool, dark place to maintain its quality and extend its shelf life.


Building your own food dehydrator provides a rewarding and cost-effective way to preserve your favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a custom-made dehydrator that suits your needs and fits within your budget. Remember to choose the design that aligns with your requirements, and follow the tips for optimal food dehydration. Now, enjoy the taste of homemade dehydrated food all year round!


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