Homemade beef jerky is convenient and economical. It’s a quick snack that provides protein and flavor, and can last for months or years without spoiling.
Dried meat isn’t always the most enjoyable form to eat or cook. Common examples, like dehydrated ground beef, are very hard and almost inedible, until you reconstitute them with water. This article will explain how to rehydrate meat, while retaining flavor and texture.
Using a beef jerky dehydrator
We’ll assume that you know how to make your own jerky. It’s a fun, delicious process that anyone can do at home with the right tools.
Consider the following beef jerky recipe. It uses a marinade that’s rather common and simple. There are thousands of recipes available, including many on this blog, but we’ll use this as an example.
- 8 lbs. beef
- 2 cups each Worcestershire and soy sauce
- 8 tbsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. hot sauce
- 2 tsp. dried ranch dressing
- 2 ½ tsp. each garlic powder and black pepper
- Pink Himalayan salt
Cut away all fat content from the meat and slice it into ¼” strips. We have extensive guides on how to do this, and you can also use lean ground beef or ask your butcher to slice the meat for you.
Prepare the beef jerky marinade. Soak the meat in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for 12-24 hours to marinate.
Set your dehydrator for beef jerky to 160 degrees F. Dry until you can no longer bend the meat, and most of the moisture has subsided. Some water content will return after cooling for 30 minutes.
Making beef jerky into moist meat
The most obvious method of rehydrating meat is to use boiling-hot water. Simply place the meat in a pot, and pour the water over it. The correct portion of meat to water is about a 1:1 ratio.
After an hour, it’ll start to dampen significantly. If this isn’t enough time to absorb all of the moisture, transfer it into the fridge for another hour or two, while sealed in a suitable container.
This method works equally well with dried ground beef. It’s a treasure in the camping world, because you can bring a bag of it out, and it can go for weeks or months without refrigeration. We offer the stipulation that there are correct and incorrect methods of preservation, which we discuss on our blog.
In any case, you can make cheesy macaroni and cheese with ground beef this way. Ingredients like dried milk, cheese and even eggs for other recipes are accessible when you have an effective dehydrator in your home.
Alternative methods to rehydrate jerky
Shredded beef jerky is another popular option. This method requires a food processor that’s capable of grinding dried meat. It should be fine enough that it feels more like classic chew than solid chunks of meat.
At this point, it’s easy to cook with. Add some butter to a pan and fry up the meat like you would with ground beef. It’ll have the same amazing flavors of your original beef jerky recipe, as well as the ingredients that you cook it with.
You could also use Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce with the boiling water method. We recommend this approach if you’re not interested in a low sodium beef jerky, and are starting with a recipe that doesn’t have a lot of flavor.
An electric food dryer is an effective way to preserve meat, and choose how to eat it!