Beef jerky is a delicious and convenient snack that can be enjoyed on-the-go or stored for later use. But what if you want to extend its shelf life even further?
Can you freeze dry beef jerky?
The answer is yes, but there are some important things to consider before doing so.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of freezing beef jerky, as well as the process of freeze-drying it.
Whether you’re a fan of traditional beef jerky or looking for a new way to preserve your favorite snack, read on to learn more about freeze-drying beef jerky.
Can You Freeze Dry Beef Jerky?
Freezing beef jerky is a common method of extending its shelf life. If stored in an airtight package, frozen beef jerky can last an additional 6-12 months beyond its normal storage life of up to a year. However, freezing beef jerky can diminish its sensory qualities such as taste, texture, and freshness.
Freeze-drying beef jerky is another option for preserving it. While freeze-dried jerky won’t have the same texture as traditionally made jerky, it is far more versatile as it can be rehydrated or eaten as-is and stores well.
To make freeze-dried jerky, the meat is first frozen and then placed in a freeze dryer. The freeze dryer removes moisture from the meat, leaving it dry and lightweight. The resulting jerky will have a dry and crispy texture, with a more intense flavor compared to traditionally made jerky.
While freeze-drying beef jerky is possible, success will depend on the type of jerky and its ingredients. It’s important to keep in mind that the texture of freeze-dried jerky will be different from traditional jerky, and it may take some getting used to.
The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Freezing Beef Jerky
Freezing beef jerky can be a convenient way to extend its shelf life. However, there are both benefits and drawbacks to this method. One of the main benefits is that frozen beef jerky can last an additional 6-12 months beyond its normal storage life of up to a year. This makes it a great option for those who want to stock up on jerky or have it on hand for emergencies.
Another benefit of freezing beef jerky is that it can help to preserve its nutritional value. Beef jerky is a good source of protein and high in many vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and folate. Freezing beef jerky can help to prevent the loss of these important nutrients.
However, there are also some drawbacks to freezing beef jerky. Freezing can diminish the sensory qualities of the jerky such as taste, texture, and freshness. The freezing process can cause the meat to become tough and dry, which can make it less enjoyable to eat. Additionally, the freezing process can cause changes in the color and appearance of the jerky.
Another potential drawback of freezing beef jerky is that it may not be suitable for all types of jerky. The texture and ingredients of some types of jerky may not hold up well to freezing, which can result in a less than desirable product.
How To Properly Freeze Beef Jerky
If you choose to freeze your beef jerky, it’s important to do it properly to maintain its quality. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Vacuum-sealed packages of beef jerky can be put in the freezer as-is. However, if you have an opened bag or a bag filled with air, it’s best to transfer the jerky to an airtight container to prevent freezer burn.
2. Label the container with the date that the beef jerky went into the freezer. This way, you can keep track of how long it has been stored and ensure that you consume it within a reasonable timeframe.
3. Make sure that the airtight container is lined with foil or baking paper before placing the beef jerky inside. This will protect it from freezer burn and prevent any unwanted flavors from seeping into the meat.
4. Seal the container tightly and place it in the freezer. The ideal temperature for freezing beef jerky is below 0°F (-18°C).
5. When you’re ready to eat the frozen beef jerky, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before consuming. Alternatively, you can microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your frozen beef jerky stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
The Process Of Freeze-Drying Beef Jerky
The process of freeze-drying beef jerky is relatively simple. The first step is to pre-freeze the meat. This can be done by placing the meat in a freezer for 3 hours or overnight, depending on the strength of the freezer. Pre-freezing the meat helps to shorten the freeze-drying time and results in a better quality end product.
Once the meat is pre-frozen, it is placed on freeze-dryer trays lined with parchment paper. The trays are then placed in the freeze dryer, which removes moisture from the meat over a period of hours. The length of time required will depend on the type of jerky and its ingredients.
After the freeze-drying process is complete, the beef jerky will have a dry and crispy texture. It can be eaten as-is or rehydrated by soaking it in water for a few minutes. Rehydrated jerky will have a texture similar to traditionally made jerky.
It’s important to note that not all types of beef jerky are suitable for freeze-drying. Fattier pieces of meat or jerky that have been exposed to too much water may go rancid faster than leaner cuts that are stored at a cool, dry temperature. Additionally, success with freeze-drying will depend on proper storage practices and the quality of the meat used.
Tips For Storing Freeze-Dried Beef Jerky
Proper storage is critical for maintaining the quality and longevity of freeze-dried beef jerky. Here are some tips to help you store your freeze-dried beef jerky properly:
1. Use airtight containers: When storing freeze-dried beef jerky, it’s important to use airtight containers, such as ziplock bags or vacuum-sealed bags. This will help prevent moisture from getting in and keep the jerky fresh.
2. Store in a cool, dry place: Freeze-dried beef jerky should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. A pantry or cupboard is an ideal location.
3. Avoid exposure to air: Exposure to air can cause freeze-dried beef jerky to become stale and lose its flavor. To avoid this, make sure the container is sealed tightly after each use.
4. Consider using oxygen absorbers: Oxygen absorbers can help prolong the shelf life of freeze-dried beef jerky by removing any remaining oxygen in the container. These can be purchased online or at specialty stores.
5. Label and date the container: It’s important to label and date the container of freeze-dried beef jerky so you know when it was stored and how long it has been stored for.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your freeze-dried beef jerky stays fresh and tasty for longer.
How To Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Beef Jerky
Rehydrating freeze-dried beef jerky is a simple process that can restore the meat to its original texture and flavor. The first step is to place the freeze-dried jerky in a bowl of warm or hot water. Don’t worry about over-hydrating the jerky, as it will only reabsorb the necessary liquid and will not become soggy.
If you’re looking to add some extra flavor to your rehydrated jerky, you can use heated broth or even tomato sauce if you’re rehydrating cooked ground beef. For other types of jerky like sloppy joe mix or BBQ chicken, simply add about 1/3 hot water to the freeze-dried meat.
Once the jerky has been rehydrated, pat it dry with a paper towel before using it in your favorite recipes or eating it as-is. Keep in mind that rehydrated jerky may not have the same texture as traditionally made jerky, but it will still be delicious and flavorful.
It’s important to note that if you’re consuming freeze-dried meats or jerkies, you’ll need to drink plenty of water as they can be dehydrating. Rehydrated jerky is a great addition to meals and snacks for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts as it provides a fulfilling meaty flavor without the need for refrigeration.