The 5 Best Ways to Dry Meat

The 5 Best Ways to Dry Meat

The 5 Best Ways to Dry Meat

Introduction

Drying meat is one of the oldest and most reliable ways of preserving food. It has been practiced for centuries by various cultures around the world. By removing the moisture from the meat, you can extend its shelf life and make it easier to store for long periods of time. In addition, dried meat can be a great source of protein during times of food scarcity or emergencies. If you’re a prepper or just someone who wants to learn a valuable survival skill, knowing how to dry meat is essential. In this article, we will explore the 5 best ways to dry meat, along with some tips and tricks to ensure success.

1. Sun Drying

Sun drying is the simplest and most traditional method of drying meat. It requires minimal equipment and relies on the heat and airflow provided by the sun. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

– Choose lean cuts of meat with minimal fat content, as fat can become rancid during the drying process.
– Slice the meat into thin strips, about 1/4 inch thick. Thinner slices dry faster.

Step 2: Create a Drying Rack

– Find a clean, flat surface that receives plenty of direct sunlight.
– Place a clean wire mesh or drying rack on top of the surface. This will provide airflow around the meat.

Step 3: Arrange the Meat

– Lay the meat strips on the drying rack, making sure they don’t overlap.
– Leave enough space between the strips for air to circulate.

Step 4: Protect from Insects

– Cover the meat with a fine mesh or cheesecloth to prevent insects from laying eggs on it.
– Make sure the covering is secure and doesn’t touch the meat.

Step 5: Dry in the Sun

– Place the drying rack with the meat in a sunny spot.
– Rotate the meat occasionally to ensure even drying.
– Depending on the weather conditions, drying times can vary from a few days to a couple of weeks.

2. Using a Food Dehydrator

If you prefer a more controlled environment, using a food dehydrator is an excellent option. Food dehydrators are specifically designed to remove moisture from food while maintaining the optimal temperature. Here’s how to use a food dehydrator for drying meat:

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

– Same as in the sun drying method, choose lean cuts and slice the meat into thin strips.

Step 2: Arrange the Meat

– Lay the meat strips on the dehydrator trays, ensuring they don’t overlap.
– Leave space between the strips for proper airflow.

Step 3: Set the Temperature

– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the temperature for meat drying. Generally, it should be around 140°F (60°C).

Step 4: Start the Dehydrator

– Turn on the dehydrator and let it run for several hours or according to the recommended drying time for meat.

Step 5: Check for Dryness

– After the recommended time, check the meat for dryness. It should be dry and firm but still slightly pliable.

3. Smoking

Smoking not only adds a distinct flavor to the meat but also aids in its preservation by drying it out. It requires a smoker, which can be a standalone unit or even a makeshift one. Here’s how to smoke meat for drying:

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

– Choose the type of wood chips you want to use for smoking. Popular choices include hickory, applewood, and mesquite.
– Season the meat with your preferred spices or marinades, if desired.

Step 2: Heat and Smoke

– Preheat the smoker to a temperature of around 225°F (107°C).
– Place the meat on the smoker racks, ensuring there is enough space between them for the smoke to circulate.

Step 3: Smoke the Meat

– Add the wood chips to the smoker and let them produce smoke.
– Smoke the meat for several hours, depending on the thickness of the cuts and the desired level of smokiness.

Step 4: Check for Dryness

– After smoking, check the meat for dryness. It should be dry on the surface and slightly firm to the touch.

4. Air Drying

Air drying, also known as “hanging,” is a method commonly used for drying cured meats like jerky or biltong. The process involves hanging the meat in a well-ventilated area with controlled temperature and humidity. Here’s how to air dry meat:

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

– Same as in the other methods, choose lean cuts and slice the meat into thin strips.

Step 2: Add Salt or Cure

– Before hanging the meat, you can sprinkle it with salt or apply a curing mixture. This helps to preserve the meat and enhances the taste.

Step 3: Hang the Meat

– Tie each strip of meat with butcher’s twine or use metal hooks to hang them.
– Hang the meat in a well-ventilated room with a temperature between 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C) and humidity around 60%.

Step 4: Wait and Monitor

– Let the meat hang for a few days to several weeks, depending on the thickness of the cuts and environmental conditions.
– Monitor the meat regularly to ensure it doesn’t spoil or develop mold. Trim off any moldy or spoiled parts.

5. Oven Drying

If you don’t have access to the sun or a food dehydrator, you can still dry meat using an oven. Although it requires more energy, it can be an effective method. Here’s how to dry meat in an oven:

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

– As usual, choose lean cuts and slice the meat into thin strips.

Step 2: Preheat the Oven

– Preheat the oven to its lowest possible temperature, usually around 160°F (70°C). Use a thermometer to ensure accuracy.

Step 3: Arrange the Meat

– Place the meat strips on a wire rack or directly on the oven racks.
– Leave space between the strips for proper airflow.

Step 4: Dry in the Oven

– Place the meat in the preheated oven and prop the oven door open slightly to allow moisture to escape.
– Let the meat dry for several hours, checking for dryness at regular intervals.

Step 5: Check for Dryness

– Once the meat is dry and firm to the touch, it is ready to be removed from the oven.

Conclusion

Drying meat is an invaluable skill for any prepper or survivalist. By knowing the best ways to dry meat, you can ensure a long-lasting, protein-packed food source that’s easy to store and carry. Whether you choose sun drying, using a food dehydrator, smoking, air drying, or oven drying, each method has its own merits. Experiment with these techniques to find the method that works best for you in terms of flavor, convenience, and available resources.

My 2 Cents

Drying meat is not only a practical way to preserve food, but it also enhances its flavor and texture. However, it’s important to remember that proper food safety practices should always be followed when drying meat. This includes using clean equipment, maintaining proper temperatures, and ensuring the meat is fully dried before storage. Additionally, always choose high-quality meats and store the dried meat in a cool, dry place to maximize its shelf life. Dried meat can be a versatile ingredient in various dishes or a reliable source of protein during emergencies. So, why not give it a try and add this valuable skill to your survival arsenal? Happy drying!