Dehydrating Meat Properly

Dehydrating Meat Properly

Dehydrating meat properly at home can be fun, easy and very economical if you know how to do it properly. Find out how to do it safely and properly without stress.

There are a number of ways of dehydrating meat. The method used will depend on the purpose for which the meat is dehydrated.


Benefits of dehydrating meat

  • Meat can be preserved for a longer time
  • It is easier than canning
  • Advantage can be taken of bulk purchase sale prices for large cuts of meat.
  • Exploits or takes advantage of seasonal sales which is usually before holidays.
  • Very handy for hikers, backpackers, campers etc.
  • Well prepared . is more tasty and nutritious.
  • They are healthier than their fried counterparts


Purposes of Dehydrating Meat

Meat can be dehydrated for two purposes – for preservation or for .. The purpose for which the dehydrated meat will be used will largely determine the best method for dehydrating the meat properly.

  Dehydrating meat for preservation


Preservation is one of the major purposes for dehydrating meat. Dehydrating meat makes it possible for it to be stored for a few weeks or months without refrigeration.

Such meat can still be preserved for a much longer time such as one or two years, if the meat is well dehydrated and packed in a freezer.

If the meat is properly dehydrated, vacuum sealing it before freezing it will preserve it for much longer time.

Important Notice!

Dehydrating meat solely for the purpose of preservation necessarily implies that the meat must be re-hydrated before use. It should be preferably cooked too.

Dehydrating meat for jerky


As a result of not differentiating the purpose of dehydrating meat, many people simply allow a mix up. Such people allow meat that has simply been dehydrated for the purpose of preservation as a jerky. But . is different!

What is Jerky Meat?

Jerky meat is a ready to eat snack or food that is made from dried lean meat. It is popular among campers, outdoor sports enthusiast, hikers, backpackers, and even among families at home.

As a result of being ready to eat snack or food, its preparation must achieve two results.

The first result is that it must be preserved for the period of the time that the outdoor user or hiker will need it seeing he has no refrigerator with him.

The second result is that it should be dehydrated to meet most standards required of food or snacks. Therefore, it should not be raw and it must taste great.


Note that, for the purposes of preservation, dehydrated foods are regarded as raw. Raw meat or semi raw meat is unhealthy.

This implies that how meat is dehydrated for preservation should not be the same for the purpose of .. Please take note of that!


Having seen the purposes of dehydrating meat, it is at least a little obvious that the method of achieving the two different results will be a little different. So here we go!



Dehydrating Meat for Preservation

Dehydrated meat can be stored under room temperature for months. This implies that it is a very cheap and healthy way to store or preserve meat.

It is important to remind ourselves at this point in time that dehydrating meat for the purpose of preservation amounts to drying the meat in such a way that most, if not all, of its natural, physical, chemical and food properties are retained. These properties should not be lost in the course of the dehydration nor preservation.

The steps for proper dehydration of meat for the purpose of preservation are quite simple and straight forward.

Step 1:

Choose the meat to dehydrate

Not all meat is suitable for dehydration. If one must not be disappointed at the end of the exercise, it will be wise to start off on a good foundation. Meat rich in trans fat is definitely not suitable because they will not preserve well. Such meat will deteriorate after a short while. This is as a result of rancidity resulting from fats associated with the meat.

Using lean meat only is the best way to go. Such meat can be readily obtained from beef, goat, deer, buffalo, deer, antelope and a number of other animals that depend largely on grass.

For best results, the fat content of the beef should not be more than 10%.

Pork is a common example of the type of meat not very suitable for dehydration.

Step 2

Prepare the meat chosen

First trim the meat of excess fat. For the purpose of preserving the meat, it can be cut to any size or shape. However it must be noted that the bigger the size of the meat, then the longer it will take to dehydrate it properly.

Manual meat slicer for dehydrating meat

Manual meat slicer

The cutting process is enhanced by partially freezing the meat. This makes cutting or

slicing it a lot easier.

Meat slicers make cutting the meat a lot easier. It also enhances uniformity in slicing. There are both manual and electric slicers. There are varieties of .. You may wish to view these ..

The implication of large size cutting is that decay can set in before dehydration is successfully achieved. This is because the moisture content of the thick pieces at the center would remain high for long enough to allow micro organisms to be active. This will cause

Electric Meat Slicer for dehydrating meat

Electric Meat Slicer

spoiling of the meat.

To save time in dehydration, it is better to cut the meat in flat pieces or narrow strips.

For the purpose of preservation, curing the meat is optional but not very necessary at this stage.

Step 3

Turn on the dehydrator

There are a number of drying options available. But it is being taken for granted that dehydrating the meat will be by the use of a meat dehydrator.


It is important to have checked that the dehydrator is working fine before starting the entire process. It is usually frustrating and disappointing to get to this stage only to discover that the process cannot continue.

Spread the sliced meat on the rack evenly. It should be such that no slice overlaps the other.

Set the temperature of the dehydrator first to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for the first one hour.. This enables the dehydrator temperature to quickly build up and slow microbial activities. After the first hour, the temperature setting is reduced to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Depending on the thickness of the meat, the meat should be properly dried between 6-12 hours. The duration may also depend on the type of dehydrator being used. There are a variety of .. You may wish to check out on these ..

Step 4

Package for storage

Allow the dehydrated meat to cool to room temperature before packaging it. Packaging in Ziploc bags or in any air tight container should serve well. To increase the shelf life, it is better to store it in a freezer pending the need for it.

Note that dehydrating meat for storage does not actually cook it. Before eating such meat it is necessary to re-hydrate and cook it.

To re-hydrate the meat, put it in boiling water and allow cooking for 5 – 10 minutes. Desired ingredients can be added to improve the flavor and taste.


Dehydrating Meat for Jerky

As already pointed out, . meat is a ready to eat snack or food that is made from dried lean meat. It should never be confused with dehydrating meat for preservation.

Dehydrating meat: Jerky snacks

Jerky snacks

Taste and flavor are critical for the acceptance of dehydrated meat. Therefore spices are usually added to enhance their taste.

Commercially packaged . are in different sizes and shapes.

The following steps are involved in dehydrating meat for jerky.

Step 1

Select suitable meat

As already pointed out above, lean meat with fat content not exceeding 10% gives best results. The details and process outlined in the case of dehydrating meat for the purpose of storage still applies.

Step 2

Prepare the meat

For jerky, extra care is taken to remove the fat. This is necessary to minimize rancidity and improve the taste. Fat can be removed by pressing the meat or by mildly heating the meat and filtering out the melted fat.

The meat is then cut to thin, uniform sizes. The size of the cutting will determine how long it will take to dehydrate properly. Cutting is made easier by partially freezing the meat for a few hours before cutting. Also, using . make cutting easier and faster. These . are available on  amazon.

Step 3


This is a process used to improve the taste of the jerky. There are three main methods of doing so.

  1. Marinade method.

Marinade is a solution containing the spices that you want in the jerky. There are quite a lot of such according to differing individual’s tastes. A typical marinade recipe may include soy oil, salt, soy sauce, chili, spices (such as onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, curry powder, black pepper, etc) and acid ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice.


Well constituted marinade also will stop further bacterial activities on the meat. Some samples may lead to total bacterial destruction while it is not so with some samples.


To marinate the meat, combine all the ingredients to form a solution. Then place the sliced meat into the solution and place it in a refrigerator for about 12 hours so that the meat will absorb the flavor.


  1. Dry curing method.

In the dry curing method, salt and the desired spices are mixed in the desired ratio and then rubbed into the meat during a curing period of 2 or more days. This method of curing is not very popular because of the long period of time required for effective curing.


  1. Quick-cook method.

Salt and the desired spices are poured in a small quantity of boiling water before the sliced fresh meat is poured inside the water and allowed to boil for about three minutes. The water is then drained.


Step 4

Pre heating

A good dehydrator does not cook the meat or any other substance in it. It should just reduce water content while retaining most of the natural food properties of the food product.

But it is necessary that in jerky, the dehydrating meat receive heat up to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is about the minimum heat required to kill the bacteria that are obviously present it.

It is therefore necessary to pre heat the meat before drying. Why?

When a dehydrator is loaded with meat or other food products and switched on, it is the evaporating moisture that absorbs most of the heat produced by the dehydrator. As a result of this the meat itself does not begin to rise in temperature until most of the moisture have evaporated. Therefore, by the time the dehydrating meat is ready to rise in temperature; the bacteria are already more heat resistant. As such they may likely survive the dehydrator’s temperature.

Pre heating is therefore important to minimize the risk of food borne diseases. Remember that unsafe food is responsible for more than 200 disease conditions.  So it is always better to play safe.

Pre- heating can be done in two ways:

  1. Boiling

Boil the meat and marinade for at least 5 minutes before draining out the water and the melted fat in the water.


  1. Oven heat

Remove the meat from the marinade and oven heat the meat to a temperature of about 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. This can also be done at the point of using the meat.


Step 5

Dehydrating the meat

Spread the meat on the dehydrator rack. It should be arranged in such a way that they are not touching or overlapping.

Pack back the racks into the dehydrator and turn on the dehydrator. Having pre heated the meat, a lower temperature setting such as 145 degrees Fahrenheit will produce a fine dried jerky that will be very safe and also taste so delicious.

Pre heated meat in marinade will dry faster than one not pre heated. For the pre heated type one can start checking for signs of dryness after about 4 hours.

 Drying is assumed to be complete at the point that a test sample will crack without breaking when it is bent.

Dehydrating meat at lower temperature will produce uniformly dried meat but will take longer time. The typical time is between 6 – 12 hours.


Using a good dehydrator makes dehydrating the meat a lot easier. These . are readily available on amazon


Step 6

Package and store

At the end of dehydrating the meat, allow it to cool to room temperature. Unpack it from the racks of the dehydrator. It can be packaged into food grade storage bags such as Ziploc or into glass jars.  Longer lasting packaging can also be achieved by using vacuum packaging.

Properly dehydrated meat will remain fresh and preserved for more than 3 weeks without refrigeration. However, longer shelf life will be enhanced by preserving it in a refrigerator or freezer.


Method used to dehydrate meat will depend on the purpose for dehydrating the meat. The method used to dehydrate meat simply for preservation is slightly different from that of dehydrating for jerky.

Understanding this foundation difference between the two clears a lot of confusion.

So as you can see, dehydrating meat properly can be fun! It is also definitely economical.

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