This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
These plans were painstakingly complied by Anne Louise Gockel . Prices are
included, but are dated. The last several items
are posts from people in rec.food.preserving and misc.consumers.frugal-living.
A Make it yourself dryer that is set on a table. Described in full in
Circular #855 "How to Build a Portable Electric Food Dehydrator" by Dale E.
Kirk, Agricultural Engineer, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Directions for building this dryer are also contained in USDA H&G Bulletin
217, "Drying Foods at Home", 1977. [From ALG: This dryer offers about
8.5 feet of tray surface and handles about 18 lbs, of fruit or vegetables.
Basically it is a plywood box that holds 5 screen trays above the heat
source, which is nine 75 watt light bulbs. The heat is dispersed by a
shield and forced upward through the trays of food by an 8" household
--Solar Dehydrator Plans:
"Solar Energized Food Dehydrator" $15.00. Order from: Solar Survival/
Cherry Hill Rd/ Harrisville, NH 03450
"How to Build a Solar Food Dryer" $3.00. Order from: Benson Institute
B-49/ Brigham Young University/ Provo UT 84602
"Drying Food", from Blair and Ketchum's Country Journal. Sept 1981
"Build PM's Solar Food Dryer", from Popular Mechanics, Jan 1979
"A Build-It Incubator/Dryer", from Organic Gardening, July 1979
"Solar Dehydrator", from Popular Science, Oct 1976
(From ALG: I have this article; it's just a quick one-page description and
a single illustration)
--Electric Dehydrator Plans:
"How to Build a Portable Electric Food Dehydrator" (EC #855, $0.75)
Agricultural Communications Publications Orders/ Administration Building #422/
Oregon State University/ Corvallis, Oregon 97331-2119. Reprinted in Hort-
iculture, August 1980. (From ALG: I think this is the set of plans I have;
they are fairly complete and look like a good set of plans. They could be
made by someone with reasonable handyman skills. It think it requires the
cook to manually inspect the temperature and adjust the openings to adjust
"Step By Step to a Food Dehydrator", by David Ashe. Better Homes and
Gardens. July 1977
"Super Dehydrator Does Much More", by J Stephens. Organic Gardening and
Farming, Aug 1977
"Build Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Dryer", by R. S. Hedin. Popular Mechanics,
May 1976. (From ALG: I have this article; this is a serious dehydrator.
Uses two 600-watt heaters to maintain a temperature of about 120 F and will
dry a load in about 12 hours; twelve screens provide a drying area of 14.5
square feet. The drying cabinet is made of 3/8" particle board. There's a
blower and an "air safety switch" and this is one *serious* project.)
--Dryer Plans from University Extension Services:
1. Agricultural Engineering Extension/ 325 Riley-Robb Hall (ALG:/* hmmm, does
Riley Robb still exist?)/ Cornell University/ Ithaca NY 14853. 607-256-2280
/* DEFINITELY a bad phone number!!!!
Plan No 6252: $2.00: This "Cassette Fruit Drier" is a portable cabinet 18"x
24"x21" and with a heater and fan to dry four aluminum screen trays of fruit.
Isometric drawing is shown with door and hasp removed. Notes specify 750 to
1500 watt heater with adjustable thermostat and independent operation of fan.
Plan No 6244. $2.00: Plan shows a "Solar Fruit Drier" which is tilted box
4'x4'x1' on legs with slots for natural ventilation. Four trays, 2" deep
inside the black box, a vinyl or polyethylene box cover and joint details
are shown. 2 sheets.
Plan No 6202. $3.00: This "Fruit Drier" has two electrical core resistance
heaters, an 80 cfm fan and five slide-out trays in a 2' cubicle plywood box.
Shown are a general view, sections, back view with removable panel to plenum
chamber and wiring diagrams. A bill of materials and suggested fruit drying
procedure is included. 4 sheets.
2. I have this last one and it's "developed by the fruit substation,
Clarksville, and the Agricultural Engineering Dept, University of Arkansas,
Plan no 731001." This model has a thermostat that will turn the heaters on
and off. It looks pretty sophisticated. However I don't think it has a
temperature control, just an "on/off" control. It's 4 blueprint sheets of
drawings and notes.
3. Two proud innovators in rec.food.preserving...
Sorry, I have no plans, but my husband and I built a good dehydrator years
ago. We solved the problem of relatively inexpensive trays by having them
fabricated at a glass shop around the corner. They used (not sure what it is
called by pros) screen frame stock and screen fabric. These were built in the
size that we needed, and were stable enough to support the drying foods. As I
recall, they were quite inexpensive, could have been even more so if we had
bought the stock and done the work ourselves. Let me know if you use this
suggestion and how it works for you. Betty Kohler (using my son's account)
From: Paul Opitz
After building a plywood dehydrator cabinet (2 x 2 x 4 feet!), I, too, had a
problem finding suitable trays that didn't cost the big bucks. Found a good
solution: fluorescent light box diffusers. You can find these at lighting
supply stores or at large building supplies (I found 'em at Home Depot).
These have a 1/2-inch grid, are plastic (but are ok for relatively high
temperature), come 2 x 4 foot 'slats', and are easy to cut to size. Also,
I've noticed absolutely no taste (like you can get from some metal screens)
and you can just toss 'em in the dishwasher to clean.
For smaller foods (peas, corn, ...) I place crochet 'cloth' (plastic sheets
about 10 x 14 inches with tiny holes) I got at Cloth World over the main
trays. For liquids I use a teflon-coated cookie sheet. I had one problem
when I overloaded the tray and it broke (was spanning 2 feet with only end
supports and put 4 lbs of beef for jerky on the tray). I added a center sup-
port to the dehydrator, and have had no problems since.
As to dehydrator design, I just made a cube out of plywood. The pieces are
screwed into 2x2s (take the plywood away and it would look like a 2 x 2 x 4-
foot cube wireframe made out of 2x2s). Added a hot plate I got for $10 at
Incredible Universe and a surplus 6-inch computer fan I had already.
Temperature control is achieved using a modified electronic aquarium
thermostat (range of 90 - 160 F).
Several holes drilled at top and bottom sides for some air exchange, and
presto! The entire thing cost about $80 (mostly for the plywood) and can
simultaneously dehydrate a LOT of food.
I've made black bean soup, jerky, spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup, huevos
rancheros casserole, fruit juice leather, fruit pemmican... All turned out
much better than the freeze-dried stuff at the stores.
And finally, an amazing idea from a couple on
From: John and/or Mari Morgan
We had great fun with what we called "the rolling fruit dryer" - my 1981
Chevette hatchback. In the summer, the temp would get over 120F inside if it
was sitting in the sun. So I put the back seat down, spread fruit on trays,
and set it in the hatch section. I covered it with cheesecloth to keep flies
off and left one window about 1/2" open to let some air circulate. Fruit
dried in one day, parked in the sun. Made the car smell nice too! Try it
next summer (or if you live in a sunny climate) if you have a hatchback car.