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Dehydrating and humidity

 
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Hello fellow permies! I live in Michigan’s upper peninsula and it’s pretty humid here most of the summer and fall, which is obviously when most food preservation takes place. For the last several years, our dehydrator runs several days a week which is very unsustainable. It works great for mushrooms but runs at about 120 degrees which can be a bit hot for herbs and flowers in my opinion. I would love to be able to hang dry stuff, but it just wilts and stays limp for days because of the humidity. Would a solar dehydrator work well in humid weather? Or does anyone have advice for getting stuff to dry in humid weather without it spoiling and without relying on electricity?

Thank you!
 
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Hi Brody, I've had good luck with the Walk radiant solar dehydrator.  It was invented in Minnesota for our humid summers.  Here in northern WI I can dry most things in a sunny summer day or two sunny fall days.  Here's a bit more info.  https://permies.com/t/71002/kitchen/built-Walk-Radiant-Solar-Dehydrator

 
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The dashboard of my car works great for me! And then my car smells like herbs. I have to put them in a jar right away or they will rehumidify somewhat and not crumble easily.
 
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My Sun Oven seems to work ok in the humidity.  It seems to take a little longer, but I haven't timed it to be sure.
 
pollinator
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You almost have to control the humidity of the room you're dehydrating in this time of year. I use a room dehumidifier in a smaller room where I run the food dehydrator. Sucks to use that much energy, but if you don't then you have to blast your food with more heat than you want to for preservation and still it soaks up moisture when cooling before packaging.

Another option is to do the best you can with your dehydrator and use a desiccant in the final packaging. You can buy desiccant beads online that are re-usable (just have to cook the moisture back out of them before re-use.)
 
Brody Ekberg
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Matt Todd wrote:You almost have to control the humidity of the room you're dehydrating in this time of year. I use a room dehumidifier in a smaller room where I run the food dehydrator. Sucks to use that much energy, but if you don't then you have to blast your food with more heat than you want to for preservation and still it soaks up moisture when cooling before packaging.

Another option is to do the best you can with your dehydrator and use a desiccant in the final packaging. You can buy desiccant beads online that are re-usable (just have to cook the moisture back out of them before re-use.)



We only have one dehumidifier and it’s running in the basement now because of moisture down there. Our dehydrator works well enough even in humid weather, I just would like to be able to dry stuff without using electricity. I should build a solar dehydrator and look into getting desiccant beads. We save the silica packs that come with some stuff and throw those in jars of dehydrated mushrooms and they seem to help.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Amy Arnett wrote:The dashboard of my car works great for me! And then my car smells like herbs. I have to put them in a jar right away or they will rehumidify somewhat and not crumble easily.



I haven’t tried that but I should since my car is all black inside and sits in full sun all day. Although I thought sunlight is damaging to a lot if things like herbs. Good for mushrooms though because they soak up vitamin D.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Mike Haasl wrote:Hi Brody, I've had good luck with the Walk radiant solar dehydrator.  It was invented in Minnesota for our humid summers.  Here in northern WI I can dry most things in a sunny summer day or two sunny fall days.  Here's a bit more info.  https://permies.com/t/71002/kitchen/built-Walk-Radiant-Solar-Dehydrator



I think this is the way to go. Since not relying on electricity is a desire for me that pretty much leaves the sun or a wood stove. I think I might make a project out of this!
 
Mike Haasl
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Go for it!  Their website has the actual specs, I just sized mine to some glass I had.  It's quite heavy the way I made it.  And I never use the wheels except to pull it in and out each season.  I may permanently install it and cover it with a tarp for winter in the future.
 
Amy Arnett
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Although I thought sunlight is damaging to a lot if things like herbs.



Good point!

I bet you could just put a towel over them, or hang them in the shady part of the car, and they would dry just as fast. Maybe I will start doing that.

I looked around for papers on the effect of sun vs shade drying, and it seems to be different for each plant ranging from a slight difference to major. It also depends on temperate and duration. Maybe someday I will compile a list when I have more free time.

But if I had that much free time, I would probably make a solar dehydrator:).



 
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I always tell folks in my dryer workshops that if they don't want to go to the trouble of building a solar dryer they can use their car in a pinch. Park it with the biggest window facing the equator, put the food on trays or screens, lay some dark colored cloth over the food (propped above the food is best so it doesn't stick to the food), and open the windows about an inch. You can also use this technique in a greenhouse. The dark cloth helps with heating and keeps most of the UV off the food, preserving nutrients that would otherwise get bleached out. As mentioned earlier mushrooms should be done in direct sun to increase the vitamin D content, especially important for us Northerners for a winter source of the sunshine vitamin.
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