|The accessories kit included drying racks and parchment |
paper, as well as two enameled cooking post with lids.
July is blueberry harvest so blueberries were a good choice for my first experiment. Solar cooking is a moist cooking method, so it is important to vent the moisture. This is done by resting the oven lid on top of the latches.
|Latches used to vent moisture.|
At night the lid is secured tightly, and the process is resumed the next day. The biggest challenge was keeping the oven temp low enough. Recommended dehydrating temperatures are 100 - 150° F / 38 - 65° C. If aimed at the sun, my Sun Oven easily reaches temps of 325 - 350° F / 165 - 175° C. Even aiming away from the sun didn't guarantee low enough temps.
Fortunately we had low humidity for several days. After 48 hours, the top rack had dried perfectly,
|Blueberries after 48 hours in the solar oven/dehydrator.|
but only the top rack. It took a couple more days to get the rest of them dried properly.
The biggest problem was that this tied up the oven for quite a few days. I use my solar oven every day for cooking, if there is sun, so not being able to was an inconvenience in that regard.
Humidity is a big factor for dehydrating here anyway. Even in my electric Excalibur I can't make crispy veggie chips; they start becoming soft as soon as they cool off. Things still keep however, which is good.
I think this experiment was successful enough that I would consider building a dedicated solar dehydrator in the future, rather than use the solar oven. There are some nifty DIY dehydrator plans here. I'm sure I'll have some spare time to do that within the next decade or so.