Adventures in Dehydrating – ground beef

Categories:Trail Food

30 lbs of ground beef separated out.

Over the weekend one of our local grocery stores had a great sale on ground beef.  I had bought one ten pound tube and decided it was such a great deal I went back and bought 3 more.  So you are most likely wondering what one does with 40 pounds of beef.  Well you first start off by separating it all down into one pound chunks and putting as much of that into my freezer as we could fit. I also ran out of quart sized bags which happen to be a perfect fit. The rest was broken into four pound chinks and put into gallon sized freezer bags.

To begin the dehydration process you need to cook up your ground beef. I would start with a pound to see how that will work in your dehydrator. If you have a large dehydrator just guesstimate you can always cook more if you want. After you cook the beef you need to drain the meat of as much of the grease as possible. Once you have drained the grease you need to wash it. I simply kept the cooked meat in the strainer and ran warm water over it for several minutes while mixing the meat around.

Drying the cooked ground beef.

After you have washed the meat you need to let it dry for awhile. I was not very scientific about this part but I would say an hour would be enough.  I lined a cookie sheet with paper towels and spread the meat out to dry. Every so often I would put a layer of paper towels on top and another cookie sheet and flip it over.  Replace the towels on the other cookie sheet and repeat flipping until the paper towels are no longer soggy.

After you have dried the meat its now time to place it in the dehydrator. My dehydrator came with a wet foods tray that I used however you can also place parchment paper in your trays which will keep the smaller pieces from falling through as they dehydrate. Set your dehydrator temperature to 155 degrees Fahrenheit or 68 Degrees Celsius.  6 hours is the standard for dehydrating beef however you might have to let it go longer depending on how small you are able to get the chunks of meat to be. Also depends on the humidity of the room. For me one batch took around 7 hours the other batch around 8 hours.

1lb of dehydrated beef.

The best way to tell if it is dehydrated fully is to tear apart some of the pieces and make sure that it is not still wet on the inside. You can also tell if its not done yet  by how it feels to the touch. If its hard like sand its done, but if its squishy and rough textured its not done.  Like everything else you dehydrate it will shrink and change from a grey color to a dark brown.   See photo to the right.

To rehydrate the beef it is a 1:1 ratio and a serving size is roughly 1-2 Tbsp per person.

What have you tried to dehydrate? What is your favorite home made dehydrated meal?


Happy Trails and Happy eating.



Adam Nutting relishes being an avid backpacker, hiker, and all-around adventure junkie. While he currently spends his time hiking in the backcountry of southern Arizona, he grew up in Missouri, where he was naturally inclined to spend as much time as he could outdoors. Adam’s passion for the outdoors grew as he climbed the ranks of the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, eventually attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

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