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How to Dehydrate Meat

Almost any meat can be dehydrated as long as it's lean.

Beef, venison, and buffalo all work out really well. You just have to be really careful to trim all of the fat off of it, because fat can become rancid and will spoil the meat.

Special handling is required when it comes to preparing meat for the dehydrator. It's very easy for meat to become contaminated so make sure you follow the directions that come with your food dehydrator very carefully.

It's recommended that you first cook the meat you're going to dehydrate to 160 F before you begin to dehydrate it. This will kill the bacteria in the meat that can make you sick, such as salmonella and E coli. Also make sure to keep the meat in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

Meat is usually sliced into small strips and then seasoned by using either a marinade or a rub. You can use almost any seasoning you want, it really just depends on your own personal tastes. Many stores carry a variety of seasoning packs and marinades that can be added to the meat. Just season according to what you like and then place the strips on the dryer and dry according to manufacturers instructions.

Make sure to spray the racks with a non-stick cooking spray first, before adding the meat. It helps it not stick to the tray when you're trying to turn them over. Also, leave lots of room between the meats so that the air can circulate evenly and dry all the strips at the same time. You may need to put some tinfoil on the bottom of your dehydrator to catch all the grease that will drain out of it. If you do this, just make sure to leave enough room around the edges for the heat to flow around it.

The meat is dry when it's done to your taste. If you like it a little chewy, don't dry it too long. You can test it by trying to break it in half, because it shouldn't be able to snap cleanly in half. You should not be able to see any of the moisture inside it. Although it should still have enough moisture left that you have to twist and turn it a bit before you can break it apart.

My friend likes to dry hamburger for using when he goes camping. This he dries almost to dust, and then he uses it in his stews at the campsite. It tastes really good, but I wouldn't dry it this long if I were trying to make jerky strips.

Once the meat is dried and you have allowed it to cool completely, remove it from the racks and prepare it for storage. It should be stored in air tight containers or vacuum bags that have the air removed from them. Dehydrated meat will store 6 months to a year as long as it's stored in a cool dry place.

Learn more by visiting our home food storage articles page or go directly to the following related articles: Dehydrating Fruits or Dehydrating Vegetables.