Food loss is a global issue that may be alleviated with effective dehydration strategies. Solar dehydration, rather than traditional sun-drying, is one method that could allow for the safe, efficient preservation of food materials. In this study, passive solar dehydration was achieved using a psychrometric chamber to model the environment of sub-Saharan Africa, where the temperature was the major focus (24.3 °C to 29.4 °C). A mass decrease of 88.56% was achieved within 9 hours. Microbial testing (total aerobic bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, and total yeasts and molds) demonstrated no difference (all negative) between food stored at 4 °C and dehydrated food, indicating that the dehydrator introduced no new contamination. A 16.0% decrease in vitamin C (VC) concentration was observed due to the lability of VC. Insight into the visual appeal of the food samples was provided by measuring browning values, where it was found that dehydrated green apples are significantly less brown than the sample exposed to air for the same length of time. Passive solar dehydrators could provide a simple method to reduce food waste and maintain nutritional content and visual appeal.
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