TUTORIAL: Easy (Upcycled) Sun-drying Frame
Do you have a freaky-monster explosion of tomatoes or other fresh food you can't possibly eat? Are you fond of upcycling and dried food? Do you love being green? Are you in the middle of devastating drought-ridden heat? If you can answer yes to any one of those questions, this project just may be for you!
This is pretty dang self-explanatory, but here goes! Step 1:
- Any old window screen (the roll pictured here is the leftovers from after my dog scratched a huge hole in my door and I had to replace that screening with new)
- Any old frame (okay, let's clarify; it would be good to not use a frame you suspect might be painted with LEAD)(And, yes, I apologize in advance, knowing there are some people who will wince to see this use of old frames, having OH so many better ways to use them...lol)
- Staple gun
Flip the frame so its back is facing up. Cut a piece of screen the (approximate) same size as the exterior dimensions of the frame.Step 2:
Cut a slice in the screen. Extending from the corner to about where the frame becomes recessed. Repeat for each corner.Step 3:
Roll one side of the screening into a tidy little roll about the width of the frame's recessed area.Step 4:
Press the screen into the corner and staple it, as shown. Staple the length of that roll.Step 5:
Now go to the side opposite the side you just stapled, make another roll, pull tight (though not so tight it tears) and staple in place. (CRITICAL: MAKE SURE THE SCREEN IS TIGHT
---so that the heavy produce doesn't cause it to sag later on.)Step 6:
On either of the two remaining un-stapled sides, fold over the two quasi-triangle pieces toward the center of what will become your next roll.Step 7:
Make the roll.Step 8:
Staple that roll, then move on to the other side and do the same thing. On the second side, gently pull screen tight while stapling to ensure your screen maintains its tightness
Turn screen over. VOILA! DONE! Now it's time to take all those lovely fruities, slice and dice, and place them in the sun!The frames in action:
Notice the 2x4s (oh so beautiful
) that I have set under the frames, to allow air to flow fully around the fruit.
These images bring to mind my going as a girl to the local apricot orchard where they had thousands of apricots out drying on screens in the sun. Best damn dried apricots I have EVER had!
It takes me four to six days to dry halved cherry tomatoes, depending on how hot it is, how soon I get them out on the table, and how big the fruit is to begin with. (I keep forgetting the "after" pictures! lol)
- Remember to raise the frames with something to promote airflow.
- Put same thickness fruit on the same tray.
- Be aware of the weather forecast.
- Bring fruit in at night if it is very dewy.
- Some people recommend cheesecloth to protect from bugs. (I don't care; I've had no problems.)
- I put my dehydrating fruit on a glass table to get the reflective heat from below involved in the drying process.
Any comments, criticism, warnings, "hey, that was freaking unclear," or don't-dos would be greatly appreciated. Or recipes. Does anyone have any SUPER recipes involving masses of dried tomatoes?