By on July 30, 2014
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.
The ‘rescued’ fridge shelves measure 31.5 cm in width.


PLYWOOD to make:
2 pieces 33 x 45cm for top and bottom
2 pieces 33 x 43 cm for front and back
2 pieces 45 x 43 cm for the sides
flex, on/off switch (the kind that is contained in the flex) and electric plug
2 batten mounts into which the light bulbs are fixed
piece of sturdy wood at least 1.5cm thick to hold the light bulbs

1.5cm thick lengths of wood:
6 pieces 44cm long to hold the sliding shelves in place
4 pieces 44cm long to reinforce the box (fixed along each corner between sides & top) – *these are not needed if thicker wood than plywood is used*
small pieces of nylon mesh (e.g. net curtains) for insect filters
strong tape to attach the above
Small screws 
2 small hinges
fastener for the door
offcuts for handle and hinge reinforcements
natural veg / seed oil for preservative

(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




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