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.

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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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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

how to dehydrate 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

I chose 93% lean grass fed ground beef. I started with 4 pounds of raw ground beef.

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

Cooking ground beef in a skillet before dehydrating it.
Brown the ground beef in a skillet over a medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until no pink remains.

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.

Rinsing cooked ground beef with hot water to remove fat before dehydrating.
After draining off the fat, I rinsed the ground beef with hot water.

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 (Amazon) 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.

boiling ground beef to remove additional fat before dehydrating
So, even though I started with lean ground beef, cooked it, drained off the fat, and rinsed it, as you can see in the image above, boiling the ground beef showed there was still plenty of fat in the ground beef.

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.

rinsing ground beef to remove fat before dehydrating the ground beef.
I rinsed the ground beef one final time, until the water ran clear.

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

how to dehydrate ground beef
Here’s a filled tray of beef that I’ll put into the dehydrator. Notice how the layer of ground beef is pretty thin, and there are a few gaps here and there to help with airflow.

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.

ground beef on dehydrator trays. There are a couple of larger pieces of ground beef that need to be broken into smaller bits.
In the middle and to the right you see a couple of larger pieces of ground beef that needed to be broken into smaller pieces before dehydrating.
ground beef on dehydrator trays broken into smaller bits before dehydrating.
Here’s what the same amount of ground beef looked like after I broke the clumps into smaller pieces.

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.

Dehydrate ground beef at 160 degrees Fahrenheit
My Nesco Dehydrator set at 160 degrees Fahrenheit

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

The top tray of the ground beef was mostly dehydrated after 3 hours in the dehydrator.
The top tray of the ground beef was mostly dehydrated 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.

ground beef after 3 hours in the dehydrator.
One of the lower trays after 3 hours in the dehydrator. The edges of the beef were completely dry, but parts of the ground beef still had some moisture.

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

completely dehydrated ground beef in a flour sack towel lined bowl
I put the dehydrated ground beef into a flour sack towel lined bowl to let it cool. Plus, the flour sack towel would absorb any residual fat – but there didn’t appear to be any fat on the towel. Mission accomplished!

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

dehydrated ground beef in mason jars.
I like to store my dehydrated ground beef in mason jars that I vacuum seal. These jars are only partially full, because I was conditioning them before vacuum sealing. I ended up being able to combine the dehydrated ground beef into 3 pints. You may recall that I started with 4 pounds of fresh ground beef. After dehydrating, slightly more than 1 pound of ground beef fits into a pint-sized mason jar.

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.

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.

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

dehydrated ground beef rehydrating in a mason jar with hot water.
Ground beef rehydrating in a mason jar. I fill the jar half way with boiling water, and then added the ground beef to it. I then put the lid on to keep the heat it to aid in the rehydrating process.

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!

Conclusion

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!

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