How Long to Dehydrate Jerky? -9 proven answers to your questions

Making beef jerky is one of the most delicious meals you’ll ever taste. How long to dehydrate jerky, we’ll teach you how to best cook beef jerky, paying particular attention to the time you left it in the dehydrator. We’ll also show you how long you should leave your jerky in the dehydrator so it looks as tender as you want. In fact, you may want to put it in a clothes dryer that is either heated and. We will further disclose how long meat treats will remain in a stored dehydrated diet cabinet.

how long to dehydrate jerky
The appearance of dehydrated jerky

There are several factors that affect meat dehydration, and you cannot say for sure how long you should dehydrate it. However, I have some helpful tips to help you determine when the jerky in a dehydrator jerky is ready, so let’s take a look at them.


How long does it take to dry homemade beef jerky?

Dehydrating anything, not just jerky, is a process that needs your attention as there is no perfect way to know when it’s done. If you follow the instructions of your dehydrator, where the recommended temperature for drying jerky meat is indicated, this does not guarantee you that you will get the desired result. Estimated dehydration times can be estimated, but you will need to check them again towards the end to make sure they are correct.

How long to dehydrate jerky. It may take 5 to 15 hours to dehydrate jerky meat depending on various factors.

It depends on the meat you choose, the thickness of the cut, whether you used dry grated or wet marinade, the humidity of your climate, and many other factors.

The question is what kind of meat texture do you want and how long will you keep the finished jerky.

But you have to remember the basic rules when drying jerky with a food dehydrator: Dryer jerky will last longer, while more moist jerky will taste better and be easier to chew.

It all depends on your tastes and preferences. After trying homemade jerky a few times in the dehydrator, you’ll find the perfect jerky recipe that you can use and refine every time.

Use the beef jerky recipe as an example where the beef is marinated in a simple marinade for around 6 – 10 hours before being dried. 

List of factors that influence the time taken for dehydrating

Drying jerky requires space between the pieces of meat so that they do not touch each other while it is being placed on drying sheets. Beef thickness and moisture play an important role, as well as its temperature. Temperature can affect the time it takes to dehydrate. For example, frozen beef meat contains more water than fresh beef slices. When you use a dryer with a dynamic temperature, you will need to wait longer for the drying process to be complete.

The first thing you need to do in order to make the perfect jerky at home is to choose the right fresh meat when purchasing it. These should be lean cuts of meat with a minimum of fat and connective tissue. The next step is to evenly cut the meat so that the pieces of meat are dried equally. It will be most convenient to cut meat with a special knife for cutting meat. Before chopping fresh meat into equal pieces, place the meat in the freezer until it is firm, but not frozen. Then it will be easier to cut it evenly into equal pieces.

Determining the precise drying time for any jerky will require you to alter certain variables since adjusting these will help you estimate (with practice) the amount of time it will take to dehydrate it.

Thickness: When dehydrated, the thickness of the meat affects the drying time. In other words, the thicker the piece of meat, the longer it will take for it to become dehydrated.

Sliced meat should be less than 1/4 “/ 6 mm but more than 1/8” / 3 mm. Between this range will give good texture without making it overly difficult to thoroughly dry the jerky.

Dehydration method: depending on whether you are drying cuts of meat in a special dryer, in the oven, or even in the sun, this will definitely affect the food dehydration time. The fastest and most effective way is to use a dehydrator. Drying in the sun or in the oven usually takes longer due to the lower airflow.

Marinade and Salt: This is the next important step in the preparation of jerky meat. It will all depend on your preferences to give your jerky a special flavor. You can use either a liquid marinade or rubbing the meat with special spices. This includes salt and pepper, onion or garlic powder, soy sauce or smoked paprika, chili or hot sauce, sweetness made from sugar, honey, or perhaps you would like to use sweet Teriyaki sauce. Remember if you are using a wet marinade, you will need to blot it thoroughly before drying the meat. The marinade left on the surface of the meat must dry before the meat begins to dehydrate.

how long to dehydrate jerky

The salt level also affects the amount of moisture in the meat before drying. The salt draws moisture out of the meat while enhancing the flavor of the marinade. This must be taken into account. By trying different flavors, you will choose your own seasoning recipe that is perfect for your family. Do not forget to write it down so as not to lose it and pass it on to the next generation of your kind.

how long to dehydrate jerky

Dehydrator Temperature: The temperature at which you want to dehydrate the jerky is important. Meat must be fully heated to 160 ° F / 71 ° C and 165 ° F / 74 ° C for poultry to keep meat safe for consumption and eliminate potential pathogens.

Once the temperature has been reached internally you can lower the heat in which you dehydrate jerky to around 130°F – 140°F. Dehydrating the meat at a higher temperature will, of course, make the dehydrating process go faster, however, the meat will be brittle and more difficult to eat.

How to check if beef jerky is ready – beef jerky doneness tests

To all intents and purposes, testing for “doneness” is a matter of sampling and testing. Towards the end of the drying process, it is especially important to monitor the drying process of jerky meat.

Several methods work quite well to verify the jerky is properly dried and they are as follows:

Putting a bend test to the test

how long to dehydrate jerky

The flex test is the easiest way to determine if beef jerky is ready when you know the food dehydrator has finished drying the jerky. After pulling the beef jerky from the food dehydrator, let it cool for 5 – 10 minutes before bending it.

When the jerky has cooled, bend it at a 90-degree angle and see if moisture is squeezed out. Cured meats take longer to dry if moisture is still present. A properly dried jerky should look almost frayed at the folds, but not crack.

Testing Chew

Try chewing the meat if you like the texture after you flex it and make sure you like the taste.

The texture of the meat should be like chewier beef jerky, not like dry jerky or moister jerky. Dried jerky should not be brittle or pungent, which could indicate over-drying. Once dried jerky is completely dehydrated, store it properly and it will last for a long time.

how long to dehydrate jerky
The texture of the meat should be similar to the more chewy beef jerky

Try venison or another game jerky. Just keep in mind that wild animals are carriers of various parasites or pathogens. Therefore, first, freeze the meat for a month before using it, this can kill most pathogens. At what temperature do you set deer jerky in a dehydrator? For added safety, dehydrate deer jerky at 165F. Add curing salt to your game jerky or use the marinade boil technique as a safety net.

Ground meat beef jerky recipes

Haven’t tried to cook ground beef jerky. You will be impressed by the real result and taste. Use 90 percent lean meat in this recipe with your favorite spices. Using a minced meat gun, place the strips of meat on trays of desiccant and cut them into equal 1/4 inch strips to dry. Dehydrate minced meat strips at 165F. Jerky strips on dehydrator trays spread so that there is enough space between them so that the dehydration process goes faster. We think that ground meat will appeal to older people and children more because these dried minced meat strips are easier to chew.

Dehydrated jerky after cooking

When the strips come out of the dehydrator at different degrees of dryness, you need to pack them loosely in airtight bags or containers for a few days to “cure.” The drier strips will absorb moisture from the moister ones.

how long to dehydrate jerky

You should seal your jerky in as airtight a container as you can so that oxygen has little contact with it. The less oxygen that can get to your jerky, the longer it will last. Vacuum-sealed bags are ideal. When jerky is incredibly dry, it can be stored for a few weeks at room temperature, but it’s always better to store it in the fridge or freezer for longer periods of time. Using both of these methods will lengthen the life of jerky’s flavor, and you’ll have less tendency to have mold or spoilage issues.

Browse the rest of our food dehydrator tips today, and become your own beef jerky specialist!

The following tips are learned from experience and should be helpful:

The marinade should be mixed together first

 – If you are making small batches of food, consider using re-sealable food storage bags, which make cleanup easier.

Ideally, it should be left to marinate for 24 hours

– Make sure to fully coat each piece of beef with the marinade when adding it to the marinade.

– When marinating in a re-sealable bag, remove as much air as possible from the bag while marinating

– Increase the coverage and oxygen absorption of the marinated meat by mixing or flipping it

-For optimal results, marinate the meat for about a week in the refrigerator

– More flavorful beef jerky is generally produced by marinating the meat longer

Spray nonstick cooking spray on utensils

– Because most jerky recipes contain some level of sugar, the finished product tends to stick to the drying rack.

– Spray the racks before laying out the meat

– The drip area (top of dehydrator base) needs to be sprayed if you are using a small round dehydrator.  

Make sure the racks are rotating

– If you have a small round dehydrator, you should check it about every hour

-The shorter the distance from the heat source, the faster the meat will dehydrate

– For round dehydrators with bottom racks, heat is captured most directly by the bottom racks  

Maintain a consistent thickness for the meat slices

– It’s easier to slice the meat if you put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and partially freeze it

– You generally want something between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick

– It is more difficult to handle thin slices or slices that fall apart

– It’s easier to work with thicker slices, but they don’t absorb the marinade as well, are chewier, and take longer to dehydrate.  

Arrange the meat according to your needs

– It is very difficult to get every single piece of meat the same thickness. As a result, some strips of meat will be ready before others. Therefore, remove cooked meats as you cook and combine those that are not yet cooked until all are done.

Make sure the jerky is not over-dehydrated

-When finished, the jerky will be very dry to the touch, but still somewhat flexible

The completed beef jerky should be stored in a resealable plastic bag

– If put in a properly ventilated area, beef jerky will last for months without refrigeration

To clean the racks, use a scrubbing brush made for pots and pans

-Run them through the dishwasher first

-After you remove the rack from the dishwasher, inspect and clean it immediately with a damp cloth

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