If you buy a temperature controlled fan assisted dehydrator it will cost you up to £300. If you are handy, however (or if you know someone who is handy) you can make one for a small fraction of that price from mainly recycled materials. Using the very gentle heating generated by your dehydrator, you can then make breads and pie crusts from sprouted grains, seeds and nuts. The effect is similar to sunbaking at Mediterranean temperatures, as with the original ‘Essene bread’. Preparation time is similar to conventional baking, but the actual ‘baking’ process takes much longer, with timing being much less critical. You can also make dried apple rings, onion rings, tomato crisps and other nutritious snacks and garnishes. Running costs are low.
My dehydrator was made for me by my son, using ecologically sound plywood, shelving from discarded refrigerators, and some bought extras. You could also use thicker wood if you have that available. The dehydrator consists of a ventilated box with three shelves and two light bulbs at the bottom which provide the heat. A thermometer is kept on one of the shelves and this gives guidance as to what wattage bulbs are needed, according to season and external temperatures – usually 40W in summer, and 60W to 100W in winter, to provide temperatures between 95F and 110F. Ventilation is provided by 2.5cm round holes in top and sides (2 in each surface, total of 6) and nylon mesh is taped over these to keep insects out.
(the picture shows the dehydrator with the door standing open and the shelves protruding for display – a plate of crackers on the top shelf, and flapjack on the middle shelf. The bottom shelf holds only the wire rack and parchment paper. The thermometer is on the middle shelf. The ventilation holes on the top surface can be clearly seen.)
External dimensions: width 33cm,
height 43 cm, depth 45 cm.
PLYWOOD to make:
FOR THE SHELF ATTACHMENTS
(the picture shows the base of the dehydrator, showing the bulb fitments, hole for flex, and taped mesh to keep out insects. The bottom shelf is visible at the top of the picture.)
When my dehydrator was finished I painted all the wood surfaces with organic linseed oil as preservative. I’ve now been using it for over a year and it’s as good as new. If any part of it breaks down, it will be perfectly easy to mend!