How to Make Homemade Food Dehydrators

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If you want to learn how to make homemade food dehydrators there are many places online where you can find instructions. For the most part those homemade food dehydrators are made using cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, a light bulb, a light socket and an electrical cord. However, what are you supposed to do if the power goes out and you need to rescue the meat in the freezer by dehydrating it?


Anyone can learn how to make homemade food dehydrators that do not require electricity. In an emergency situation where the power is out, you probably have all you need around the house to preserve those steaks in your freezer.

Things You'll Need

  • Window screens
  • String, fishing line or thread
  • Duct tape
  • Chunks of 2x4, bricks or empty tuna cans
  • Sawhorses or table
  • Cheesecloth or netting (such as used on a bridal veil)

Make Homemade Food Dehydrator Trays

  • If you have window screens on your windows, remove them. Make sure the screen material is intact. If the screen material is fiberglass and is fraying or has tears you would be advised to replace the screen by weaving a mesh around the frame of the window screen.

    If the window screen is metal or vinyl you can simply wash the screen and go to Step 9 below.

  • Use the duct tape and tape one end of the string, fishing line or thread (line/thread) to the edge (Point A)

  • Pull the line taut to the opposite side of the frame (Point B) Place another piece of tape over the Point B juncture of thread to attach it to the frame. Do NOT cut the thread.

  • Run the thread/line under the frame, pulling it taut to the opposite side of the frame (Point C). Pull the thread/line over the edge of the frame about ½" from Point A and attach it to the frame with another piece of duct tape.

  • Continue this wrap and tape process until the entire length of the window screen frame is covered with thread/line placed ½" apart until you reach Point Z.

  • Secure the thread/line with duct tape at Point Z and then cut the thread/line.

  • Next, repeat steps 2 thru 6, running the thread/line in the opposite direction: (Point AA to Point BB). When you are finished you will have a dehydrating tray, large enough to hold several pounds of sliced meat.

  • Repeat steps 2 thru 7 for each window screen that you intend to use.

  • Set up the saw horses where the sun and any breeze can circulate around the setup.

    a. Place the saw horses so that the dehydrating screen-tray can be laid lengthwise between them.
    b. If you don't have a pair of sawhorses, you can set out a table or even a couple of straight-back chairs. If you use a table, place something at each end to raise the screen-tray above the tabletop so air can flow under the screen.
  • Lay out the meat or fruit that you intend to dehydrate on the mesh.

  • Place two chunks of wood/bricks/tin cans at each end of the screen where it rests on the sawhorse. This will provide a support for the next dehydrating screen-tray, plus allow room between the trays for air to circulate.

  • Once you have all the screen-trays in place, cover the entire homemade food dehydrator with the netting or cheesecloth. This will keep the bugs off without hindering air flow.

Tips & Warnings

  • At night, you should bring the trays in the house to keep the drying food safe from overnight dew and prowling animals. If you live in a location where the humidity is below 70 percent you should have no problem drying food outside in the sun. Usually it takes two to three days for thinly sliced meat to dry in an outdoor food dehydrator.

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