ECHOcommunity Conversations

Solar Fruit Drying in West Africa

Any folks out there who are involved or have been involved in Solar Fruit Drying in Africa (either via training) etc?
What is the process of bringing villagers together to bring their fruits to be dried?
What kinds of simple, affordable manual and efficient knives/machines are out there for peeling & slicing of pineapples, mangos, papaya?
I would very much like to learn from folks who have been involved in this activity.
Thanks very much.

Village Earth has a plan for building a solar fruit dryer in their Appropriate Technology Library. I can send the plan to you, I have not personally built one, and don’t consider myself and expert, but I do have the library and am happy to share this with you Please write to me at I could send either electronically or by paper mail.

David Nelson
Minneapolis, USA

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Hi David,
Thanks very much for your offer. I very much look forward to receiving the plan. It would indeed be helpful because I did build one with the help of my brother in Fairfax, Va. I will like to improve upon it.

Hi Isaac we don’t use a solar dryer (although we really should and I will be interested in the plans), but we do a lot of fruit preserving.

  1. all these fruits have a lot of juice - so they are more difficult to dry.
  2. the yield per fruit is fairly low
  3. You need to practice preparing the fruit or it is a mess.
    For supplies
  4. Some really good peelers - probably bought elsewhere -
  5. 8 inch knives - doesn’t matter what type, but with good wooden handles and really sharp blades
  6. if you are going to preserve the pineapple in rounds - depending on the type of pineapple (Dole style is the easiest) you need a corer - probably a few in different sizes.
    How to
  7. Papaya - top and tail, cut open, clear seeds (which someone told me - if dried are a good substitute for pepper) - place inside down, peel, and then slice - not too thin and not thick or it takes forever to dry.
    2 Pineapple - top and tail - cut out the eyes in diagonals - take out the core - or you can leave it and people just eat around it. Slice in not too thick, not to thin. dry.
  8. Mangos - frankly not worth the effor to dry as fruit. I could suggest you peel (knive) and then squash out the fruit - and mix with sugar, and dry to make bars - the central pit with extra fruit can be cooked slowly and then made into a marmelade - for drinks - but use quickly if no preservatives or freeze it.
    Most of these fruits we cook very very quickly with minimal sugar and then freeze - the mangos we slice and then freeze, including the marmelade. Best thing with mangos is mango chutney - preserve it in sealed jars.
    I am in cuba - so not facing all the problems you do. Hope this is useful