Now that we've done some dehydrating, here is what we've found with the design.
As I mentioned in the prior post, the design I used was not the product of some company or solar design engineer, but the result of homesteader ingenuity.
So far, were have dehydrated greens and fruit. Collards and lacinado kale were blanched before dehydrating, and they dried quite well, in less than one day. Apple and peach slices both dehydrated well, and are now stored in glass jars. If it's cloudy or you don't get the fruit in the dehydrator first thing, it might take two days. We just leave the fruit in the dehydrator overnight and have had no problems. After they are dry, we store in airtight glass jars.
Our "summer kitchen", blanching collards on the propane cookstove.
The dehydrator has four individual trays that can be taken out for loading with food or for cleaning. We found that sugary food like peach slices will stick to the stainless screening, so we used the plastic screens from our electric dehydrator on top of the stainless screen. Plastic sticks less, and is easier to clean up in the kitchen sink.
Picture shows kale that has been blanched and the center rib cut out, starting the drying process.
Occasionally an ant has found its way in to the dryer area if it's cloudy or overnight, but normally, if the sun is out, it is so hot insects don't go in.
The temperature and air flow is not quite as good in the lower two sections. This is actually handy for drying herbs, in which you want a low temperature. For fruit slices, we just switch top and bottom trays half way through so they finish equally. I don't yet have a temperature probe, but plan to get one, then we'll know how hot the two levels get.
Next year, maybe we'll try jerky. The two dehydrators have now been taken down and stored in the barn for the winter.