A food dehydrator is a practical kitchen appliance that allows you to reduce moisture in food. There’s generally one setting that you should be concerned with, which is temperature. This depends on wattage power, the amount of trays you have and the kind of food you’re drying.
A beef jerky dehydrator will focus more on performance. Meat requires an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, and since you’re cooking it at low heat, your dehydrator has to be able to keep up.
Making jerky is a little more complex than using a fruit dehydrator. They’re the same machine, but many foods like fruit, herbs, veggies, dairy and grains will require lower temperature settings. We’re going to share a few recipes and examples with you to show you everything you need to know to operate a food desiccator.
Making beef jerky – a practical example
Beef jerky will come in many forms. There’s seasonings, cures and sauces, as well as varying thickness and tenderness of the cuts of meat. Recipes will also have to be modified in order to work with different kinds of brawn, whether fish, beef, pork and even fruit jerky.
This beef jerky recipe is kept intentionally simple. All you do is cut and season the meat, set your dehydrator to 165 degrees F, and in a matter of hours, you’ll have up to 25 trays of jerky ready to enjoy.
- 2 lbs. steak
- 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- Black pepper and salt, to taste
Before slicing the beef steak, remove as much fat from it as possible. If you like your jerky a little more tender, cut it about ¼” thick into strips. You can also use a meat tenderizing mallet or some acidic ingredients like wine, tomato puree or apple cider vinegar in the beef jerky marinade. Use 1/8” strips for a thinner, tougher jerky.
Once it’s warmed up, place the marinated steak strips on the trays of your dehydrator for beef jerky. Set the automatic timer, if your model has one, for about 8 hours.
At this point, it won’t typically have enough of its moisture removed for long-term storage. The dryer the meat is, the less bacteria will grow, which allows it to last longer on the shelf.
Making jerky of all kinds
A meat dehumidifier can be used to dry all kinds of food. Fruit is exceedingly simple to work with, as you can puree multiple varieties together and create a fruit leather. You can also use whole or sliced fruits (depending on their type).
Bananas, for example, require a dehydrating temperature of about 125 degrees. It’s also a positive idea to blanch them in citric fruit juice to prevent the fruit from browning.
Fresh herbs, on the other hand, require much lower temperatures. Peruse our collection of practical recipes, tutorials and tips for more in depth examples of dry food!
It’s like using a jerky cure. By dehydrating your own raw food, you get access to fresh, organic foods at a lower price, because you’re purchasing and storing in bulk. You can blanch your crunchy green beans and split peas in boiling water as long as they’re fresh.
The instructions for your food dehydrator may vary, based on its quality. Some models just can’t keep up with the constant heat and air flow requirements that it takes to dehydrate authentic, fresh and nutritious food.
A beef jerky dryer is intuitive in practice, as long as you’re using the right settings for your recipes!