Drying is one of the oldest known methods of food preservation and is a great way to add variety and interest to your diet. Modern dehydrators can be used for everything from apples to green beans, but the best way is to make jerky. If you are a hunter and don’t know what to do with leftover meat, or if you like to buy meat in bulk, you may want to consider investing in a dehydrator that is ideal for jerky.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a dehydrator. An important thing to consider is the type of dehydrator you want as well as the capacity. Stackable units change levels by stacking rings. They are usually expandable, so you can increase capacity as needed. On the other hand, shelf-type units have a fixed number of trays, but some still provide a large drying area. The temperature range is also important, as each food has a safe dehydration temperature. To safely make jerky, you need a dehydrator that can heat to 160°F or 165°F for poultry.
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Best Dehydrator for Deer Jerky
What is a Food Dehydrator?
Food dehydrators are simple machines. They are made of plastic or stainless steel. Most home dehydrators have a built-in motor and use a fan to disperse heat. There are two types of air circulation in dehydrators: horizontal and vertical.
Simply put, a dehydrator removes moisture from food. In this way, the shelf life of food can be extended. The most common foods to dehydrate are fruits, meats, and herbs.
Each dehydrator has a different number of trays on which the food is placed. Trays are usually made of plastic or stainless steel. Cheaper dehydrators often have plastic trays, while more expensive ones use stainless steel trays.
When purchasing a food dehydrator, you should always consider the amount of food you are dehydrating. Once you start dehydrating, you will want to do more, so it is best to purchase a dehydrator that is slightly larger than the proper size.
Best Meats for Jerky and How to Cut Them
There are several types of meat that can be used for jerky. Not all parts of the animal are best for jerky; some cuts tend to be very tough, fatty, or tender. Generally speaking, the least fatty cuts are the best. Here are some of the most commonly used meats and meat cuts for jerky.
This part is not perfect, but it is perfect for making jerky. It is not well known, but it is very tasty. This part of the meat is the front end of the hind leg.
Beef Eye of Round
This is the most popular cut of meat for making jerky. It is lean and inexpensive. If there is any skin or silver fat on the meat, it is best to cut it off before making jerky.
The highest part. There is a white streak in the middle, but don’t worry about it. If you get it with silver skin, you have to cut it. The grain on this steak is very long, so you will need to cut the strips of jerky in the opposite direction of the grain.
The top round is similar to the bottom round. It is softer than the bottom round and a little cheaper than the bottom round.
This is the least tender part of the beef jerky, but it is still excellent because it is lean and flavorful. It is a bit more expensive than eye of round.
If you are making jerky from ground beef, it is recommended that you purchase lean ground beef. Extra-lean ground beef should have 96% lean points and at least 4% fat. The advantage of ground meat is that it is much different in texture than whole meat, making it easier to chew and less stressful on the teeth.
Deer meat is a very lean meat. They are always running around in the woods and eating healthy organic food. My father-in-law harvests venison, so sometimes I get a chance to taste deer jerky. The meat has a richer, more robust flavor than beef. It is best to get meat from animals that are at least one year old. The meat from younger animals is very tender and can be quite difficult to cut into thin strips for jerky.
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Best Dehydrator for Deer Jerky | Comparison Table 2023
5-Stars pick | Great Prices | High Quality
|Excalibur 3926TCDB Electric with Clear Door Adjustable Temperature Settings and 26-Hour Timer, 9-Tray, Black||Excalibur||Check Price|
|Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator||Presto||Check Price|
|Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator for Fruit and Jerky, Vegetables and More, 5 Trays, Adjustable Temperature, 48 Hour Timer + Auto Shutoff, Grey (32100A)||Hamilton Beach||Check Price|
|Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, For Snacks, Fruit, Beef Jerky, Gray||Nesco||Check Price|
|Excalibur Food Dehydrator 9-Tray Electric with 26-hour Timer, Automatic Shut Off and Temperature Settings for Faster and Efficient Drying, Black||Excalibur||Check Price|
|Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster Digital Pro Food Dehydrator, for Jerky and Snacks, White||Nesco||Check Price|
|L'EQUIP 528 6 Tray Food Dehydrator, 500-watt||L'EQUIP||Check Price|
|Aroma Housewares - AFD-815B Aroma Housewares Professional 6 Tray Food Dehydrator, Black||Aroma Housewares||Check Price|
|Cuisinart DHR-20 Food Dehydrator, Steel Gray, 13.38 x 15.63 x 12 inches||Cuisinart||Check Price|
Best Dehydrator for Deer Jerky | Reviews 2023
The Excalibur 3926TCDB Electric Food Dehydrator Machine is a large-capacity dehydrator that is equipped with 9 easy-to-clean trays, providing 15 square feet of drying space. This dehydrator is perfect for drying a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, meat, and jerky.
One of the key features of this dehydrator is its accurate temperature control. It features a 26-hour timer and an adjustable thermostat with a range of 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is low enough for fruits and vegetables but high enough for dehydrating meat. This allows you to dehydrate your food at the perfect temperature to preserve nutrients and enzymes.
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The Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is a powerful and versatile food dehydrator that is perfect for preserving fruits, vegetables, and meats. The 600-watt unit is made with food-safe materials and features four trays, providing ample space for drying large quantities of food at once. This dehydrator is easy to use and features a simple digital control panel that allows you to set the temperature and drying time.
One of the main advantages of using this dehydrator is that it helps to preserve the nutritional value of food while also reducing waste. By removing the water content from fruits and vegetables, you can extend their shelf life without the need for preservatives or other chemical additives. Additionally, the dehydrator can be used to make healthy snacks such as dried fruit and vegetable chips.
The Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator is a versatile kitchen appliance that allows you to dry a wide range of foods, from fruits and vegetables to jerky and more. With its five stackable drying trays and powerful 500 watt heating element, this dehydrator can handle large batches of food at once.
One of the standout features of this dehydrator is its adjustable digital thermostat, which lets you set the drying temperature between 100-160° F. This allows you to customize the drying process to suit the specific needs of the food you're drying, ensuring that it comes out perfectly every time. Additionally, the dehydrator also has a 48 hour timer with auto shutoff, so you can set it and forget it without worrying about overcooking.
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The NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator is a powerful and versatile machine designed for drying snacks, fruits, and beef jerky. With 600 watts of drying power, this dehydrator provides even heat distribution and consistent drying that is four times faster than other food dehydrators. This means that you can dry large quantities at once with no tray rotation needed.
The adjustable temperature control (95°F -160°F) gives you the flexibility to achieve the best results when drying different foods that need varying temperature settings. The dehydrator comes with five (13 1/2" diameter) trays and expands up to 12 trays, so you can dry large quantities at once with no tray rotation needed. Additional trays can be purchased separately.
The Excalibur 3926TB Electric Food Dehydrator Machine is a large capacity food dehydrator that is equipped with 9 trays, providing 15 square feet of drying space. This makes it perfect for large families or those who like to dehydrate food in bulk. It features a 26-hour timer and an adjustable thermostat, with a range of 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is low enough for fruits and vegetables, but high enough for dehydrating meat, making it a versatile option for a variety of foods.
One of the unique features of this dehydrator is its ability to preserve nutrients and enzymes by cooking at no higher than 115-118 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it the perfect dehydrator for food and jerky, as well as dried fruit leather, fruit roll-up puree, all-natural pet treats, homemade yogurt, veggies, nuts or to even raise bread, which ensures that the food is healthy and nutritious.
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The NESCO FD-1040 Gardenmaster Digital Pro dehydrator is an excellent kitchen appliance for preparing a variety of dried snacks and jerky. With 1000 watts of drying power, this dehydrator provides even heat distribution for consistent drying. The adjustable thermostat allows you to dry different foods at the proper time and temperature, with a range from 90°F to 160°F. You can easily keep track of the drying process with the digital display and timer.
The dehydrator comes with 4 BPA-free trays, each with 1 sq. ft. of drying area, so you can dry large quantities at once without needing to rotate the trays. The dehydrator is also expandable up to 20 trays, with additional trays sold separately. This allows you to dry a wide variety of foods all at once, saving you time and energy.
The L'EQUIP 528 6 Tray Food Dehydrator is a powerful and versatile kitchen appliance that allows you to dry a wide variety of foods with ease. This dehydrator features a solid state variable temperature control that can be adjusted between 95-158 degrees, providing you with the ability to customize the drying process to suit the specific needs of different types of food.
One of the standout features of this dehydrator is its "Centra Flow" air design, which ensures consistent distribution of heat throughout the drying process. This ensures that your food dries evenly, without any hot spots or under-dried areas. The dehydrator also stackable up to 12 trays deep, and comes with 6 trays that provide 1.2 square feet of drying surface per tray, which allows you to dry large quantities of food at once.
The Aroma Housewares AFD-815B is a professional grade food dehydrator that offers a variety of options for dehydrating food. With 6 large trays, you can dehydrate anything from meat to fruits, nuts, and herbs. This means you can create fun and unique snacks for yourself and your family.
One of the key benefits of this dehydrator is its large capacity. With 6 large trays, you can make larger batches of jerky and banana crisps, allowing you to enjoy more in less time. Additionally, dehydrating foods is a healthy alternative, as it unlocks many benefits that other cooking methods don't offer.
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The Cuisinart DHR-20P1 Food Dehydrator is a high-quality appliance designed for exceptional performance. It features a large 552-square inch dehydrating surface area, making it ideal for dehydrating a wide variety of foods. The unit is powered by a powerful 620-watt motor and comes equipped with an adjustable thermostat, allowing you to set the temperature to your desired level. The top venting system ensures that heat is distributed evenly across the racks, resulting in perfectly dehydrated food every time.
The Cuisinart DHR-20P1 comes with five stackable, interlocking racks that can be configured in a variety of ways to accommodate different types of food. Additionally, it includes a fruit roll-up sheet that can be used to make your own dried fruit snacks. This dehydrator is perfect for making beef jerky, dried fruits, and herbs, giving you the ability to create healthy and delicious snacks at home.
How To Choose The Best Dehydrator for Deer Jerky | Ultimate Guide 2023
The capacity of the dehydrator and the number of trays are important. Dehydration is time consuming, so try to do it in one session.
If you are making jerky in small quantities, the size of the dehydrator is not essential.
However, if you are planning to make large quantities, you don't want to spend days filling and refilling the machine with water.
The temperature range is important; you don't want the dehydrator to get too hot. Dehydrators work best when heated at low temperatures. Meat, which requires higher internal temperatures to kill parasites and bacteria, should be heated as high as 165°F to ensure food safety.
Materials and Ease of Cleaning
If using a dishwasher to clean trays and drip pans, make sure the dimensions match the dishwasher's capacity. Often large dewatering trays get in the way in the sink and will not fit in a home dishwasher.
Dehydrators come in square, round, cylindrical, and rectangular shapes. However, meat cut into rectangular shapes does not fit well on round trays. Consider the food you want to dry and how it fits to maximize space in use. Shape is also a key factor in storage, as some appliances do not fit in cupboards.
Timers and digital temperature controls
Dewatering is an exact science, and temperature control is essential for the end product. It is important to ensure consistent and accurate heat. While a dial system can get you close to the temperature, a digital system is more accurate. A timer allows you to set the dehydrator to work over time.
Directions for Use
The frequency and duration of dehydrator use is an important factor in selecting the right model. For regular use, you need high-quality equipment that is equivalent to that of a commercial dehydrator.
If you make a lot of jerky, a higher output, a sturdy stainless steel tray, and a larger capacity are welcome.
However, if you do not intend to use the dehydrator frequently, a smaller, less expensive unit may be the best choice.
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Best Dehydrator for Deer Jerky | Video Explanation
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to prep foods before dehydrating them?
Drying fruits and vegetables require some sort of preprocessing, but to make jerky, nothing special needs to be done to the meat, except for general prep such as slicing and marinating.
How do you determine if the food is dry?
It is important to remove the jerky at the right time to avoid overcooking it; it is best to check every hour or so. If possible, peek through the window and visually check it early in the process. After a few hours, remove a piece of jerky and test it. Fold it. If it bends or cracks but does not split in half, it is done.
Does dehydration destroy food nutrients?
In the case of fruits and vegetables, pre-treatment before dehydration is often recommended because some minerals, vitamins, and enzymes are lost when dehydrated. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that any type of food preservation will result in some form of nutrient loss. For example, canned foods are exposed to very high temperatures, and freezing damages cells by expanding the water in the food. Nutritional loss due to dehydration is actually about 5%, 80% in canned foods, and 60% in frozen foods.
What types of meat can be dehydrated?
As mentioned above, almost any lean meat can be used to make jerky. Beef, deer, and elk are some examples, but more exotic meats such as alligator, deer, turkey, snake, and buffalo can also be used. Some types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout, are also suitable for jerky.
How long does it take to make jerky?
This depends on the meat. If the meat is prepared thin enough and the food dehydrator is in good shape, 4 or 5 hours can be sufficient. If thicker cuts are used, it can take up to 15 hours.
How does a dehydrator work and what are the benefits of owning one?
There are several key components in any dehydrator, although some elements vary from model to model. These all depend on the fan, heating elements, vents, and food trays.
The heater, fan, and vents work together to circulate air that is maintained at the proper temperature to the food on the tray. The combination of heat and air circulation releases moisture from the food, which is carried by the fan into the air and out through the vents. The remaining moisture is collected in a drip tray, usually located at the bottom of the machine. Depending on the position of the fan, air can move either horizontally or vertically.
Can jerky be dehydrated for too long?
Yes, beef dried too long will have a brittle texture and concentrated saltiness. Jerky should be dried until it is still soft but firm. Remember that jerky continues to dry after it is removed from the dehydrator. So take it out while it is still soft.
What is the best meat for jerky?
Hind leg rounds make the best jerky. Long-grain thigh meat has no streaks and dries evenly and consistently for jerky. If you do not have a whole roast, grind any meat to make extruded jerky. Whole muscle and extruded jerky vary in firmness, but are great options when you want jerkier or use more pieces of meat.
At what temperature should I dehydrate my jerky?
For jerky to be safe, the dehydrator temperature must reach at least 145°F. Lower temperatures may allow bacteria to grow. Proper heat and air circulation will ensure that the jerky dries evenly, consistently, and safely.
What is the best dehydrator temp for deer jerky?
The recommended dehydrator temperature for deer jerky is between 145°F and 160°F (63°C to 71°C). This temperature range is high enough to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present in the meat while also allowing the jerky to dry out properly.
It is important to note that the drying time will vary depending on the thickness of the jerky slices, the humidity in the air, and the dehydrator's model. It is crucial to follow a reliable recipe and check the jerky frequently during the drying process to ensure that it is not overcooked or undercooked.
Also, make sure to properly prepare the meat beforehand by trimming away any excess fat and slicing it thinly and uniformly. This will ensure that the jerky dries evenly and has a consistent texture.
How long does deer jerky take in the dehydrator?
The drying time for deer jerky in a dehydrator will depend on various factors, including the thickness of the meat slices, the humidity level, and the dehydrator's model. However, a general guideline for deer jerky is to dry it for around 4 to 8 hours.
It is important to check the jerky regularly during the drying process and remove any pieces that are already dry to prevent over-drying. To check if the jerky is ready, you can take a piece and try to bend it. If it bends and cracks but does not break, then it is done.
It is also important to follow a reliable recipe that provides specific instructions for drying time and temperature based on your dehydrator model and the thickness of your jerky slices. This will ensure that your deer jerky is safe to eat and has the desired texture and flavor.
What is the best dehydrator for beef jerky?
There are many dehydrators available on the market, and the best one for beef jerky will depend on your specific needs and preferences. However, some factors to consider when choosing a dehydrator for beef jerky include:
- Temperature Control: A dehydrator with temperature control is essential for making beef jerky as it allows you to set the temperature to the recommended range of 145°F to 160°F (63°C to 71°C).
- Drying Space: Make sure the dehydrator has enough drying space for your beef jerky needs. If you plan to make large batches of jerky, a dehydrator with multiple trays or expandable racks may be more suitable.
- Airflow: A good dehydrator for beef jerky should have adequate airflow to ensure even drying and prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Easy to Clean: Beef jerky can leave behind a sticky residue, so choose a dehydrator that is easy to clean, with removable trays and a drip tray to collect any drippings.
Some of the top-rated dehydrators for beef jerky include:
- Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
- Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
- Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator
- Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
- Cosori Premium Food Dehydrator
Ultimately, the best dehydrator for beef jerky will depend on your specific needs, budget, and personal preferences.
Is a dehydrator worth it for jerky?
Yes, a dehydrator is definitely worth it for making jerky. A dehydrator is an excellent tool for making beef jerky as it allows you to dry out the meat at a low temperature, which helps to preserve the flavor and nutrients while eliminating the moisture that can lead to spoilage.
While it is possible to make jerky in an oven or on a smoker, a dehydrator is more convenient and efficient. A dehydrator is specifically designed for this purpose, with temperature control, proper airflow, and multiple trays that allow you to make large batches of jerky at once.
Additionally, a dehydrator is a more cost-effective option in the long run compared to buying pre-made jerky or other types of snacks. Making your own jerky allows you to control the ingredients, adjust the flavor to your liking, and save money on buying pre-packaged jerky.
Overall, if you enjoy beef jerky and plan to make it frequently, investing in a dehydrator is a great choice that will pay off in the long run.
Can you overcook jerky in a dehydrator?
Yes, it is possible to overcook jerky in a dehydrator, which can result in a tough and dry texture that is difficult to chew. Overcooking can also cause the jerky to lose flavor and become unappetizing.
To avoid overcooking your jerky, it is important to follow a reliable recipe that provides specific instructions for drying time and temperature based on your dehydrator model and the thickness of your jerky slices. It is also recommended to check the jerky regularly during the drying process and remove any pieces that are already dry to prevent over-drying.
To check if the jerky is ready, you can take a piece and try to bend it. If it bends and cracks but does not break, then it is done. If it snaps in half, then it is overcooked.
It is also important to properly prepare the meat beforehand by trimming away any excess fat and slicing it thinly and uniformly. This will ensure that the jerky dries evenly and has a consistent texture.
Can I dehydrate jerky for 12 hours?
Drying time for jerky can vary depending on the thickness of the slices, the humidity level, and the dehydrator's model. However, 12 hours is longer than necessary for most jerky recipes and can result in over-drying the meat.
The recommended drying time for jerky in a dehydrator is usually between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the factors mentioned above. It is important to check the jerky regularly during the drying process and remove any pieces that are already dry to prevent over-drying.
If you are unsure about the drying time for your jerky, it is always best to follow a reliable recipe that provides specific instructions for drying time and temperature based on your dehydrator model and the thickness of your jerky slices. This will ensure that your jerky has the desired texture and flavor without being over-dried or under-dried.
At what temp is deer jerky done?
Deer jerky is considered done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) to ensure that it is safe to eat and free of harmful bacteria. It is important to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest pieces of jerky to make sure they are fully cooked.
When dehydrating deer jerky, it is recommended to set the dehydrator's temperature to 145°F to 160°F (63°C to 71°C), which is the temperature range that is safe for drying meat and will help to preserve the flavor and nutrients.
Keep in mind that the drying time for deer jerky can vary depending on the thickness of the slices, the humidity level, and the dehydrator's model. It is important to check the jerky regularly during the drying process and remove any pieces that are already dry to prevent over-drying or under-drying.
How long will dehydrated deer meat last?
Dehydrated deer meat, or deer jerky, can last for several months when stored properly. The exact length of time depends on various factors, such as the storage conditions, the fat content of the meat, and the level of moisture in the jerky.
In general, properly dried and stored deer jerky can last for 1 to 2 months at room temperature, up to 6 months in the refrigerator, and up to 1 year in the freezer. To ensure the longest shelf life, it is important to store the jerky in an airtight container or bag, away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture.
It is also recommended to label the container or bag with the date of preparation and to periodically check the jerky for any signs of spoilage, such as mold, off odor, or changes in texture or color. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the jerky to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.
Do you cook deer meat before dehydrating it?
Deer meat should be cooked or partially cooked before dehydrating to ensure that it is safe to eat and free of harmful bacteria. This process, known as "pre-cooking," involves cooking the meat in boiling water or in a preheated oven to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) before dehydrating it.
Pre-cooking helps to kill any bacteria or parasites that may be present in the meat and reduces the risk of foodborne illness. It also helps to speed up the dehydration process by reducing the moisture content of the meat.
After pre-cooking, the deer meat can be sliced into thin strips and dehydrated in a dehydrator or oven to make jerky. It is important to follow a reliable recipe and to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat during pre-cooking and dehydration to ensure that it is fully cooked and safe to eat.
What wattage is best for dehydrators?
The wattage of a dehydrator can vary depending on the model and brand. In general, a higher-wattage dehydrator will typically provide faster and more efficient drying compared to a lower-wattage dehydrator.
A wattage range of 400 to 600 watts is generally sufficient for most home dehydrating needs, including making beef or deer jerky. However, if you plan to dehydrate large batches of food or thicker cuts of meat, a higher-wattage dehydrator may be more suitable.
Keep in mind that the wattage of the dehydrator is just one factor to consider when choosing a dehydrator. Other important factors include the number of trays, the size and shape of the trays, the temperature range, and the overall durability and ease of use. It is important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a dehydrator to ensure that it meets your requirements and budget.
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Before purchasing the Best Dehydrator for Deer Jerky, consider how often you will use it. All units are designed for slow drying, but higher power is beneficial for constant use. If you plan to use a dehumidifier monthly, you may want to choose a more powerful or commercial dehumidifier. For seasonal or occasional use, you can consider cost-effectiveness and storage when not in use. Cleaning is also not to be overlooked. Pay attention to the size of the trays and make sure they are dishwasher-safe.
Hi, I’m Jennifer Lawrence, Went to Calhoun High School (Georgia) my goal is to make the kitchen fun by providing a mathematical and logical component to our approach to cooking good food. I look not only at delicious recipes but also at kitchen tools and gadgets to give you the tips and tricks we hope you will find useful. Read More Here