Solar energy in food processing—a critical appraisal
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- Eswara, A.R. & Ramakrishnarao, M. J Food Sci Technol (2013) 50: 209. doi:10.1007/s13197-012-0739-3
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Increasing population and high cost of fuels have created opportunities for using alternate energies for post-harvest processing of foods. Solar food processing is an emerging technology that provides good quality foods at low or no additional fuel costs. A number of solar dryers, collectors and concentrators are currently being used for various steps in food processing and value addition. Society for Energy, Environment and Development (SEED) developed Solar Cabinet Dryer with forced circulation which has been used for dehydration and development of value added products from locally grown fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and forest produce. Drying under simulated shade conditions using UV-reducing Blue filter helps retain nutrients better. Its simple design and ease of handling makes SEED Solar Dryer an ideal choice for application of food processing in rural settings, closer to where the harvest is produced, eliminating the need for expensive transportation or storage of fresh produce. It also creates employment opportunities among the rural population, especially women. Other gadgets based on solar collectors and concentrators currently being used at various steps of food processing are reviewed.