Making Beef Jerky in an Electric Dehydrator

An electric dehydrator at home is a handy tool for creating beef jerky. This kitchen equipment and the homemade beef jerky is makes beats preservative-filled packaged jerky without compromising the rich, meaty texture dried beef jerky strips.

Most electric dehydrators also have a built-in thermostat perfect for adjusting temperature settings. Quality food dehydrators are very convenient for making beef jerky and versatile enough to use with other foods as well.

How an Electric Dehydrator Works

An electric dehydrator works by suctioning air into the bottom of the unit with an electric heating system fanning warm air directly across the meat. Meats have moisture stored inside of them so the dehydrator simply vaporizes the water content. The meat starts to contract, turns a shade of dark brown, and completely dries up.

To make beef jerky using the dehydrator, here is the step-by-step process to be followed:

Remove the trays that come with the dehydrator and wash them with soap and water. Remember, the parts of the dehydrator with any electric parts should get wet. Dry off the trays.

Slice the beef meat into thin slices, about 1/4" thick, for a faster drying time. If larger pieces are preferred, drying time may take several hours longer.

Turn on the dehydrator at about at 140 ?F to 160 ?F temperature and pre-heat the dehydrator before putting in the tray of sliced meat strips. The pre-heating stage takes around 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the dehydrator.

While the dehydrator heats add the meat to the drying trays. The meat strips should be aligned in a single layer with spaces between them to allow good air flow. This may take six to 18 hours. There can also be a need to periodically rotate the trays for even cooking.

To tell if the meat strips are dried and ready, get clean kitchen tongs and hang the strips on a wire rack. If a strip flexibly bends and does not snap in half, then the beef jerky is ready for eating or storing.

General Concerns of Making Jerky in an Electric Dehydrator

While electric dehydrators are commonly used for making beef jerky and for drying any lean meat cuts, there are still concerns that come with using the equipment.

Generally, there are food dehydrators in varying brands, shelf sizes, and models out on today's market. It may seem mind boggling what to choose especially if you are using a dehydrator for the first time. When looking at dehydrators, determine how large of batches of beef jerky strips you are going to make at home. Dehydrators typically come in five to 12 trays. Some trays and shelves for dehydrators are sold separately so it's more costly.

Another concern is about the drying period. Dehydrators consume energy as they run for longer time periods for drying meat. If you pause halfway through the drying process, you draw in bacterial organisms to develop even if the meat is already heated.

Also, there is the matter of taste adjustment. If you are used to buying commercial beef jerky, your homemade dried meat may not taste exactly the same as your store-bought one. This is typically because store-bought beef jerky contains many additives and sugars. But for healthy and inexpensive beef jerky, using homemade dehydrators is worth the effort.

General Benefits of Making Jerky in an Electric Dehydrator

While there are concerns, using an electric dehydrator has its advantages.

Convenient and Nutritious

Beef jerky is a healthy recipe that can be conveniently carried during your backpacking and hiking adventures or just stored for longer periods for future consumption. Using the dehydrator makes this achievable and very convenient.

Value for Money

Besides drying jerky, dehydrators can be used for preserving fruits and vegetables. Dehydrators are packaged with air vents, heating coils, fans, trays, and other accessories. It's a kitchen tool that can meet many different drying purposes.

Food is more Flavorful

Dehydrators amplify flavors in the meat. Whether the meat is marinated in sugary, tangy, or spicy rubs and sauces, dehydrators perk up the flavors and make beef jerky intensely flavorful.
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