How to Dehydrate Meat Before Cooking

When you want to store your meat in order to keep it longer, you should try dehydrating it. Dehydrating is one of the oldest and most effective ways to extend the shelf life of certain food items, such as meat. When meat is dehydrated, it can also be a great snack for outdoor enthusiasts as the meat can help give you energy while you are on a hike

You can dehydrate any raw meat. The method and time it can take to dehydrate the meat can vary depending on the type of meat you are dehydrating. For example, you can dehydrate ground beef by drying it at 145°F for approximately six hours.

Continue reading to learn more about dehydrating meats as well as the fastest and easiest ways to dehydrate your meats.

How Long Will Dried Meat Keep?

When kept in places that are unrefrigerated, dried meat can last for approximately two weeks. After this period, it is best to move your dried meat to either a freezer or a refrigerator. In these locations, dried meat can last for up to six months. After this period, the meat can go bad.

If you choose to freeze your dried meats, they can last for many years. You will want to vacuum seal the meat before freezing in order to prevent freezer burn which can cause the meat to be ruined.

You can also store your dried meats in a dark and cool area in order to prevent oxidation, which can cause the fat in your meat to turn rancid.

Dehydrating Meat in a Food Dehydrator

A food dehydrator is considered to be one of the best ways to dehydrate and dry your meats, but the instructions that come with these dehydrators may cause more harm than good.

According to many user guides that come with food dehydrators, you are to place the meat you wish to dehydrate directly into the dehydrator without cooking it beforehand. This, however, is not a safe way to dehydrate meat.

It is possible that the meat that you place inside the dehydrator may not reach the same temperature that the dehydrator has set. This can allow for pathogens to survive the drying process, which can cause you to become ill upon eating the meat.

The best way to avoid this is to cook the meats before placing them in the dehydrator. This will allow for pathogens to be killed, which will make the meat safe to eat.

Fastest and Easiest Way to Dehydrate Meat

Dehydrating meat can take some time. Even if you set the meat to dry at the highest possible heat that does not cause for the meat to burn, it can take a few hours for the meat to completely dehydrate.

Luckily, there are some methods you can use that make dehydrating meat faster and easier.

Use Pre-cooked Sliced Meats!

By choosing to dehydrate meats that are already cooked and sliced, the process of dehydrating can become much easier. Since the whole process of dehydration focuses on removing the water content of the meat, it makes sense that using meat that is already cooked and made into smaller pieces would take less time to dehydrate as there is already less water content.

Snacking and Backpacking – Beef Makes a Beef Jerky Treat!

Beef jerky is one of the most popular results of meat being dehydrated. It has become a great snack for those who like to hike or as a common snack found in most grocery and convenience stores.

When meats are dehydrated, such as with beef jerky, they can serve as a great source of protein for those who are spending a great deal of time in the outdoors. When it is made properly, beef jerky tends to have a long shelf life.

Dehydrated meats also tend to be a much healthier option when compared to meats that are not dehydrated. Dehydrated meats are high in protein and low in fat, which allow for them to give your body more energy to use when you are doing outdoor activities, such as hiking.

How to Dehydrate

While the process of dehydrating foods centers around the same goal, which is removing the amount of water in the food, this process can be different depending on the type of food you are planning on dehydrating. Within the category of meats, the times and process of dehydrating can vary as each meat has different requirements.

Ground Beef

Ground beef is a popular meat that is dehydrated. It is often known as “gravel” by backpackers due to the fact that ground beef does not rehydrate well. When ground beef has been dehydrated, many backpackers and hikers will add breadcrumbs to the dehydrated meat in order to allow for more liquid to perforate the meat, so it becomes tender when it has been rehydrated.

In order to dehydrate ground beef, you want to dry the meat at around 145°F or 63°C for approximately six hours. You will also want to use a paper towel in order to remove any oils from the meat.


Ham can also be dehydrated. The best ham for dehydration is deli ham that has been sliced for sandwiches. This ham has already been cooked and has a smaller area that makes it easier to dehydrate.

In order to dehydrate ham, you want to cut the ham into strips that are ¾” or 1” wide. You can then place the ham in the dehydrator. You want to dehydrate the ham at 145°F for approximately six hours.


The best and quickest shrimp to dehydrate is medium-sized shrimp that is precooked and peeled. It is also good if this shrimp is already frozen. You will first want to thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator, and you want to cut it into four or five pieces.

After you have done this, you can place the shrimp in the dehydrator at a temperature of 145°F for around six hours. This should ensure that there is no moisture remaining in the shrimp.


If you want to dehydrate tuna, it is best to go with solid white tuna that is packed in water. Tuna that is fattier or tuna that has been packed in oils may spoil too quickly.

For tuna, you want to drain the water off of the tuna, and you want to break the tuna into small pieces. These pieces are to be spread out in a single layer when you put them in the dehydrator.

The tuna will dehydrate at 145°F for six hours.

Imitation Crab Meat

Imitation crab meat is one meat that does tend to rehydrate really well. Since imitation crab meat does not come frozen, it is best to get the kind that is refrigerated in a vacuum pack.

Similar to the other meats, imitation crab meat can be dehydrated at a temperature of 145°F for six hours.


Dehydrating meat is a great way to ensure that your meat will last longer. Dehydration is one of the oldest methods used to increase the shelf life of different foods, such as meats. Dehydrated meats can be a great source of protein when you are spending time backpacking or hiking.

You can dehydrate many different types of meat. It is best to cook the meat before dehydrating as the meat may not reach the temperature of the dehydrator. This can cause pathogens to continue to exist on the meat rather than being killed.