Here is a nice story that shows how easy it is to establish an operating fruit and vegetable drying business.
click the image to visit the website
Menar Meebed of Egypt, has used a commercially available solar dryer and a simple Internet blog to set up a business selling dried fruit and vegetables. Her product is of a higher quality than the traditional products because of the fruit she selects and the fact that the solar dryer reduces the drying time.
The commercial success of the business of course depends on how well she sources her produce, whether the market demand for her product is big enough and how she manages the business but the basis is in place.
This Toolkit is online on the FAO’s INPhO website (International Network of Post Harvest Operations).
It is a comprehensive collection of information that could be used by a range of people from the new entrepreneur looking to understand fruit products and processors to a processors considering expansion into new products.
It is a comprehensive presentation covering a wide range of fruits, products and information. It is well illustrated with flowsheets and gives detailed information on processes. It presents recipes for different fruits and products and has a good list of references as well as a comprehensive list of equipment suppliers.
To me the only problem is that this information has to be consulted online, which is a problem for those users who don’t have suitable connectivity.
For some time I have been slowly promoting the sun drying process because of its low capital cost and zero energy consumption. So the Drying Process has a very low carbon footprint! But here is someone who’s taking it even further!
They claim a 7 to 10 day drying period is at the heart of their product quality! The long drying period means drying is gentle and they even speak of rehydration during cool moiste evenings.
The logical argument against sun drying is the potential of it being soiled either by microorganisms, insects, rodents, birds or just dust and dirt. The chance of these occurring is proportional to the time the tomato is out in the open – so it makes you think!
I have always said a 3 or 4 day drying period is necessary if a stable clean product is to be produced, but this seems to say different. Possibly there is a cleaning and sorting step involved – I will be following up and giving more information.