You gotta love meat that you can eat anytime, anywhere. Fortunately, you do not have to pay the high price of store bought beef jerky brands. There are plenty of dehydrators out there to choose from, and you can make up your own delicious recipes to create from home.
In a hurry? I recommend the BioChef Sol Dehydrator.
The most popular variety is beef jerky, although it can be produced from any type of meat. The meat is cured with salts to prevent bacterial growth. The discovery that meat can be manipulated in a way that can be stored for a long time, easily carried, and is dense with nutrition, made it perfect for travelers on long journeys.
Why make it at home?
Walk into any supermarket, you can find dozens of brands, flavors and varieties of jerky. So why bother making it at home? First of all, and I’m sure this is not a big shocker, store bought brands can be full of chemicals, colors, and unnecessary sodium. Make your own organic jerky at home.
Also, making your own jerky, as with most do-it-yourself projects, is considerably more economical than buying it off of the rack. Be creative and find your own mouth-watering recipes. Who knows, maybe you can even sell it!
Why get a dehydrator?
You have an oven, why can’t you use that? Put it this way – it would basically be like lighting a cigarette with a blow torch. Just too much.
Jerky is a ‘raw food,’ which means that it is cooked at a temperature less than 117°F. The purpose of cooking at a low temperature is to conserve nutrients and dietary enzymes. Most ovens do not have a low enough setting for proper preparation. The dehydrator is designed for low-heat, has proper airflow for efficiently pulling moisture from the meat, and requires minimal supervision.
Things to consider
There are two main types of dehydrators: vertical flow (aka stackable unit) and horizontal flow (aka shelf tray food dehydrators). Vertical flow dehydrators are usually the more economic option but do not dehydrate as uniformly. While this is okay for fruits, vegetables, and nuts, the horizontal flow version is generally preferred for jerky. Just keep in mind the horizontal flow versions hit heavier in the pocket, and generally are quite large in size, requiring more counter and storage space.
There are a couple of other things to consider. One is the ease of use. A dehydrator that does not require switching around shelves means you can set it and forget it. The size and capacity, noise level and features (such as thermostat, timer, and auto shutoff) can vary from product to product.
Let’s take a look at some of the better dehydrators available, so you can start making your own jerky!
Oliver Smith Professional Series
The Oliver Smith Professional Series offers the 10 Tray Digital Food Dehydrator. This is an economical option to the shelf tray dehydrator. It has a digital timer and automatic shut off and is notably very quiet. It has 10 plastic trays and fifteen feet of drying space. Additionally, it is BPA free. Find it here at Amazon.
The Chefman Food Dehydrator is slightly more expensive and offers a more innovative design, which assists the airflow and ensures consistent drying throughout the trays. The trays are also plastic and BPA free. There is the option of 6 or 9 trays. This product also includes access to Club Chefman which has a variety of videos and recipe ideas. Sound good to you? Find it here.
The BioChef Sol Food Dehydrator 6 is a horizontal flow machine with easy to clean stainless steel drying trays. BioChef has a patented EPT (Enzyme Protection Technology) with the obvious benefit of preserving the nutritional benefits of the beef. For such a high quality machine, the price is comfortable. The product is complete with the digital timer and digital heat control and is available in black or white. See the BioChef listed here.
Crawford Kitchen offers the Commercial Food Dehydrator
Crawford Kitchen offers the Commercial Food Dehydrator, which is an entirely stainless steel horizontal flow machine. Like the BioChef, this product also offers a digital timer and digital heat control, but this machine has more capacity. There are more trays and the tray size is slightly larger. This is a very decent low-end option for a commercial use. Find it here at Amazon.
Beef, chicken, buffalo, kangaroo, dinosaur, the jerky possibilities are endless. Get your dehydrator and get inventive, in no time you will be making your favorite snack at home. Want more options? Find more of my favorite picks here.