What’s Inside: In this article I cover multiple ways to dehydrate food without electricity. I also include tips regarding the best climate for dehydrating food without electricity, and safety precautions you need to take when doing so.
Dehydrating food has been a means of preserving food for long-term storage for centuries. Some methods work better for certain foods than others, and with the added complication of no electricity, learning how to dehydrate food without electricity becomes a necessity.
You can dehydrate food without electricity using a solar dehydrator, an air dehydrator, a solar-powered electric dehydrator, or a gas stove oven. The solar and gas oven options are the most effective and versatile options. You can only air-dry food effectively in dry, warm climates.
While electric dehydrators are the most popular method for dehydrating food, they are not always accessible or practical, especially in a survival situation, when homesteading, or in an urban setting when the power goes out. In addition to that, you may want to dehydrate food without electricity, to reduce both your carbon footprint, and your electric bill.
I have some excellent ideas for you to master dehydrating food no matter where you live!
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- There are four main methods of dehydrating food without electricity: solar dehydrators, air drying, solar-powered electric dehydrators, and gas ovens.
- To sun dry food, you need to choose the right location, slice food evenly, and monitor it to make sure it dries properly.
- Warm, dry climates are best for dehydrating food without electricity.
Dehydrating Food Without Electricity
Dehydration is a process of removing moisture from food to extend its shelf life and preserve its nutrients.
Dehydrated food is lightweight, compact, and convenient to store, making it an ideal choice for homesteaders, preppers, hikers, campers, and anyone who wants a long-term food supply without the need for refrigeration.
Knowing how to dehydrate food without electricity can be a useful skill to have in such situations. It allows you to leverage the natural heat and air currents to dry your food without relying on electrical power.
I’ll discuss various methods for dehydrating food without electricity and provide tips and tricks to help ensure successful dehydration and proper storage of your dehydrated food.
Sun Drying to Dehydrate Food Without Electricity
Sun drying is the most traditional method of dehydrating food and involves exposing food to direct sunlight for several days until all the moisture is removed.
This method requires minimal equipment, and the sun’s natural heat and air currents provide the energy needed to dry the food. However, this food dehydration method can be time-consuming and may not be suitable for areas with high humidity or unpredictable weather.
How To Sun Dry Food
Sun drying is a simple and effective method for dehydrating food without electricity. There are several ways you can sun dry foods. You can make a homemade solar dehydrator or purchase a commercial solar food dehydrator such as the non-electric food dehydrator Dehytray Food Dehydrator (Amazon).
Personally, I like the concept of the Dehytray Food Dehydrators because it is easy to use and compact enough to easily store when it is not in use.
The vents are ideally located to circulate the air and prevent the food from overheating. It also comes with a hygrometer to monitor the humidity in the dehydrator. The Dehytray is versatile and can dry vegetables, fruit, herbs, meat, and fish.
I have compiled some basic steps to follow to sun dry your food.
- Choose the right location. Find a location with direct sunlight, a gentle breeze, and low humidity. The ideal location would be an open space, such as a rooftop or a backyard, where you can position your drying racks.
- Prepare the food for drying. Slice the food into even pieces to ensure uniform drying. You can peel and core the fruits or remove the seeds if necessary.
- Place the food in the drying racks. Place the food pieces in a single layer on drying racks. Ensure that the racks are at least six inches off the ground to prevent dust and insects from contaminating the food.
- Monitor the food to ensure it dries evenly. Rotate the drying racks and move the food occasionally to ensure it dries evenly. Check the food regularly to ensure it is not over-drying or developing mold.
Sun-drying food, or solar dehydrating, can take several days or even weeks, depending on the type of food and the weather conditions. Ensuring the food is fully dehydrated is essential to prevent mold growth and spoilage.
Another option for dehydrating food is to use a solar cooker, such as the All American Sun Oven (Amazon), which can be used as a food dehydrator. As a bonus, you can cook entire meals using the sun’s power. I really like this option because you can use it for both cooking food, AND dehydrating food. This makes it a more versatile purchase than other solar dehydrators.
Air Drying Method to Dehydrate Food Without Electricity
Air drying is another method of dehydrating food without electricity, and it involves hanging the food in a well-ventilated area for several days until it is fully dehydrated.
This method is also relatively easy and requires minimal equipment, but it is not as efficient as other methods, especially in humid or damp environments.
You can build your own air dryer or opt for a readymade option, such as the Active Gear Guy Mesh Drying Rack (Amazon), a convenient alternative.
Air-drying food can take several days or even weeks, depending on the type of food and the weather conditions. The longer the food takes to dehydrate, the more the risk of the food becoming contaminated, especially when drying meat and fish this way.
Air drying is not suited to cool or humid climates, as the food can spoil easily and will take too long to dehydrate.
The best options for cool and humid climates in to use a solar dehydrator, as previously mentioned, or use solar power to power an electric dehydrator.
The method of dehydration using the air-dry method and the food preparation is the same as for sun-dried food.
Using A Dehydrator with a Solar Panel
Using a dehydrator with a solar panel is a more modern method of dehydrating food without grid electricity.
This method involves using a portable dehydrator powered by a solar panel to dry the food. It is a more efficient and reliable method than sun or air drying, and you can use it in almost any weather condition.
However, it requires more equipment than the other methods and may not be suitable for people who want to practice self-sufficiency or survival skills.
Choose a portable dehydrator that will be easy to power with a small solar setup and solar panel. These dehydrators are typically lightweight, compact, and use minimal power. An example is the Elite Gourmet Food Dehydrator (Amazon), a good choice to use with solar panels because of its low wattage.
Dehydrating Food with a Gas Stove
Dehydrating food without electricity can also be accomplished by using the oven on a gas stove. Placing the food on the oven racks in the gas-powered oven on low heat can be an effective food dehydrator.
The challenge with this method is to avoid cooking the food by using too much heat rather than drying it out.
There are many camping-type gas stoves, such as the Hike Crew Outdoor Gas Camping Oven (Amazon), which is small enough to be portable but still large enough to make an effective dehydrator.
The advantage of this dehydration method is that it can speed up the drying process, and when you are not using it as a dehydrator, you can use it to cook meals without electricity.
Is It Safe to Dehydrate Meat Without Electricity?
If you’ve ever wondered if it’s safe to dehydrate meat without electricity, you’ll be happy to know it is. However, the conditions must be suitable for the process. Humid, cool conditions are not suitable for drying meat. The meat would take too long to dry out, allowing bacteria to proliferate and spoil the meat.
The best method for dehydrating meat with no electricity is to use a solar dehydrator such as the Dehytray or a solar oven (both available on Amazon) rather than air drying. Air drying will work if your climate is warm and dry, and you can safely dry meat in 3 to 4 days, but a solar dehydrator can perform the process in about 48 hours.
Dehydrating Food on a North-Facing Balcony
When I started looking into dehydrating food without electricity, one of my challenges is that my condo has north-facing balconies. I was concerned about whether or not using something like the Dehytray (Amazon) would work. I reached out to the manufacturer about my specific situation, and found that in my case, it should work.
It is possible to use the air-dry method of dehydrating food on a north-facing balcony, but some conditions must be met.
The climate must be warm and dry to allow the food to dry fast enough to prevent the development of mold or bacteria.
Air-drying food on a north-facing balcony in a cool or humid environment is not recommended. Rather find a room with a south-facing window and place your solar dehydrator in this sunny spot in your apartment, or use the gas oven method.
My Favorite Dehydrator Cookbooks
Since you’re interested in dehydrating, I strongly recommend that you check out my article, The 9 Best Dehydrator Cookbooks, where I share in detail, the pros and cons of the best dehydrator cookbooks available.
Dehydrating food without electricity is a traditional food-preserving method that has been used for centuries. It’s a cost-effective and efficient way to extend the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, and meats without needing electricity, refrigeration, or freezing.
Each dehydration method has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type of food, the climate, and the available resources. Dehydrating food without electricity may take some time and effort, but it’s a rewarding and sustainable way to preserve food and reduce waste. With a little practice and patience, anyone can learn how to dehydrate food without electricity and enjoy the benefits of healthy, nutritious, safely preserved food.
One of the best sources of information that I found on this topic is Perdue university. They are the creators of the Dehydratry Solar Dehydrator (Amazon), which is the solar dehydrator I plan to purchase.
Other Articles About Living Without Electricity
If you enjoyed this article, you will likely enjoy these related articles:
- How to Stay Cool Without Electricity
- Doing Laundry Without Electricity
- How to Make Coffee Without Electricity
Books for Off-Grid Living
If you’re interested in preparing for living without electricity, or simply being prepared for power outages, here are a few books worth checking out, all available on Amazon: