Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dehydrating Meats

There is far more to dehydrating meat than making jerky.  Don’t get me wrong. Jerky is wonderful. It makes a great snack. But it’s highly seasoned, usually very salty, and … well… it makes a great snack. But what if you need meat for a meal? 

After all, one does not live by jerky alone.

I have found that very lean cooked meats also work and can be used in a variety of ‘normal’ recipes.

There Are Some Tricks To Dehydrating Meat To Consider:

  1. Fats go rancid very quickly, so you always want to find the leanest cut of meat possible.
  2. Remove every speck of visible fat before dehydrating.
  3. Unless properly prepared, botulism can contaminate your meat. It is very dangerous.  Meat must be heated to a minimum of 140 degrees in order to reduce the risk of botulism I always precook my meat.
  4. In order to assure even and thorough drying, meats must be thinly and evenly sliced or ground.
  5. Sometimes dehydrated meat does not rehydrate well, or may take longer than you thought.  In that case, consider breaking or grinding it into smaller pieces.
  6. It is better to over-dry than to under-dry.
Cooked Meats I Have Dehydrated That Work Well:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Ham
  • pork
  • Turkey
  • Pork
Tips For Success:

  1. Do not fry your meat.
  2. Do not put breading on your meat
  3. Roasted, baked, broiled, or boiled works best
  4. Once your meat is dried, it becomes very hard and brittle. By then it will be difficult to cut or grind into smaller pieces.
  5. Consider buzzing your meat in the food processor or grinding it before cooking. This assures even texture and drying. Especially good for use with soups, stews, gravies, etc.
  6. Powder some of your dehydrated meat to make flavoring for soups and stews.
  7. If you do not season it strongly, at a later time you can add whatever seasonings you choose to the rehydrating liquid.
  8. Think in terms of using this meat in soups or stews. Diced bits work well in gravies and sauces.



  1. Please comment on storage. In ziplock bags, jars? Refrigerate? Shelf life?

    1. The whole point of dehydrating is to eleminate the need for refrigerators and freezers and the added cost of running electricity to store it. Plus, there is also the MAJOR advantage of the least amount of nutrient loss possible. (See my post "If for No Other Reason" for more info on this)

      I started dehydrating my meat long before I purchased my vacuum pack machine. And honestly, I have most of it in zip freezer bags. these are stored in heavy plastic buckets until I'm ready to use them.

      These days, I'm working on one-dish meals, with all the ingredients for one meal for two people (no leftovers) in one bag. As I am putting together kits that use meat, they are going into vacuum pack bags with a recipe card.

    2. As to how long to store them, I just don't know. I've had dehydrated ground meat stored for over four years now, with no sign of problems.

      The main thing is to keep it free from moisture. Bacteria can't grow without moisture. So that's the most important thing.

      Also, as with all dehydrated foods, keep them out of constant light. Light can damage the food over time. See my post "Canning Jars are not Essential to Storing" to see what happens to dehydrated food stored in the light.