Bacon is a beloved food around the world, and for good reason. Its salty, savory flavor is hard to resist. But have you ever wondered if there’s a way to make it last longer?
Enter: dehydrating bacon. Yes, it’s possible to turn your favorite breakfast food into a shelf-stable snack that you can enjoy anytime, anywhere.
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of dehydrating bacon, including why it’s important to cook it first, different methods for drying it out, and tips for getting the perfect texture.
So grab a slice of bacon (or two) and let’s get started!
How To Dehydrate Bacon?
Before we dive into the specifics of dehydrating bacon, it’s important to address a common question: should you dehydrate raw bacon or cook it first? The answer is simple: cook it first.
When you dehydrate uncooked meat, pathogenic bacteria can survive the lower temperatures of a dehydrator. To ensure that your bacon jerky is safe and healthy, it’s best to cook the bacon first.
To prepare your bacon for dehydration, start by cooking the slices in a skillet until they’re crisp and cooked through. Drain the bacon well on paper towels to remove any excess fat.
Next, you’ll need to choose a method for dehydrating your bacon. There are several options available, including using an air-dryer, microwave, or dehydrator. Whichever method you choose, the end result will be the same: a dry, shelf-stable snack that can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in other dishes.
If you’re using a dehydrator, place the bacon strips in the drying tray and put the tray into the machine. Cover it and turn the power on. Allow the bacon to dehydrate for about six to eight hours, or until it crumbles easily.
During the drying process, it’s important to remove the bacon from the trays and wipe it with paper towels to remove as much fat as possible. This will help prevent rancidity and ensure that your bacon jerky has a longer shelf life.
Why Cook Bacon Before Dehydrating?
Cooking your bacon before dehydrating it is crucial for food safety. Bacon contains numerous bacteria and parasites that may survive the low temperature of a dehydrator. These harmful microorganisms can cause foodborne illnesses, which can be dangerous or even deadly.
By cooking your bacon before dehydrating it, you eliminate these pathogens and make your bacon jerky safe to eat. Cooking also helps remove excess fat, which can become rancid during the dehydration process. This ensures that your bacon jerky has a longer shelf life and maintains its quality for longer periods.
Different Methods For Dehydrating Bacon
There are several methods you can use to dehydrate bacon, depending on your preferences and equipment. Here are three different methods you can try:
1. Dehydrator: Using a dehydrator is a popular and effective way to dehydrate bacon. After cooking and draining the bacon, place the strips in a single layer on the drying tray of the dehydrator. Turn the power on and let it run for six to eight hours, or until the bacon crumbles easily. Remember to remove the bacon from the trays and wipe it with paper towels to remove excess fat during the drying process.
2. Oven: If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven to dehydrate bacon. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting (usually around 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit). After cooking and draining the bacon, place the strips in a single layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven and leave it there for several hours, or until the bacon is fully dehydrated.
3. Air-drying: If you prefer a more traditional method, you can air-dry your bacon. After cooking and draining the bacon, hang it in a well-ventilated area using twine or toothpicks. Make sure to space out the strips so they don’t touch each other. Leave them to air-dry for several days until they’re fully dehydrated. This method takes longer than using a dehydrator or oven, but some people prefer the taste and texture of air-dried bacon.
No matter which method you choose, make sure to store your dried bacon in an airtight container or bag to keep it fresh. Dehydrated bacon can be enjoyed as a snack on its own, crumbled over salads or soups, or used as a flavorful ingredient in recipes.
Tips For Getting The Perfect Texture
Getting the perfect texture for your bacon jerky can take a bit of trial and error, but there are a few tips that can help you achieve the desired result.
Firstly, it’s important to know when the bacon jerky is done. One way to tell is by being aware of the physical indicators, such as color. As soon as you notice a change in color, it means your jerky is done. Alternatively, if you want it to be a little crispier, leave it in the dehydrator for an additional 2-3 hours.
Secondly, ensure that the drying temperature is consistent throughout the process. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature and make adjustments if necessary. This will help ensure that the bacon jerky dries evenly and has a consistent texture.
If you’re using an oven or dehydrator, consider using a wire rack to allow air circulation around the bacon strips. This will help them dry more evenly and prevent any sticking.
Finally, be sure to remove any excess fat from the bacon before dehydrating it. Fat that remains on the meat during dehydration may become rancid and spoil the flavor of your bacon jerky. So, drain the bacon well on paper towels before placing it in the dehydrator or oven.
By following these tips, you can achieve perfectly textured bacon jerky every time. Happy dehydrating!
Storing Dehydrated Bacon
Once your bacon is properly dehydrated, it’s important to store it correctly to ensure that it remains safe to eat and retains its flavor. The way dehydrated bacon is stored has a large impact on its shelf life.
To store your dehydrated bacon, you should place it in an airtight container. If the container is properly sealed, the bacon can last for a period of one to two years. It’s important to choose a container that is the right size for the amount of bacon you’re storing, as air pockets can cause the bacon to spoil more quickly.
When storing your bacon, keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to heat and light can cause the bacon to spoil more quickly. It’s also important to check the container regularly for signs of moisture or mold, and to discard any bacon that appears to be spoiled.
It’s worth noting that dehydrated cooked bacon will shrink in size during the dehydration process. To minimize shrinkage, choose high-quality bacon with a low water content. Additionally, be sure to soak up any excess grease using paper towels before dehydrating your bacon.
When you’re ready to use your dehydrated bacon, simply rehydrate it by soaking it in warm water for a few minutes. Once rehydrated, store the bacon in a perfectly sealed plastic container until you’re ready to use it again.
Creative Ways To Use Dehydrated Bacon
Dehydrated bacon is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Here are some creative ways to use dehydrated bacon:
1. Bacon Bits: Crush up your dehydrated bacon and use it as a topping for salads, baked potatoes, or soups. This is a great way to add a smoky, savory flavor to any dish.
2. Bacon Salt: Grind up your dehydrated bacon in a food processor with some salt and use it as a seasoning for meat, vegetables, or popcorn. This is a great way to add a salty, smoky flavor to your favorite foods.
3. Bacon Jerky: Cut your dehydrated bacon into thin strips and enjoy it as a high-protein snack on the go. This is a great alternative to traditional beef jerky and is perfect for camping trips or hiking.
4. Bacon Powder: Grind up your dehydrated bacon in a food processor until it becomes a fine powder. Use this powder as a seasoning for eggs, popcorn, or roasted vegetables. This is a great way to add a smoky, bacon flavor to any dish without the added fat.
5. Bacon Dip: Mix your dehydrated bacon with cream cheese, sour cream, and chives to create a delicious dip that’s perfect for parties or game day. Serve with crackers or vegetables for a tasty snack that everyone will love.