Friday, March 14, 2014

Moringa Leaf : Dehydrator Concepts

This year marked the first year of Moringa Leaf production at commercial volumes at Savera Farms. During our pilot phases, we attempted various post-harvesting techniques like Air Drying. While Air Drying is recommended by some, we found it to be generally inefficient. Moisture levels were uneven and direct / indirect exposure to the sun resulted in discoloration of dry leaves. In the herbal supplement market, color, smell and consistency is highly regarded - and we tend to agree with our discerning buyers!

Since then we have discovered multiple leaf drying techniques and decided to use a dehydrator. Simply explained, a dehydrator is a device which uses warm air to dehydrate the fresh product enclosed in a container. European and American users often use counter top dehydrator models to preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables. Drying fresh produce using this method not only preserves the nutritional content but also does not physically damage the fresh food item.



While commercially marketed dehydrators can be cost prohibitive for a small operation, we were able to use a simple design to construct one for our purposes. There are a few providers of commercial scale dehydrators but during our negotiations, the purchase and setup cost quickly rose to multiple lakh INR. Instead, our initial design included solar dehydration but to increase efficiency we later included a heat lamp so the device could be used indoors as well. Various solar dehydration / cooking methods were popularized in India during 1970s and 1980s. Readers should take inspiration from those tried and tested methods to attempt their own design. There is quite a bit of information available online to modify designs based on your specific utilization.



3 comments:

  1. There's an inexpensive method of solar dehydration developed by ARTI (Appropriate Rural Technology Institute), Pune that prevents discoloration and is super cheap to build. It is made out of bamboo.

    ARTI sells a CD of various bamboo technologies. I've uploaded it on my server. You can download entire content as a zip file of 165 mb. Solar dryer is explained at 16:03 into the video.

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  2. hi
    There is one old technique which was used in World wars to transport blood. It is called freeze drying. Here you keep the temperature below 0 C and create vacuum. The moisture in the product will come out and dries . The product will not loose its color and flavor. I think this is the basic technique which is used in several machines available in the market . I am confident u can make a reasonable size machine below 50K. Lot of local talent is available in this sector.
    To introduce my self - I am also having passion for agriculture and currently cultivating PKM 1 variety Drumstick in moderate scale near to Chennai.

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  3. Hello I find this article quite informative and I wish to know more about it. Please for how long can the crop stay? what are the types of crops that can be used for it? how can one make his own dehydator? I am a crop production personnel and I teach in a reputable school.. I will like to go into the production of Moringa over in Nigeria how do l go about it and what is the best species to use. where can it be gotten.

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