Tips on using a dehydrator to make beef jerky
Dehydration has been an age-old process that revolves around food preservation, where the moisture is eliminated from the food. These foods can either be consumed in their dry state or dehydrated for future consumption. This is where modern-day beef jerky dehydrators come into play as it decreases bacterial growth, thus promoting the shelf life of food.
Six useful tips to operate a beef jerky dehydrator:
- Always set the dehydrator to dry rather than opting to cook food and use an appropriate timer.
- Preparation is one of the most critical steps to using a dehydrator and increasing the jerky shelf life. Proper preparation guarantees better taste and maximizes the quality.
- A hundred percent dehydration is never advisable and can make it difficult to cook foods. Hence, always opt for 95 percent dehydration. It minimizes the chances of speed rotting as it prevents living organisms from attaching themselves to the food, thus maximizing shelf life.
- Always fill the trays appropriately as dehydration causes food to shrink. Hence, ensure that the spreads are not thicker than 3/8 inches.
- Never rush the drying process. It increases the risk of your food spoiling faster than it should once it’s stored.
- Adding food-grade oxygen absorbers to your canning jar or plastic bag eliminates bacterial growth, thus increasing the shelf life.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding meat dehydrators.
How does a dehydrator work?
Dehydrators are kitchen appliances that use a heating element, air vents, food trays, and fans to operate. The vents, fan, and the heating element work closely together to remove moisture and circulate air. The dehydrator sucks out the moisture from the food by heating it. This happens when the fan pushes the surplus moisture into the vents, which goes on to further release itself out of the dehydrator.
How long does it take to make beef jerky in a dehydrator?
Dehydrating jerky is a lengthy process and can be cooked in different ways – it can be prepared from either sliced meat or ground meat. Various processes take a different amount of time. A food dehydrator takes somewhere between 4 to 15 hours to dehydrate jerky from ground meat while, on the other hand, you will need to marinade and freeze the jerky while preparing it from lean meat for around 8 to 24 hours. Hence, it takes approximately 5 to 10 hours for a dehydrator to complete the drying process.
Do you have to use all the trays in a dehydrator?
Whether you use extra trays or opt for using a limited number of trays entirely depends on how you want to get on with the process.
Do you need to rotate the trays in a dehydrator?
Tray rotation is usually done to achieve evenness in the food that is being dehydrated. It would be best if you occasionally moved the trays in case you have increased capacity by using extra trays.
How do I know the jerky is done dehydrating?
Once the jerky has surpassed the dehydrator’s standard amount of time, lift the lid and remove a piece from the dehydrator. The jerky will be more pliable when it’s warm – hence, set it aside to cool for five to ten minutes on the counter. Post this, bend the jerky at a ninety-degree level to see if it is done. Put it back in the dehydrator again if the moisture oozes out. If it cracks and breaks, then it is overcooked. The jerky should break evenly to achieve perfection.
What is the best temperature to dehydrate jerky at?
The best temperature for dehydrating jerky is at least 60°C. If your dehydrator does not reach this safe temperature, you will need to preheat the jerky in the oven before dehydration.
With all the above hints and tips you can easily purchase the ideal dehydrator for your home and cook up some of the best lip-smacking jerky recipes. It all comes down to the individual choice at the end of the day – as what’s best for one person might not be the same for another. So the best thing to do is just keep making jerky and trying different combinations of recipes and temperatures vs time drying.