While I would do a lot to get my hands on an excalibur dehydrator, they are expensive and use a lot of electricity. Until I have the means to get one, I’ve been experimenting with alternative methods of dehydrating food and herbs. I haven’t had much luck simply air drying many herbs, so I’m always looking for ways to add just a little heat into the mixture. You’ve seen how I turned a pickup truck into a dehydrator to dry mushrooms and homemade noodles, but now we are classing it up a little by using a wood stove to get the job done.
In the summer time heat, I would be more apt to rig something up to capture the power of the sun, but if you have a wood stove and it’s got logs burning in it, you’ve already completed the first step. You already know (and maybe curse) how dry a wood stove can make your house, but this is why it makes such a great dehydrator, so if you have a humidifier on your stove, it’s time to take it off for a day or two .
In my experience, you have two options when using your wood stove as a dehydrator, you can either dry on the stove or above the stove. I just had a thought that you could possibly hang your products on a drying rack for clothing and set it next to you stove, but I have yet to try this (if you try it out, let me know how it works in the comments!)
In this house, the ceilings are rather high and there is no way to hang anything above the stove, but in the last house we were living in, there was a grate that allowed air to flow to the upstairs hallway that worked perfectly. This method worked best for drying herbs that can be tied at the stem in loose bundles. You will need a way to hang them several inches apart from each other so that there is plenty of air flow. You will want to hang them as far above the stove as possible so that the heat does not cause any deterioration of nutrients or medicinal constituents. If you are going to be using these herbs medicinally, you may also want to find a way to protect them from sunlight as much as possible, as this can also decrease their effectiveness.
Leave your herbs above the stove for a day or two, or until they are completely dry and crispy to the touch. At this point, you will want to cut them down and place a manageable amount in a bowl. With clean hands, you can then easily remove the leafs from the stem or crush the whole plant up into bits. I use this method to dry nettle, in which case I want the whole plant, stem and all to be used in an infusion, so I will remove the leafs with my hands and then use scissors to chop up the tough stems.
The other way that I dehydrate food on the wood stove is to set it on top. You do not want to set it directly on the stove as it will get too hot and simply cook. Instead, I leave several large rocks or bricks on the stove to get hot. I chop whatever I am wanting to dehydrate into small chunks and put it in a very large metal bowl or roasting pan in a single layer. It is important not to put too much together because it will be difficult to dry it evenly and it may go bad later. I then set the roaster on top of my heat radiating rocks and leave it for a couple of days, stirring the contents with my hands every so often until it is completely dry. Then it can simply be poured into a mason jar and stored for later use.
That’s all there is too it! Nothing is more simple or easier than taking advantage of a resource you already have! If you have any great tips or tales of experiments gone wrong dehydrating, let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This blog is just my opinion. While I try my hardest, everything may not be accurate or complete. Do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make a small amout of money from this blog. If you click on any of the links in this blog, I may make a small amount of money from it, at no extra cost to you. I am not sponsored by any of these companies I just honestly love their products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practictioner; consult a health care professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.