How To: You can dehydrate ground beef, but there’s a trick

Spread beef on dehydrator tray

Spend a day or two lugging a 30 lb. backpack around and you’ll be wishing you had something more filling than ramen or mac and cheese by supper time.

One thing I love to bring in the backcountry with me is dehydrated ground beef. You can prep it at home with a dehydrator in under 7 hours and it makes a hearty addition to any starch.

The challenge is prepping it properly, so it’s not crunchy when you hydrate it. Crunchy ground beef can be remedied with bread crumbs and I’ll walk you through the steps below.

Step 1- Where’s the Beef?

You have to start with a lean ground beef. Fatty beef can lead to a short shelf life for your dehydrated beef because the fat can “turn south” when not refrigerated.  I’d recommend using the leanest beef you can find, which is usually 93%/7% or 90%/10%.

Step 2- The Trick!

Add breadcrumbs to your beef. The breadcrumbs help absorb moisture during the rehydration process. I use 1/2 cup for every lb. of beef.

Step 3- Color equals flavor

Dehydrated Ground Beef Recipe
Brown the meat cooking out the pink color
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As Gordon Ramsey always says, “Color equals flavor!” That color is going to come from a hot pan. Heat up your pan (I like cast iron) and brown your meat cooking it thoroughly, but not drying it out.  If you’d like, you can season the meat with your favorite all-purpose seasoning just before browning.

Step 4- Degrease

Remember, the fat can make the dehydrated beef go rancid quicker, so you want you make sure to remove as much as you can.  First empty the beef into a strainer/colander, then blot between paper towels, as pictured.

Step 5 –  The Shrivel

Place the cooked ground beef on the tray of your dehydrator and set to 145 degrees. It needs to dehydrate for about 6 hours.

During the dehydrating process, you’ll want to blot off some of the excess oil every few hours.

Need a dehydrator recommendation?

Step 6 – Bag of Beef

I like to store my dehydrated beef in a vacuum sealed bag. It makes it compact and keeps moisture out.  But don’t rush out and buy a Vacuum Sealing System . Plastic bags can get the job done.

If properly prepared, the beef should last without refrigeration for several months. However, I would not use it after a year though.

Step 7 – Resuscitate

When it’s time to bring your beef back to life, simply place the dry beef in simmering or boiling water on your gas stove.  Once hydrated, mix with your favorite starch. Mac and cheese, dehydrated potatoes, or rice are all great and lightweight options.

Here’s my How-To video on rehydrating the beef.

Perfect for the backcountry!

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has a decade and a half of experience working in a fast-paced newsroom. He’s worked as a journalist, weather chief, and news director.

He was on air during major weather and news events, including Hurricane Katrina, and the EF-4 tornados that struck the city of Hattiesburg in 2013.

Ortego is a two-time 1st place recipient in Investigative Journalism from The Mississippi Associated Press and a five-time recipient of Best Weather Broadcast.