What’s Inside: In this article I provide step-by-step instructions for how to dehydrate ground beef. I include photos for each of the steps. I also provide tips for how to store dehydrated ground beef, and how to rehydrate and use it.
In the realm of food preservation, knowing how to dehydrate ground beef is a game-changer. Whether you’re building a well-stocked prepper pantry, planning meals in jars, or prepping for your next backpacking or camping trip, dehydrated ground beef is an essential item to have on hand.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the many benefits of dehydrating ground beef, from its extended shelf life to its versatility in various recipes. I’ll share the process of choosing the best type of ground beef for dehydration, and provide detailed steps on how to prepare it for the dehydration process.
Additionally, I’ll delve into the specifics of dehydrating ground beef – how long it takes, the optimal temperature for dehydration, and some expert tips to ensure successful results. Lastly, I’ll cover how to properly store the dehydrated ground beef to maintain its quality, and share tips for using dehydrated ground beef.
So, whether you’re a seasoned pro at dehydrating foods or a novice just starting your journey, this article will equip you with all the knowledge you need to successfully dehydrate hamburger meat.
This article includes affiliate links.
Nesco FD-75 Dehydrator
In this article, I used the Nesco 75-A Snackmaster (Amazon) dehydrator. I like this dehydrator so much, that I own two of them! If you don’t already have a dehydrator, I recommend this one for its affordability, ease of use, and how easy it is to store.
- When dehydrating ground beef, choose lean ground beef, with a maximum of 15% fat
- Cook ground beef in a skillet over medium heat
- Drain the fat off the ground beef and rinse with hot water
- Boil the ground beef before draining again
- Dehydrate at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-6 hours
- Vacuum seal the dehydrated ground beef for long term storage
The Benefits of Dehydrating Ground Beef
Dehydrating ground beef presents numerous advantages, making it an appealing option for many. One significant benefit is that it serves as a hedge against inflation. As food prices continue to rise, preserving ground beef allows you to stock up on it at today’s prices, effectively helping you manage your grocery budget in the long term.
Also, in light of concerns about climate change, many governments worldwide are implementing restrictions on beef and other animal product production. These measures are likely to cause a further increase in prices and may limit availability in the future. By dehydrating hamburger meat now, you can ensure a stable supply in your pantry, regardless of market fluctuations.
Additionally, cooking with dehydrated ground beef offers a level of convenience that is hard to beat. Since it is already cooked before dehydration, it simplifies meal preparation. You can easily rehydrate and add it to soups, casseroles, sauces, or any other dish that calls for ground beef, saving you valuable time in the kitchen.
In short, learning how to dehydrate ground beef not only provides a way to preserve and extend the shelf life of your meat, but it also offers financial benefits and enhances the ease of meal preparation.
Choosing the Best Ground Beef for Dehydrating
Selecting the right type of ground beef is a critical step in the dehydration process. Ideally, you should opt for lean ground beef that has a maximum of 15% fat content, such as 85/15 ground beef. This is because fat can go rancid over time, and having less fat in your meat reduces this risk significantly, ensuring that your dehydrated ground beef maintains its quality for longer.
In this article, I’m using 93% lean, grass-fed ground beef. Grass-fed beef isn’t required, but it tends to be leaner and healthier, so that’s what I chose.
Remember, when it comes to dehydrating hamburger meat, the leaner the better. Your future self will thank you for making a health-conscious and practical choice that leads to tastier, longer-lasting dehydrated ground beef.
Preparing Ground Beef for Dehydrating
Proper preparation of your ground beef is key to successful dehydration. Start by gently browning the ground beef in a skillet until no pink remains. This ensures that the meat is fully cooked, which is vital as the dehydration process does not cook the meat but rather removes the moisture content. Also, if you cook the meat at a medium rather than high temperature, it may rehydrate better.
Once the ground beef is thoroughly cooked, be sure to drain off the grease. This step is essential in reducing the fat content, which, as mentioned earlier, can cause the meat to go rancid over time.
This is the colander that I use and recommend. It is available in a variety of colors, and is collapsible for easy storage. The arms extend to make it work with different sink sizes. I prefer this type of colander because rather than sitting in the sink, it is held high enough for grease and water to drain out.
Boil the Ground Beef for 5 Minutes
Next, rinse the cooked and drained meat under hot water until the water runs clear. This further helps to remove any residual fat and prepares the meat for the next step.
After rinsing, place the ground beef in a pot of water and bring it to a boil for approximately five minutes. This additional boiling process helps to further reduce the fat content.
After boiling, drain the water and give the ground beef another hot rinse. This thorough preparation ensures that your ground beef is as lean as possible, optimizing it for the dehydrating process and resulting in a superior end product.
The Dehydration Process: Setting Up, Temperature, and Timing
Once your ground beef is prepared and drained, it’s time to move on to the dehydration process. Start by spreading the cooked ground beef into a single layer on your dehydrator trays. To prevent the small bits of beef from falling through as they dehydrate, consider using mesh liners on the trays.
Be sure to break up any large clumps of ground beef. Smaller pieces will dehydrate more evenly and efficiently, ensuring consistent results across the entire batch.
Now, let’s talk about temperature and timing. Set your dehydrator to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is high enough to safely dehydrate the meat. Also, since the meat is already cooked, a high temperature won’t reduce any of the meat’s nutrition.
As for the duration, expect to dehydrate your ground beef for approximately 4-6 hours. However, keep in mind that the exact time may vary depending on factors like the thickness of your meat layer, your dehydrator, and the level of humidity in your home.
Ground Beef After 3 Hours in the Dehydrator
After 3 hours in the dehydrator, I noticed the ground beef was mostly dry on the top trays. However, the bottom trays were just starting to dry and still had a bit of a journey ahead. The meat was darkening in color, which is entirely normal and expected during the dehydration process.
To ensure even dehydration, I decided to rotate the trays, moving the ones that hadn’t dried as much closer to the heat source and fan. This is a best practice when using a stackable dehydrator like my Nesco, as it promotes uniform drying across all trays.
After rotating the trays, I returned the ground beef to the dehydrator for an additional 2 hours.
Ground Beef After 5 Hours in the Dehydrator
After 5 hours in the dehydrator, the ground beef was completely dehydrated.
Before moving to the next step, it’s crucial to let the dehydrated ground beef cool down. I allowed it about 15 minutes to rest and reach room temperature.
Next, I portioned the dehydrated ground beef into 4 pint jars, only partially filling each one. Partially filling the jars and leaving some space allows for better air circulation, which is beneficial during the conditioning phase.
Conditioning is the process where you shake the jars a couple of times each day to redistribute the ground beef. This helps ensure that the meat is completely dry and that there’s no residual moisture, which could lead to spoilage.
By following these steps, you’ll end up with perfectly dehydrated, preserved ground beef that’s ready whenever you need it!
How to Store Dehydrated Ground Beef
Once your ground beef has been thoroughly conditioned and you’re sure it’s completely dehydrated, it’s time to store it away. The key to long-lasting, fresh dehydrated ground beef is proper storage.
Begin by vacuum sealing the beef in mason jars. This process removes any residual air, which can cause the meat to go rancid over time. After sealing, store the jars in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cellar.
My Vacuum Sealing Recommendations
Below are my recommended products for vacuum sealing food.
My favorite way to store dehydrated food is in mason jars. In most cases, I vacuum seal the jars. When vacuum sealing meat and dairy products, vacuum sealing is an absolute must. The good news is that it’s super easy to vacuum seal mason jars, as long as you have the right attachments and a vacuum sealer. These are the Foodsaver mason jar attachments I use.
I love countertop vacuum sealers, but I don’t like how much space they take. Because of that, I invested in this Foodsaver handheld vacuum sealer. I keep it plugged in in the corner of my kitchen counter, where isn’t out of the way, but easy to get to. It works well with the mason jar attachments above, without the need for any other accessories.
If you want to be able to vacuum seal both mason jars and bags, then a countertop vacuum sealer is the way to go. A compact one such as this is a good option because it’s nice and slim and because of that is easy to store away when it’s not in use. To use it with mason jars, you’ll need the mason jar attachments above.
Keep in mind that your dehydrated ground beef storage must be airtight. If any air penetrates the container, the ground beef could go rancid within a couple of weeks. So, ensure a good seal!
If You Don’t Have Mason Jars or a Vacuum Sealer
Now, if you don’t have mason jars and the necessary vacuum sealer jar attachments, don’t worry! You can still vacuum seal your dehydrated ground beef in mylar bags.
Mylar Bags + Oxygen Absorbers
If you’re not quite ready to invest in a vacuum sealer, the easiest way to get started with vacuum sealing food is to use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. This set has a wide variety of sizes of mylar bags, and also comes with oxygen absorbers, so it’s a great way to get started.
By following these storage guidelines, you’ll ensure that your dehydrated ground beef maintains its freshness and quality, ready for you to enjoy whenever you please!
How to Use Your Dehydrated Ground Beef
Once you’re ready to cook with your dehydrated ground beef, the process is pretty straightforward. If you’re planning to use it in a non-soupy dish, simply cover the dehydrated ground beef with hot water and let it rehydrate for about 5-10 minutes. Once it has regained its moisture, it’s ready to be added to your recipe!
However, if you’re adding the dehydrated ground beef directly into a soup or another “soupy” ingredient such as spaghetti sauce, there’s no need to pre-rehydrate. Simply add the dehydrated beef directly into whatever it is you’re cooking, and let it simmer. As it cooks, the ground beef will naturally rehydrate from the liquid in your dish. Note that you may want to add some additional water to whatever your cooking, since the dehydrated ground beef will soak up some of the liquid. I typically shoot for a one-to-one ratio, adding 1 cup of water to 1 cup of dehydrated ground beef.
As a handy measure, remember that approximately 1 1/2 cups of dehydrated ground beef equals one pound of fresh ground beef. This can help you adjust your recipes accordingly.
By using these tips, you’ll be able to seamlessly incorporate dehydrated ground beef into your cooking, adding a convenient and tasty protein source to your dishes!
And there we have it! From dehydration to storage, and finally to your dinner plate, we’ve journeyed through the entire process of transforming fresh ground beef into a long-lasting, convenient ingredient. Dehydrating ground beef is not only a great way to preserve meat for longer periods, but also an excellent solution for those needing lightweight, easy-to-cook protein sources for camping or emergency food supplies.
By mastering these techniques, you’ll have a reliable method to preserve ground beef and a versatile ingredient at your fingertips, ready to use at a moment’s notice. So, why not give it a try? Happy dehydrating!
If you enjoyed this article on how to dehydrate ground beef, you’ll likely enjoy these related articles: