People commonly use freeze-dryers to preserve snacks, meals, and even milk to cut their expenses and allow them to store the food for extended periods. But did you know that we can freeze dry meat and jerky?
Typically, thin slices of jerky take about 24 hours to freeze dry, though it could take longer depending on how thick the meat is. Cutting the meat thinly guarantees a shorter freeze-dryer load time, as does using meat that’s already properly made into jerky rather than raw.
Jerky is a fantastic protein snack for the family. Most people usually enjoy jerky on hikes or camping trips since it’s easy to store and ready to eat whenever we leave the house. Does this sound like a great option to try in your freeze-dryer? Well, then keep reading for more information about freeze-drying jerky at home.
How Long Does It Take to Freeze-Dry Jerky at Home?
It takes about 24 hours to freeze-dry jerky at home, depending on how thickly cut the meat is. Prepare the jerky beforehand. After the jerky is made, leave it to cool. Then remove any excess fats and grease before putting it into the freeze-dryer to keep the cycle as short as possible.
Some people only run their jerky in the freeze-dryer overnight, but go ahead and check on your freeze-dryer after several hours if all the moisture is gone. Once freeze-dried, the meat will slightly differ from traditional jerky.
The meat will be crispier and can turn into dust easily. However, this is freeze-dried jerky, and eating it is completely safe.
If someone likes this type of jerky or the chewier traditional type, they should try the freeze-dried version. The wonderful thing about this type of jerky is it requires less salt than conventional jerky.
If you prefer more traditional jerky (and if the freeze-dried jerky) is too dry, know that it can be rehydrated before eating. Want to know more about freeze-drying jerky? Read this article I wrote: Can You Make Jerky In a Freeze-Dryer?
How Long Does It Take to Freeze-Dry Meat in General?
Meat will generally finish freeze-drying in 24 hours; this depends on how thinly the meat has been sliced. The freeze-dryer should shut off by itself when the process is completed. Both raw and cooked meat can be freeze-dried. Remember to remove bones and fats before freeze-drying.
When cutting the meat, be sure to either cut it into thin slices or make it into cubes. If the meat is in cubes, be sure the cube height does not exceed the sides of the tray.
Then, spread the cut slices of meat on the tray with a ¼-inch space allowance between each piece.
If freeze-drying raw and cooked meat, be sure they are placed on separate trays to avoid cross-contamination. In addition, if the meat has bones, be sure to debone the meat before freeze-drying. Bones don’t freeze dry!
Does freeze-dried steak interest you? Read this article we wrote: Freeze-Dried Steak: the Complete Guide. Mmm. Steak. It’s delicious.
Which Jerky Tastes Best: Dehydrated, Freeze-Dried, or Frozen?
Everyone will have their own opinion on which jerky (dehydrated, freeze-dried, or frozen) tastes best. People should try all three types to find their preferences. I prefer dehydrated or freeze-dried best. I don’t like frozen jerky.
Dehydrated jerky notes and taste
Let’s look at dehydrated jerky first. If we’re looking for something like traditional jerky, dehydrating our jerky should be our go-to. Unlike the freeze-dryer, we don’t need to pre-cook the jerky before putting it in the dehydrator. After all, jerky is dehydrated meat. It gets cooked slowly over time to become jerky.
After we have cut the meat into our desired slices, all we need to do is marinate the meat, drain it, and then put it in the dehydrator. That’s all it takes to make traditional, chewy jerky in the comfort of our homes.
It’s chewy, flavorful, and delicious. Note that it will likely get stuck between your teeth.
Freeze-dried jerky notes and taste
Freeze-dried jerky is crispier, drier, and crumblier than traditional dehydrated jerky. It doesn’t taste much like traditional jerky. However, some people prefer it because it’s easier to snack on. It also melts in your mouth.
If we have a problem with how dry it is but prefer the taste, we can always rehydrate the jerky to help with the texture.
Freeze-dried jerky is also healthier. Unlike other marinades, we don’t need to put any additives into our freeze-dried jerky. So, if we’re watching our salt content but want jerky to snack on, freeze-dried jerky is a natural choice for a protein-based snack.
Frozen jerky notes and taste
Meanwhile, frozen jerky is usually made with store-bought jerky, though it can be done with homemade jerky, too. Store-bought jerky usually has a long shelf life.
However, once out of the pack, it will only last a few days. So, people have been sticking it in the freezer to extend its life. But it’ll taste like jerky before putting it in the freezer, provided it doesn’t get freezer-burned.
If you’re worried about freezer burn, go ahead and freeze-dry the jerky to make it last longer. Do you need more information on how to store and preserve jerky? Then, read this article I wrote: How Long Does Jerky Last? How to Make It Last Longer.
How Long It Takes to Make Jerky with Other Methods
Jerky can take anywhere from 30 seconds to several hours to days or weeks to be prepared, depending on the methods used. Jerky can be flash-frozen in seconds, while sun-dried jerky may take days or weeks.
Now that we know many other ways to enjoy an excellent jerky recipe, we can experiment with various preparation methods. Here’s how to prepare other types of jerkies using different methods:
How long does it take to freeze jerky?
Thin slices of jerky can freeze as quickly as 30 seconds, but some people like to keep it in the freezer overnight before taking it out for consumption. To freeze jerky, all we need is either store-bought jerky or homemade dehydrated jerky – and a freezer bag.
Put the jerky into a freezer bag and then freeze it. The packaging on the product will usually tell us if we can freeze the product. Products from The Jerky Co. also have information about freezing their jerky on their official website.
It’s not recommended to use raw meat and make jerky in the freezer, as it doesn’t completely cook the meat like the jerky process does when it uses heat.
How long does it take to dry jerky?
Dehydrators can make jerky in as little as 3 to 6 hours (usually 5 to 6). Drying jerky can also be done in an oven or under the sun. The jerky that comes from a dehydrator is the one most people know and love – it’s the chewy, traditional jerky that most people crave.
If you’re going to dry jerky under the sun, you’ll want to look at solar ovens or into traditional jerky recipes like pemmican. I know there are a few differences, but it’ll at least get you headed down the right road.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Freeze-dried jerky is a delicious, high-protein snack. It’s easy to pack and take camping, hiking, anywhere, or anytime we want a convenient snack.
In addition, freeze-drying jerky takes about 24 hours, and the process is much easier if the meat is cooked sliced thinly and all the grease and fat are removed beforehand.
Finally, now that we know all about the length of time required for freeze-drying jerky, we can move on to the fun part!
Are you interested in freeze-drying other meats and foods? Would you like more information about freeze-drying in general? Read these great guides:
- Can You Freeze-Dry Aged Beef?
- How to Freeze-Dry Meat for Safe Long-Term Storage
- Does Freeze-Drying Foods Kill It? (Bacteria, Virus, Nutrients, Enzymes)
- How to Safely Store Freeze-dried Foods in Mason Jars (vacuum sealer)
They’re all great resources that’ll help you become a better food storage enthusiast, no matter what emergency may come.
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “Beef Jerky Dehydrated vs Freeze Dried.” YouTube, 31 Mar. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRC2uAqxMjY.
- “Freeze-Dried Venison 🦌Deer Steak🦌 HARVEST RIGHT FREEZE DRYER.” YouTube, uploaded by Retired at 40- Live.Life.Simple, 9 May 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=noMFSW5lO_Q.
- Will. “How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator.” Jerkyholic, 1 Sept. 2021, www.jerkyholic.com/how-to-make-beef-jerky-with-a-dehydrator.