116: Dehydrating and Vacuum Sealing Meat

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Dehydrating and Vacuum Sealing Meats

Question from Jimmy – from Alabama


Can You Dehydrate Meats???


Doesn’t hydrate as well as veggies

  • They are chewier

Cooked Meats – Dehydrate 135F-160F (consult manual)

  • Don’t go below 135F

Vacuum sealed, dehydrated meats are known to last up to 2-3 weeks at room temp

Refrigerating or freezing will maintain quality and lasts longer

Fats and proteins – broken down by O2 and Light

  • Causes Poor Flavor and Spoilage

They are perfect for stews, soups, or dishes where they are cut up such as beef tips or stroganoff

Tips when Rehydrating Meats before We Go Into Detail

  • Adding chicken/beef stock adds more flavor
  • Small pieces rehydrate more evenly

General Preparation for Dehydrating

  • Choose Choice/Tender Cuts to reduce toughness
  • Less Fat – Fat goes rancid
  • Cut into small pieces
  • Cook it – thoroughly

Drying makes it easy to set up meals

  • Dehydrate all ingredients
  • Add all of your ingredients
  • Make meals and vacuum seal it.  Freeze until you want to go hiking.
  • This is great for hiking meals for overnight or multi-week hikes.
  • Designed for use for month long hikes.

If you aren’t ready to make meals

  • Dehydrate ingredients
  • Freeze the ingredients you are not ready to use until you can make meals
  • Take it out and let it sit to return to room temp before opening (condensation)
  • At room temp – you can open it
  • Make meals and re-vacuum seal it.  Freeze if desired.
  • Meals preserved this way have been good up to 8 months after packaging them

Place vacuum bags in Mylar bags

  • When vacuuming, use O2 absorbers
  • 3-mil bag

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Types of Meat to Dehydrate

  • Ground Beef
  • Sliced Ham
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Crab
  • Chicken

Dehydrating Beef

dehydrating beef

  • Called gravel by backpackers – doesn’t rehydrate well
  • Add breadcrumbs to the raw meat – allows liquid to penetrate it better
    • Turns out tender every time
  • Only use lean ground beef with fat below 15%
    • Lower is better
    • Usually labeled as ground round
    • Grass-fed beef is usually 7-10%
  • Prepare it
    • Each pound, ½ cup bread crumbs (can make them yourself)
    • brown over medium heat, fully cooked
    • blot with papertowels while cooking
    • press between papertowels after– remove oil
    • Dehydrate at 145F on sheets until hard
    • If drying for long term storage, no bread crumbs (soaks fat)

Dehydrating Sliced Ham, Lean Deli Roast Beef, Turkey, Chicken

  • Sliced 1/16 in thick
  • Slice into Strips of ¾-1”
  • Dry at 145F for about 6 hrs
  • Blot oil every couple hours while drying
  • Usually chewy when hydrated
    • Boil 2 mins to help soften it up

Dehydrating Shrimp

  • Frozen/Precooked/Peeled
  • Thaw in refrigerator or cold water
  • Slice into small pieces
  • Dehydrate at 145F for about 6hrs
  • No moisture remaining when cut

Dehydrating Tuna

  • Solid white tuna in water
  • Drain water
  • spread evenly on tray
  • Dry at 145F about 6 hrs
  • It will be crispy (yes it stinks!)

Dehydrating Crab

  • Imitation crab
  • Pull apart into small pieces
  • Dry at 145F about 6 hrs

Dehydrating Chicken

dehydrating chicken

  • Great for Chicken Salad
  • Low Fat Canned Chicken (looks like tuna can) rehydrates best or pressure cook your own
  • Drain can
  • Rinse fat away with HOT water
  • Pull chunks apart to smaller pieces
  • Dry at 145F about 8 hrs

Pressure Cooking Chicken to Prepare it For Dehydration

  • Press Cook a Potato
    • Peel and cube 4 oz potato
    • 1 ¼ cups fat-free chicken broth
    • ½ tsp salt
    • Heat until salt dissolves
    • Press cook high for 3 min, then set aside but don’t release pressure
  • Cut and Tenderize the crap out of 1 lb the chicken
  • Mash potato
  • Add chicken and any other veggies you want for flavor
  • Add lemon juice from one lemon slice
  • Press cook for 10 minutes
  • Don’t release, let it release on its own
  • Dehydrate at 145F till dry, about 4-6 hrs

How Long does Dried Meat Keep?

Dehydrated Meat keeps about 2-3 Weeks when sealed at room temperature

Factors Affecting Your Storage of Dried Meats

  • Temperature
  • Light
  • Oxygen
  • Moisture


  • Storage Temp 20F/10C Drop Doubles Food Life
  • Keeping Dehydrated Foods in Basement or a root cellar is a great idea


  • Freezing Stops the Clock on almost all biological processes
  • Freezing Dried Meat – Preserves It for Several Years
  • Vacuum Sealing Prior – Prevents Freezer Burn


UV from light breaks down protein and fat

Keep light away with

  • Mylar Bags
  • Buckets
  • Anything that doesn’t really let light in

Oxygen (O2)

Break down fats and protein

Fix O2 problems by Vacuum Sealing or O2 absorbers

Vacuum Sealing

vacuum sealing

  • Use a good quality vacuum sealer with 3-mil plastic sealing bags
  • I haven’t tried this, but heard you could use a brake bleeder from harbor freight to seal your jars when there is no electricity.
  • Any long term storage should be below 5% moisture. It will easily snap and won’t stick together.

O2 Absorbers

  • Iron pellets in a plastic jacket
  • Absorbs most of oxygen, leaving nitrogen (inert gas)
  • 300cc absorber per gallon of product
  • Not same as desiccant.  That is for moisture.


  • Careful to remove ALL moisture – Botulism
  • Moisture content = Initial weight of food – dry weight of food / dry weight of food X 100%
  • Heat kills botulism
  • Botulism isn’t a concern on truly acidic foods, so 30% moisture on oranges and tomatoes isn’t a problem.
  • 30% on Meat would be a major problem
  • Most fruits should be dehydrated to 20%, whereas veggies to 5% moisture
  • Use desiccants if you would like to continue to remove moisture
    • Again not the same as an oxygen absorber

Other Containers

Mason Jars

  • Airtight and you can see the food
  • You can use vacuum sealer attachments to remove most air

Zip Lock Bags

  • I don’t trust these bags to provide any seal

When eating dehydrated meat

  • If you doubt the food quality
    • Looks funny
    • Smells funny
    • Feels funny
    • Then don’t eat it
  • If it is all you got, boil a min of 20 mins to kill pathogens.

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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