Building a Portable Electric Food Dehydrator

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The majority of the text and plans provided here were originally obtained from the Oregon State University Extension Service Circular 855, and were last revised in 1984 by Dale E. Kirk, professor emeritus of agricultural engineering at Oregon State University. The original plans have been modified slightly with regard to wiring and materials.

You can use a small food dehydrator in your home to preserve many types of fruits, vegetables, meats, and specialty items made from fresh, natural products (e.g. tomato sauces, hummus, and refried beans). The dehydrator shown in the banner image above and in figures 1 – 3 below provides 8½ square feet of tray surface, which can accommodate approximately 18 lbs. of fresh, moist product.

The necessary heat for evaporating the moisture is supplied by standard incandescent household light bulbs, which are efficient and relatively safe heating elements. You can use either a 8-inch or 6-inch diameter air-duct circulating fan from a hardware store to provide the necessary air flow.

You can build the dehydrator with the following tools: a saw capable of cutting straight lines (e.g. table saw or skilsaw with a guide), a coping saw or jigsaw, drill, countersink, screwdriver, Arrowhead T50 stapler, razor knife, wire cutters, wire stripper, and scissors. You'll also need a square and a tape for measurements.


Front view of dehydratorFigure 1.
Front view of dehydrator construction.
Front view cross-section of dehydratorFigure 2.
Front view cross-section of dehydrator construction.
Side view cross-section of dehydratorFigure 3.
Side view cross-section of dehydrator construction.