For this badge bit, you will dehydrate at least two pounds of food.
To complete this BB, the minimum requirements are:
- you must use a solar food dehydrator - you must have two pounds of food before dehydration
To show you've completed this Badge Bit, you must provide:
- a picture of your food on a scale before dehydration (or, obviously far more than two pounds)
- a picture of your food in your solar dehydrator before dehydration (with entire structure of dehydrator)
- a picture of your food in your solar dehydrator after dehydration (with entire structure of dehydrator)
Build a Solar Dehydrator
If there is already a solar dehydrator that you can use, you can skip this step.
I did both kale and tomatoes for this bb. I was so eager to use the dehydrator I didn't read the documentation needed beforehans and then the group and myself were excited to eat it afterwards so the finished kale picture is the meager scraps haha. I don't have a photo on the scale but I do know it was approximately 12 Roma tomatoes and 4 bunches of three leaves of kale. Thought I'd post my documentation and give it a shot!
This took a long time to certify because the scale requirement was not met. I have decided to certify this because we are still quite early into PEP - but future BBs need to meet all of the requirements.
Originally, I thought this BB would be the one I wouldn't be able to do to complete this sand badge. That's because I live where the humidity is so bad that it melts the goats' salt in the mineral feeder. All my research years ago suggested that solar dehydrators aren't suited to high humidity climates. I got to thinking about this and recalled a solar oven webinar I hosted several years ago. One of the topics was how to use that brand solar oven as a solar dehydrator. It's a different technique from solar cooking, and so required several adjustments. And practice! My first batch didn't turn out, but I learned from it and am excited to now know that solar dehydration is possible for me. I'll show the adjustments in the photos below.
To dry, and not cook, the onions, here's what I had to do.
I learned from experimenting that I need to stir the onions occasionally and switch out the order of the racks. I removed individual onion pieces as soon as they dried sufficiently.
Solar cooking is moist heat cooking, so this allowed excess moisture to escape.
To obtain a lower temperature, I also had to offset the direction of the oven from the sun. I started by turning the oven 6 inches to the east, kept an eye on the temperature, and adjusted as needed.
It took three days to dry a batch of onions. Here's the last of them ready to come out.
I'm encouraged by this experiment. The disadvantage of using my solar oven is that its capacity is small. But, for the first time, I can see a dedicated solar dehydrator in my future.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"