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C5s Stupid Simple Emergency Solar Dehydrator  RSS feed

 
Ross Raven
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The dehydrating I have been doing in the greenhouse has been going fantastic but the amount of wasps I has been attracting made me want to move the operation away from the house incase they decided to stay after the feast was done...so, mid job crunch, I had to improvise quickly. This gave me the opportunity to teach you folks something from my original series on techniques for the poor or under prepared prepper. The simplest way to store food is to dehydrate it. If you have to improvise, recycled window screens work well and your car becomes the solar heat generator. The windows are left open a crack for air circulation. Best if you do this on a windy but sunny day. It may take a few days. The wind blowing through the cracked window whisks the moisture away. If moisture is building up on the windows, open the crack a bit further. Close it overnight. You will still get wasps but they will leave once the food is removed. Today I am dehydrating wind fall apples for winter pig food. The amount of shrinkage\ concentration deeply reduces the storage space required and imperfect apples will not store very long on their own.

We had severe gas shortages this week in our Provence. Something I will talk about in a future post. It left a lot of unprepared people stranded, unable to get to work or provide public services. Some day, this car will be stranded for good. Suddenly it will become a fine dehydrator in the early fall and a useful greenhouse for early plant starts in the spring. All those mondo pickup trucks will also make fine raised bed gardens. LOL
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Bill Erickson
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Ross, you've mentioned your wasp situation a couple of times now. I know you might not have time for it at the moment, but for the future I recommend this thread: http://www.permies.com/forums/t/49618/bugs/Ground-Wasp-Control

It has a couple of really awesome photos of an old school wasp/hornet/yellowjacket trap. Okay, they're my pictures, but the trap was one given to me. There are some other really great ideas in the thread.

As to this adhoc dehydrator of yours - fantastic.
 
Ross Raven
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Thanks BE. Truth is the wasps are quite docile since they are focused on feeding and I'm not a threat to there nest. Like bees, Its sort of empowering being surrounded by them without being stung. I'm cool. They are cool. My dog is not so cool and trying to defend the apples. He probably got stung and is trying to kill all wasps. He knows not to do this with bees from swollen lip experience.

Now that you all see what I am doing, I have to remind you all of a very important rule.

C5 rule of survival- There is a big difference between KNOWING in the Biblical sense and KNOWING in the PORN sense.

(for those that don't get the joke, Homer Simpson said it all. "Knowing" in the biblical sense means having sex, TEHEHE)

You may have saw this and thought "Aha. I am now prepared" . Reality Check. Dehydrating takes practice...or...you could lose everything you worked hard to put into it by mold. Its like the hay farmer that must get the right conditions. You could lose an entire crop if you judge the weather wrong. You need a few days of full dry to get the full job done or you lose it all. That takes experience, hard work once it presents itself...and luck. Dehydrating is fickle here in Canada. The moment a crop comes in the exact moment the weather turns cold or wet. It takes practice and suffering some losses. The other option is carefully storing your crop until your woodstove fires and then repeating this above your stove...or a lamp or your heat vent. If you live in a dry climate, this is easy. If you live in humid conditions or a tropical storm is heading your way...not so much. So you must know in the biblical sense before you try to role around with the really pretty but fickle biatches.

Start with only one or two trays. Heck. Start with one tray and OBSERVE

Its all about judging the heat and airflow. Too much heat and no air flow, its just a solar cooker. Too little heat and you are just flopping flaccid. So, go out and practice from your mistakes long before the really pretty biatch, mother nature, dumps your awkward, inexperience arse.

 
Dan Boone
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I scored some industrial bread pans (like double-sized cookie sheets made from thick aluminum with half-inch sides and rolled edges) for a buck apiece at a garage sale this summer. They aren't as good as screens but in high summer we have no shortage of solar heating and dry conditions, so they still work. I have a derelict van that I mostly use for storage, but it makes a fine solar dehydrator also.
 
Ross Raven
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Dan, you said a lot of the words that would make me think you are hitting on me. LOL. "Industrial", "cookie sheets ", " a buck apiece ", "garage sale", " derelict van".
If you had also said, "Dumpster dive", "School Bus", or "Second Hand Store"...Im sure Mrs C5 would have thought something Ashley Madison was going on and kick me to the curb. These are the words of Survival Luv.

We're Here! We Recycle Gear! Get Used to it! (Why the heck doesn't this site have emoticons to be clever with. Insert cocky smirk here)

Fore those that got confused in the banter, Cookie Sheets. Recycle cookie sheets. Seriously. Add cellophane and think fruit leather...even if its a pumpkin...
 
Dan Boone
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Hah! Yes, we definitely speak the same language. I don't do too much dumpster diving but I did snag five good 5-gallon plastic cooking-oil containers out of a dumpster the other morning; they were right there on top, still wrapped in their original cardboard protective boxes, and who can't use more five gallon jugs?
 
Dan Boone
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More seriously, there's so much fragile plastic crap in the world now, it's really hard to pass up something that's built to last and made out of solid materials. And when it's cheap, that's a bonus.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Ross Raven wrote:Dan, you said a lot of the words that would make me think you are hitting on me. LOL. "Industrial", "cookie sheets ", " a buck apiece ", "garage sale", " derelict van".
If you had also said, "Dumpster dive", "School Bus", or "Second Hand Store"...Im sure Mrs C5 would have thought something Ashley Madison was going on and kick me to the curb. These are the words of Survival Luv.

We're Here! We Recycle Gear! Get Used to it! (Why the heck doesn't this site have emoticons to be clever with. Insert cocky smirk here)

Fore those that got confused in the banter, Cookie Sheets. Recycle cookie sheets. Seriously. Add cellophane and think fruit leather...even if its a pumpkin...


It does! I hope these are cocky enough smirks for ya!

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Ross Raven
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Behold! Emoticons in all their creamy goodness

My plans for world domination are closer to complete Now, with this cookie tray, emoticon access, some binding wire and a tube of K-Y jelly...My death ray is near completion I've said too much.

BUT...I do notice a serious lack of ninja emoticons. I often need a ninja ....and the dancing banana emoticon. It has so many uses....

Thanks Nicole



 
Cj Sloane
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How thick were the apples cut?
 
Cj Sloane
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And where do you live that you have a gas shortage?
 
Nicole Alderman
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Ross Raven wrote:
BUT...I do notice a serious lack of ninja emoticons. I often need a ninja ....and the dancing banana emoticon. It has so many uses....

Thanks Nicole


You're welcome! I also wish there were more variety (perhaps in place of the duplicates ), but what can ya do? But, hey, we might not have a lot of emoticons, but we sure do have some awesome knowledge stored here!
 
Ross Raven
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Cj Verde wrote:And where do you live that you have a gas shortage?


The entire province of Nova Scotia. Its a symptom of a collapsing economy. Lack of capital investment means lack of replacements of infrastructure. The province lost its refinery. That was when the gas price was high. Expect the periphery to move towards the center eventually. here is some news.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/gas-nova-scotia-shortage-stations-1.3211206
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/gas-nova-scotia-shortages-analyst-1.3210993

Soooo : A few weeks back...I did a post on, guess what...Emergency fuel storage. http://www.permies.com/t/49363/survival/SHTF-Road-Warrior-Emergency-Gas Not so crazy now?

It didn't get much attention because I guess Its counter intuitive. Why would people "Transitioning" to a world past peak oil...bother with fuel storage. I guess it just not sexy
 
Cj Sloane
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Ross Raven wrote:Expect the periphery to move towards the center eventually.



Hence doomers keep quoting Yeats "the center can not hold."

I just finished listening to Station Eleven - a great doomer book and I'm trying to shake it off... After the collapse they use airplanes as dehydrators... ah, back on topic.

So how thick were those apple slices?
 
Rose Pinder
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Re the fly screens, I'd add to wash them extremely well to remove fly spray. There are some cars that I wouldn't use as a dehydrator. Ones that have been valeted and smell of perfume, and ones that smell strongly of vinyl (or whatever it is) on a really hot day. Older cars are perfect. I don't know if fresh apples will pick up off gassing as they dry, but it's something I personally would be cautious about. Probably much less of an issue if they're for pig food.

Are the wasps feeding on the drying apples? Is that a problem?
 
Rose Pinder
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What's C5?
 
Ross Raven
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OK. Ill answer some questions before I pass out. Thickness? As thin as possible (This isn't just about apples). Because of the bulk of this job, I just whipped the whole apples through a food processor.

Next. The screens have been washed out in the elements for well over a decade or they wouldn't be recycled. No one puts "Fly spray" on anything. That's paranoid. Smelling perfume is not poison. See my previous statement. If the off gassing air is so terrible that it cant even blow across food...then you probably shouldn't drive in it. These are not things I worry about. Living in a city or sitting in traffic breathing exhaust fumes. Now that's real poison. The amount of beer I drink...far far more so.

And I am C5

As I observe what is drying in the car, I find its going much too slow. I think I have too much inside...so there is too much saturated air for dehydrating to take place. I think I will remove half and put it in another vehicle. What is at the top is drying faster ...so I have to do some rotating. The wasps will take their portion.

So. Its not just about apples. A big bag of carrots, cubed, will shrink down into a little jar once the water is removed. Onions dry fast...but you must really like onions as the smell is going to linger for a while...like a nice perfume.
greens dry really fast. I've just shucked some beans. There is still too much moisture in them so I need to dry them a bit further before they are packed away
 
Rose Pinder
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"The screens have been washed out in the elements for well over a decade or they wouldn't be recycled."

I'm not sure what you mean by that or where your screens came from, I was referring to screens that people might pick up elsewhere eg at the recycle centre. They could be recently removed from a house.

"No one puts "Fly spray" on anything. That's paranoid."

I've seen people use fly spray against flies trapped on the inside of fly screens. For many people this is normal behaviour. One person's paranoia is another person's care and attention to detail.


"Smelling perfume is not poison. See my previous statement. If the off gassing air is so terrible that it cant even blow across food...then you probably shouldn't drive in it."

I agree. If I got into a car that was so hot I could smell the chemicals coming out of the upholstery, I would wind down the window to let the offgassing dissipate. If you can smell something there are physical particles floating in the air that you are inhaling, that's how smell works. For many people that's an insiginificant problem or not a problem at all. For some people, it's the effect of the total load of exposure of chemicals over the day or week or lifetime that is problematic, rather than the understood toxicity of the individual chemical. Dose makes the poison, but so does the person's ability to process the dose. As mentioned, I don't have a sense if this is an issue for the apples and eating them, but it is something I have been thinking through in creating passive dehydration systems myself.

"These are not things I worry about. Living in a city or sitting in traffic breathing exhaust fumes. Now that's real poison. The amount of beer I drink...far far more so."

That's all good, I do think people can get to choose which things they need to be concerned with. I wasn't making a comment on your system, I was referring to the creation of food dehydrators in cars in general and some of the issues that might be involved.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Ross Raven wrote:
So. Its not just about apples. A big bag of carrots, cubed, will shrink down into a little jar once the water is removed. Onions dry fast...but you must really like onions as the smell is going to linger for a while...like a nice perfume.
greens dry really fast.


Dehydrated onions, in my experience, are really sweet, almost candy-like. Yummy. I guess the onion-smell and pungency are largely left in the car! Note: after drying onions on those screens, you probably don't want to lay apples on those screens without a good washing and airing out first. For carrots or greens or anything savory, it shouldn't matter. Dried tomatoes, especially sweet fully ripe local ones, are amazing, sweet like dried fruit, tangy, fabulous. They'd make a great gorp mixed with dried onions and salted nuts.

Green dry fast but only if you lay them out in a single layer, so they take up huge amounts of surface area. We like to dry just some each day and then pile them loosely together to continue drying the next day and making space for the next (small) batch. If we pile them up so that two or three leaves are over each other, they sometimes don't dry well and start to go off or change color unattractively.

We have a couple of big sunrooms (overenthusiastically solar design 20 years ago) that are too hot to really use much in the autumn, so we use those as our dryers. We just open two opposite windows for a crossdraft, try to screen them against wasps and flies, and lay out big plastic sheets. Window screens aren't a common thing here so if we wanted screen trays we'd have to make them. So far a single layer on plastic works fine. I'm sure screen trays would work even better.
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Eric Hammond
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Im that last person to usually express worry for chemicals etc, working in and around cars all day in the shop. But I for one would not dry food in a newer car either, that "new car smell" you smell is the plasticizers leaching out of the plastic. The dashes cracking and plastics cracking on older cars is once those plasticizers have evaporated and they are no longer pliable. Its not worth it to put that into your food. You'd be better off searching out a different option
 
Ross Raven
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Perfect being the enemy of good- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_is_the_enemy_of_good

On the other sight I post on, I am known for my over the top sarcasm. In fact recently, I described old survivalists, with their past connections to Rhodesian mercenaries (a recruiting ad being "Be a man among men) as the ultimate in Homoeroticism followed closely by Rambo all oiled up. I them proceeded to lead people in a sing along of Macho Man by the Village People...

So being on this site with its different rules, Im Really...really really ...really trying to be good...so I will try the logical approach-

You have to crack the windows so wind blows through or nothing inside will dry. CRACKED WINDOW. WIND BLOWING THROUGH CAR. In fact, I almost lost my pictured round of drying when the wind stopped for over a day, so I had to open every thing up and put a few of the trays on the roof till the wind picked up again. But lets make sure we follow the logic to its end. Would you say its not safe to eat any food that is grown in a greenhouse? One built with anything but un tempered glass? No hoop frames? No Polly siding? No big Plastic industrial ones.....

I'll also re point out the words "Emergency" in the title as well as "Survival" as the forum head.

Its probably a North American Problem. We can buy anything we want and afford castles in the sky...at least for a little while longer. One post up is a beautiful photo of dehydrating in the Indian Himalayas. This is their food source. These people I could really learn from and I would be honored to eat at their table. They are dehydrating it on a plastic sheet. See my opening line and the wiki that follows.

Im REALLY trying...Must ...Try...Not...To be....Offensive....ARRRR!!! Oh, Poop Compost. One of my many problems is that I have absolutely no self control. Tomorrow, Im getting buck naked and I am going to go sliding around on my car seat. Im leaving the windows closed so I get nice and sweaty. Then for the sake of permies everywhere, I will put my life in danger....and lick the steering wheel. The Dirtiest Dirtiest part. Full on vinyl fetish lick that would make Betty Page blush.

Mrs C5 will roll here eyes while heading to the garden, immediately figuring this has something to do with my writing. She doesn't appreciate art....
 
Rose Pinder
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I suppose I've read too much about plastic and food and endocrine disruptors and seen too many people, women in particular, with serious health problems from 'invisible' pollution that is easy to ignore.

I don't think the caution is a downer on your suggestion, esp because I know lots of people with old cars It's more about opening up the discussion so people can make informed choices about how to go about this.

My climate is often windy, but often it's not, and I guess there is a balance between opening the windows enough to let moisture out but not lose too much heat. I'd dry food and herbs in my 20 year old car, I wouldn't dry them in the cab of my newer truck because I can smell the offgassing still.

It's a good idea, the whole thing, and I liked the photos and seeing how you balanced the trays/frames, you fitted more in that I would have thought to.

My climate is pretty dry, so I'm guessing with car drying I might have to keep on eye on things not getting too cooked. It's early spring here and I've been experimenting with the differences in air drying inside vs oven drying in the woodstove, and the issue of cooked vs dried. Does it matter that much, or is it more an issue of how long the dried food will store for afterwards? Loss of nutrients?
 
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