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How to Make Dehydrated Vegetables and Fruits

dried vegetablesSundried fish and fruits in the Philippines are common nowadays that is why Cebu has been famous for sundried delicacies like danggit and dried mangoes. But dried vegetables are not popular here maybe because we have an abundant supply of fresh vegetables. I’m not sure if it will be profitable selling dried vegetables because the time and materials spent on processing might not be feasible. But maybe with a little creativity by adding value to the product, you might sell it with a higher price than selling only fresh vegetables. For example, the food fish tilapia can be sold with a higher market value by converting it to marinated fish fillet, sausages or hamburger patties. Likewise you can also convert an ordinary vegetable like ampalaya or bitter melon into ampalaya chips by adding flavor like cheese or barbecue. Branding it as a healthy diet for diabetics, it might be a hit!

Sun drying of foods have been practiced by people since ancient times to preserve food in leaner times. There are many ways of food preservation like canning and pickling but solar drying is one of the cheapest way because you only need sunlight to petrify the food stuffs and a small investment in making the solar dryer. This summer is great for starting a sundried food business if you are thinking of having one.

Advantages of solar drying

Methods of drying

Sun drying

Drying in the sun is very economical. You only have to spread the produce on a suitable surface and let it dry in the sun.


Solar drying

The technology and capital required to dry fruit and vegetables by solar dryers is basic and the entire operation can be completed in most kitchens. The structure can be very basic, e.g. a box frame covered with plastic sheeting.

Advantages of solar dryers

The drying process


Predrying Treatments



Prepare the cleaning solution as follows:

– Pour 50 parts of clean water in a clean bucket (e.g. 20 litre).

– Add one part of any household bleach (e.g. 400 ml) containing chlorine

– For safety reasons plastic gloves should be worn when mixing the solution.


Before drying, all vegetables should be blanched in steam to halt the action of enzymes. However, blanching of fruit is optional. Steam blanching is recommended because it prevents the loss of some nutrients and the products being dried from adhering to each other. Do not underblanch, because the enzymes will not be inactivated totally and the dried vegetables will deteriorate during storage.

Pour several centimeters of water into a large cooking pot that has a close-fitting lid. Heat the water to boiling and place over it, high enough to keep clear of the water, a wire rack or basket holding a layer of the vegetables (not more than 5 cm deep). Cover and let the vegetables steam for half the required time, then test to make sure all pieces are reached by the steam.

A sample from the centre of the layer should be wilted and feel soft and heated through when it has been properly blanched.


Cutting and slicing


A basic box-type low-cost solar dryer can be constructed at home or by village artisans. It is made of wire-mesh trays in a wooden framework surrounded by a clear plastic sheet. The solar cabinet dryer type has a surface of 10 m2 and is capable of drying 20 to 35 kg of fresh produce (depending on commodity) over a period of 3 to 4 days. Smaller portable models of the dryer can be constructed depending on available funds for the dryer, construction and the purpose of drying (home consumption or marketing).

For further information available on solar drying contact
Mr MD Brutsch at the University of Fort Hare
Tel: (040) 602 2131
Fax: (040) 653 1730
E-mail: mbrutsch@ufh.ac.za

Tray loading

Dryer loading


Unloading the dryer

Packaging and storing

Packaging should be carried out immediately after unloading and cooling because the dried slices will reabsorb moisture and be susceptible to attack by insects and other pests.

Proper storage should take place in the absence of moisture, light and air.

Samples of Fruits and Vegetables You Can Sundry:

Dried Pumpkin leaves

Select fresh, tender leaves
Peel off the hairy outer skin
Wash in clean water
Steam blanch for 3 to 5 minutes
Place on trays ready for drying
Test for dryness: crumble easily

Dried Tomatoes

Select fresh ripe fruit
Wash in clean water
Slice into regular pieces (vertically)
Arrange the pieces on the tray for drying
Test for dryness: a handful will spring apart after squeezing

Dried Cabbage

Peel off the outer leaves
Wash in clean water
Cut the cabbage in two
Chop into thin strands
Steam blanch for 5 to 8 minutes
Arrange on trays for drying. Spread evenly, not more than 1,5 cm deep.
Test for dryness: extremely tough ribs, the thin edges crumble.
Amaranthus sp.

Select young, tender and crisp leaves
Place loosely in a steaming basket and steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until well “wilted”
Spread sparsely on drying trays, keeping overlaps to a minimum
Test for dryness: crumble easily

Dried Sweet potatoes

Select firm, smooth potatoes
Steam in small quantity of water until the potatoes are just tender (30-40 minutes)
Slice into pieces (3-5 mm) or shred
Arrange the pieces on trays for drying
Test for dryness: slices extremely leathery, not pliable, shreds are brittle

Dried Carrots

Choose crisp, tender carrots without woodiness
(Not necessary to peel good, young carrots)
Steam until cooked through but not mushy (about 15-20 minutes depending on size)
Remove whiskers, tails and crowns
Cut into rings (2-3 mm) or shred
Arrange on trays for drying
Test for dryness: slices very tough, but can be bent. Shreds are brittle

Dried Beetroot

Choose small ones without woodiness
Leave 1 cm of the tops (they will bleed during precooking if the crown is cut)
Steam until cooked through (20-30 minutes)
Cool, trim roots and crowns and then peel
Shred with a coarse blade of a vegetable shredder (slices are not recommended because they take a long time to dry)
Spread thinly on trays for drying
Test for dryness: shreds are brittle

Deep orange varieties with thick solid flesh make the best product
Cut in half (manageable pieces for peeling) and remove seeds and all pith
Shred with the coarse blade of a vegetable grater
Place in shallow layers in the basket, steam for 6 minutes
Arrange shreds on drying trays ready for drying
Test for dryness: shreds are brittle

Dried Green beans

Select young and tender stringless beans
Wash thoroughly
Steam for 2 to 3 minutes
Cut into short pieces or lengthwise
Arrange on trays for drying
Test for dryness: extremely tough ribs, the thin edge crumbles

Dried Herbs

This category includes celery leaves as well as other aromatic herbs such as parsley, basil, sage, tarragon, etc. All these should be dried at temperatures not exceeding 40 �C. (If it exceeds this temperature oils valued for flavour will be lost)

For best products

Water the herbs well the night before harvest.

Harvest on a sunny morning soon after the dew has dried and choose plants that are reaching flowering stage.

Harvest with sufficient stem, then strip off tougher leaves growing lower than 10 cm on the stalk.

Hold in small bunches by the stem and swish the leaves through cold water to remove any dust or soil.

Shake off the water and lay on absorbent towelling to allow all surface moisture to evaporate.

Cut off the handle stems and spread the leafed stalks one layer deep on the drying trays.

Put the dryer under a shade and cover the unventilated sides with a cloth to reduce the light on the herbs.

Turn the herbs several times to ensure even drying.

Test for dryness: crumble readily.

Dried Mangoes

Select firm, ripe mangoes
Wash with clean water
Cut into slices (2 – 3 mm thick)
Arrange on trays for loading into the dryer
Test for dryness: slices should be pliable, without sticking together

Dried Pineapples

Select firm, ripe fruit
Cut off the top and base
Cut into slices (2 – 3 mm thick)
Arrange on trays ready for loading into dryers
Test for dryness: slices should be pliable, without sticking together

Dried Bananas

Select good-quality fruit
Peel and remove the 2 tips
Slice into pieces (5 mm thick)
Arrange on trays for loading into dryer
Test for dryness: slices should be pliable, without sticking together

Dried Apples

Select good-quality fruit
Cut into regular slices (2 – 3 mm thick).
As you cut, dip the slices into lemon juice to retain the colour temporarily
Steam blanch for 5 minutes and remove excess moisture
Arrange slices on trays ready for drying
Test for dryness: leathery, no moisture when cut and squeezed

Source: www.nda.agric.za (South Africa Dept.of Agriculture)

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By Blogsdna

Posted by on March 25, 2008.

Tags: , ,

Categories: Business Ideas

5 Responses

  1. Wow, thank you – the above article is excellent. Having grown beetroot for the first time I have a glut and want to store some for winter. The only options seem to be chutney or pickling, both of which are no good for cooking with. Not sure whether we have enough sun in the UK for this but oven drying should work just as well. Am looking forward to trying this. Thanks again.

    by Andrea on Sep 2, 2009 at 5:45 pm

  2. January 9, 2010 Thank you so much for a very useful easy to learn inputs. speially on mangoes and banana dried

    by george on Jan 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  3. how much is the solar drying?

    by blas on Apr 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

  4. we can use helium lights for drying foods.

    by catherine on Aug 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm

  5. what is the common desired moisture content of ampalaya?/

    by ruth on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

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