Safely Dehydrating Ground Meats


Ground Meat Rocks or Crumbles are Easy to Make


Before Beginning:

  • Buy meat that is at least 85% lean. This gives you a good starting point, as well as an easier process to be assured you can remove as much fat as possible without compromising taste. Fat spoils quickly, and the lower the fat content the longer your dehydrated meat will last without getting rancid.
  • To make ground meat to dehydrate, you must cook the meat thoroughly BEFORE dehydrating to have a safe food product.
  • Make sure all work surfaces and equipment are cleaned and sterilized thoroughly.

Preparing Ground Meat

  1. Marinate or season the meat as you wish. Refrigerate for two hours to overnight.
  2. Break hamburger up into a large skillet. Small crumbles—about the size of a pea to the size of a small marshmallow—will work best.
  3. If cooking ground poultry, add a bit of water to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Cook the ground beef until thoroughly browned throughout. (You can also pressure cook.) Do not allow it to burn or char.
  5. If the meat starts to dry out during the cooking process, add a bit of water to the pan. DO NOT add oils.
  6. Remove the meat to a colander in the sink, draining off any fat. Use a slotted spoon to move the meat to the colander as a help.
  7. Rinse the meat in the colander under running hot water for a few minutes or until you can feel with your hands that the meat is free of oils. The meat should no longer leave an oily film on your hands
  8. Blot the meat with a paper towels until completely dry. Place the ground beef on mesh-lined trays in a single layer. Make sure the meat has plenty of room to help airflow.

Dehydrating Ground Meat

  1. Preheat your dehydrator at a temperature of 160°F/70°C (30 minutes should do it). Load up the trays when the dehydrator is preheated.
  2. Monitor the meat every 30 minutes. Turn and flip the crumbles occasionally. Dehydrated meat should be dry, but not flaky or brittle.
  3. Note: Inspect the meat crumbles for any glistening puddles which mean there is still fat on the meat. If this is the case, blot with paper towels to remove the oils from the meat. Refrigerate/freeze the meat when finished drying for safety. Do not vacuum seal meat with visible oils.
  4. Allow the meat to cool completely. Store and package the ground meat crumbles in an airtight container.
  5. Consume your unrefrigerated dehydrated ground meat within 2 weeks of the drying process to make sure it is free of bacteria. Vacuum sealing dehydrated ground meat will extend the shelf life up to 1 month.
  6. Refrigerate (up to 1 month) or freeze (up to 6 months) the dehydrated ground meat to extend the storage life.

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NOTE: Chef Glen, the Backpacking Chef, advocates adding bread crumbs to the meat. Many claim this helps facilitate faster rehydration. I have not attempted this method because I feel the breadcrumbs, when cooking, soaks up the fats from the meat and is more difficult to remove with rinsing. His method is to add 1/2 cup of finely ground bread crumbs over the meat. Work the bread crumbs into the raw meat with your fingers. I have not, myself, tested this method.


Faux Sausage Crumbles

To fake out your turkey or chicken crumbles and produce faux “sausage crumbles”, you can flavor ground turkey or chicken before you cook it, allowing it to marinate with the seasoning mix. This produces a low-fat tasty version of “sausage crumbles”.

Italian Sausage Seasoning

Makes enough for 3 pounds ground turkey or chicken

Ingredients
3 pounds ground turkey or chicken
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1-1/4 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

  1. Place the ground turkey or chicken and red wine vinegar in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, paprika, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, brown sugar, oregano, and thyme.
  2. Knead lightly until flecks of spice are evenly distributed through the meat.
  3. Place ground turkey or chicken mixture into a freezer bag and marinate in refrigerator for at least 12 hours before cooking.

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Breakfast Sausage Seasoning

Makes enough for 3 pounds ground turkey or chicken

Ingredients
3 pounds ground turkey or chicken
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (Italian seasoning can be substituted if desired)

Directions

  1. Place the ground turkey or chicken in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sage, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and marjoram.
  2. Knead lightly until flecks of spice are evenly distributed through the meat.
  3. Place ground turkey or chicken mixture into a freezer bag and marinate in refrigerator for at least 12 hours before cooking.

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