Dehydrating meals is taken into account certainly one of our oldest—if not oldest—methodology for preserving meals. For so long as our species has been gathering, foraging, and throwing spears at wild beasts, now we have been extending the expiration date on our meals via varied types of dehydration.

The idea of dehydrating meals is easy: take away moisture to stop the expansion of micro organism, fungus, and yeast. This may be completed via varied strategies utilizing totally different tools, although some choices are higher than others. The advantages of dehydrating meals far outweigh the negatives. You possibly can dehydrate most non- and low-fat meals, together with meat and contemporary fruit and veggies.

Advantages of Dehydrating Meals

Whereas dehydrating meals extends its shelf life, the method additionally supplies many different advantages. Some examples are under.

  • Reduces likelihood of micro organism and mould progress. (A part of extending shelf life.)
  • Maintains most of dietary worth regardless of lack of moisture. Nonetheless, some vitamins like B nutritional vitamins, vitamin C, and beta carotene are misplaced when moisture is misplaced, so chances are you’ll must compensate for these nutritional vitamins relying in your wants.
  • Reduces weight and measurement of meals. That is nice for whenever you’re planning a tenting or backpacking journey, when house is restricted and fewer bulk is most well-liked.
  • Concentrates taste, supplies distinctive texture. Similar as lowering a sauce, moisture goes out whereas taste stays in. For gadgets like orange slices, this creates a really candy, barely tart style whereas additionally offering a leathery texture when biting in. This precept of dehydration can be the rationale each deer hunter has extra buddies are looking season, all asking for one factor: jerky, please.
  • Getting inventive forward of spice mixing. Dehydrating then grinding meals to create a spice combine can produce a really flavorful and distinctive mix (instance: dehydrating blueberries, jalapeños, and garlic gloves then blasting right into a grind to combine with floor espresso, kosher salt, and black pepper).

Negatives of Dehydrating Meals

After its preliminary part of two hours at 160 F, you’ll be able to dehydrate each meat and fruit collectively at 140 for nevertheless lengthy is important. Jack Hennessy

There aren’t many, and all could be overcome, if an individual is conscious and acts accordingly.

  • Extra energy in smaller package deal. It may be straightforward to overeat, so be conscious of the unique calorie depend whatever the present measurement of the meals. Gasoline stations could promote snack-size jerky, however, for some manufacturers, two items is equal calorie-wise to the really useful meat serving measurement for lunch or dinner (160-200 energy).
  • Much less water consumption. We get upwards of 30 % of our every day water from our meals. Should you’re consuming extra dehydrated meals than regular, ensure that to compensate by consuming extra water.
  • Lack of some nutritional vitamins. Similar as compensating by consuming extra water, chances are you’ll want to spend money on a every day vitamin if planning to outlive on dehydrated meals for a time period.

Strategies and Gear for Dehydrating Meals

Photo of meat in a pellet grill
A pellet grill, one thing so simple as this Ranger from Traeger, is a stable possibility for dehydrating meat. Jack Hennessy

Solar and air drying don’t require tools and are probably one of many oldest methods to dehydrate meals but in addition introduce a pair uncontrollable elements for some climates: temperature and humidity degree. The perfect temperature for dehydrating meals will differ by meals, however, as a common rule, the humidity degree must be saved between 12 and 18 %, a situation that could be onerous for some in sure areas to depend on.

For the above causes, varied tools can be utilized to extra reliably dehydrate meals.

Photo voltaic Drying

Powered by the solar, these operate through the use of solar’s energy to warmth air, which then circulates across the meals to dry it out. This gear is extra environmentally pleasant, however at the price of {dollars} and probably reliability in comparison with different choices.


A convection oven, in precept, isn’t a lot totally different than an electrical dehydrator, assuming it circulates heats evenly. Nonetheless, most ovens received’t go as low by way of temperature in comparison with a dehydrator. Some meals require temps decrease than an oven present; in any other case you find yourself hardening the meals and ruining its texture earlier than it ever correctly dehydrates. However for jerky, or something that requires 140 F or increased, a very good convection oven—assuming its inside temperature gauge capabilities correctly—is an possibility. Typical ovens aren’t an incredible possibility for something, however are extra reasonably priced.

Smoker / Pellet Grill

Most people who smoke and pellet grills received’t go under 160 F since that is thought-about the bottom “secure” temperature for cooking/smoking meat. However a smoker or pellet grill, similar as a dependable convection oven, will flow into warmth and air evenly to dehydrate meals that may work within the 160 F vary over a protracted time period.

Electrical dehydrator

That is, in my view and expertise, probably the most dependable methodology. Costs will differ, however you’ll be able to often discover a high quality one, when on sale, for $100 or so. I’ve utilizing MEAT!’s 6-Tray for a number of years now and it capabilities very nicely. A superb dehydrator will go as little as 90 F and as excessive as 170 F whereas offering constant 360-degree airflow. That is one  of the few items of kit I really feel belongs in each kitchen.

Basic Greatest Practices for Dehydrating Meals

Photo of hand-cut meat being prepared for dehydration
You possibly can hand-cut meals for dehydration, however, generally, for the very best, most-uniform outcomes, chances are you’ll want to incorporate a slicer or mandoline. Jack Hennessy

As talked about earlier, most non- or low-fat meals are honest sport. Meals with a notable fats content material—corresponding to eggs, avocados, olives, something dairy—current food-safety points, as fats, by way of meals preservation, will oxidize and trigger spoilage.


When dehydrating meals, you need to hold slices or items as uniform as potential—slices probably no thicker than 1/4-inch. As a result of some meals can take upwards of 48 hours to dehydrate, the slightest distinction in measurement over a protracted time period may imply one piece will get dehydrated appropriately whereas one other doesn’t (whether or not too dry or not dry sufficient).

Blanching or steaming

Blanching (dipping meals in boiling water then shortly pulling and cooling in an ice bathtub or beneath chilly operating water) can assist greens retain their colour and cut back dehydration time. For any vegetable you wouldn’t eat uncooked or which are notably robust (e.g., carrots or potatoes), it helps to first blanch; in any other case the dehydration time will probably be probably days. With fruits corresponding to berries or cherries, a blanch will crack the pores and skin and promote faster and extra thorough dehydration.

Ascorbic or citric acid

These each are an possibility to stop the browning of some fruits corresponding to apple slices. I personally prefer to squeeze contemporary lemon juice overtop my apple slices earlier than dehydrating.

Basic Greatest Temps and Occasions for Dehydrating Meals

It would differ significantly by kind of meals and the way you’re prepping the meals. For instance, sliced apples and blueberries would require an identical temperature however, although each fruits, will differ considerably by way of time wanted. The “doneness” check may even differ by particular person meals merchandise, chances are you’ll must analysis a bit extra other than the information right here.

Meals Temperature Time vary
Herbs 95 F 1-4 hours
Greens 125 F 4-18 hours
Beans and lentils 125 F 4-8 hours
Mushrooms 125 F 3-10 hours
Fruit 135 F 6-24 hours
Sauces and syrups 135 F 6-12 hours
Pre-cooked meats 140 F 4-6 hours
Grains 145 F 6-24 hours
Uncooked, lean meat 160 F 4-8 hours

Expiration Date

Vacuum sealing—whether or not by way of baggage or jars—removes air and can assist protect meals. The tighter the seal, the higher. Desiccant packets assist in eradicating moisture, whereas oxygen-absorber packets take away oxygen. Each are an possibility to increase shelf life, as the mixture of oxygen, moisture, and warmth result in spoilage. To scale back results of warmth, retailer in a cool, dry place. For some meals with an air-tight seal, the shelf life is upwards of 30 years in response to some sources. Nonetheless, under are some common timelines based mostly on common finest practices for dehydrating meals at house.

Meals Shelf life
Herbs 1-2 years
Greens 6 months
Beans and lentils 1-2 years
Mushrooms 2-4 months
Fruit 6-12 months
Sauces and syrups 6-12 hours
Pre-cooked meats 1-2 months, 6 months if cured
Grains 1-2 years
Uncooked, lean meat 1-2 months, 6 months if cured

Concepts for Dehydrating Meals

Photo of a dehydrator filled with meats and fruits
Few smells prime that of freshy brewed espresso alongside the wafting fumes of dehydrating whitetail jerky and cinnamon-spiced apples. Jack Hennessy

The method of dehydrating meals could be fairly enjoyable and, relying in your life-style, having dehydrated meals available can is a serious comfort. For backcountry hunters, pulling sport from the freezer and dehydrating is a good way to make room for the upcoming season whereas additionally saving cash versus buying pre-packaged dehydrated meals. Under are some concepts to get you began.

Dehydrated camp meal

It might be one thing so simple as shopping for a frozen mixture of greens, cooking some lean floor meat with a little bit of seasoning, then dehydrating each and mixing with potatoes flakes (immediate potatoes). Vacuum seal then mix in a thermos with boiling water for a heat, hearty meal whereas tenting.

Apple chips

It is a favourite amongst my children. It’s fairly easy: Core an apple, sliced to 1/4-inch thickness, squeeze contemporary lemon juice overtop either side of all slides, sprinkle with Bearded Butcher Mix Cinnamon Swirl, dehydrate at 140 for 8-10 hours.

Fruit Leather-based

Get inventive with fruit medleys, puree, maybe add some honey, place on parchment paper and place in dehydrator at 140 for 6-8 hours. This feature is way more healthy and extra scrumptious than something store-bought.


Photo of meat in a pellet grill
One profit a pellet grill can supply {that a} dehydrator can not is that smoky taste. Jack Hennessy

That is an oldie however a goodie: “Bourbon Cherry Chipotle Venison Jerky,” comprised of complete muscle. Don’t have venison? Use beef, prime spherical.

Selfmade oatmeal

Dictate your breakfast and minimize down on the sugar from all that store-bought stuff with this one. Choose up some quick-cooking rolled oats, some gentle powder, and dehydrate your favourite fruits, maybe embrace some nuts within the package deal. Similar because the camp meal, seal then rehydrate with boiling water.

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