Are you looking for a new way to enjoy ham?
Have you ever considered dehydrating it?
Dehydrating meat is a great way to preserve it and make it more portable for on-the-go snacking or backpacking trips.
But can you dehydrate ham?
The answer is yes!
In this article, we’ll explore the process of dehydrating ham and provide tips for achieving the best results.
From slicing the ham to choosing the right temperature, we’ve got you covered.
So, let’s dive in and learn how to dehydrate ham!
Can You Dehydrate Ham?
Yes, you can dehydrate ham! In fact, dehydrating ham is a great way to preserve it and make it more portable for on-the-go snacking or backpacking trips.
When dehydrating ham, it’s important to slice it thinly and evenly. This will ensure that the ham dries properly and evenly. A sharp cutting knife is essential for this process, as well as a protected cutting board to avoid any accidents.
It’s also important to partially freeze the ham before slicing it. This will make it easier to slice thinly and evenly. Once sliced, place the ham strips on dehydrator trays and dry them at a temperature between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, if you want to ensure that the ham dries all the way through, it’s best to dehydrate at a lower temperature, around 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This will take longer, but it will prevent the ham from being only partly dehydrated.
If any oil droplets form on the outside of the meat while dehydrating, blot them off with a paper towel 2-3 times while drying. This will help to remove excess oil and prevent spoilage.
Why Dehydrate Ham?
Dehydrating ham is a great way to extend its shelf life and make it more convenient for use in recipes or as a snack. Ham is a lean meat that is high in protein and low in fat, making it an ideal choice for dehydrating.
Dehydrated ham can be used in a variety of recipes, such as Bean Bark Stew with Rice or Ham & Cheese Macaroni. It adds a unique flavor and texture to meals and can be a great addition to camping or hiking trips.
In addition, dehydrated ham is easy to store and transport. It takes up less space than fresh or cooked ham, making it ideal for backpacking or other outdoor activities. It can also be stored for several months if properly prepared and stored in a cool, dry place.
Preparing The Ham For Dehydration
Assuming that you are starting with pre-sliced ham, the first step in preparing ham for dehydration is to remove any excess fat. This is usually found around the edges of the slices and in the middle. You can use a sharp knife to carefully cut off any visible fat.
Next, you will want to cut the ham into strips that are approximately 3/4 to 1 inch wide. It’s important to try and keep the strips as uniform in size as possible so that they dry evenly. You can use a meat slicer or a food processor to help with this process.
If you are using deli-sliced ham, you can skip the slicing step and simply cut the ham into smaller pieces that will fit into your dehydrator. It’s a good idea to chill the ham in the freezer for about 20 minutes before cutting it up, as this will help it hold its shape better.
Once your ham is sliced or cut into pieces, it’s time to prepare a marinade if desired. A marinade can help to add flavor and tenderize the meat. There are many different recipes available online, but a simple mixture of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper works well.
Submerge the ham strips in the marinade and mix them around so that they are evenly coated. Let the ham soak in the marinade for at least an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator for best results.
When you’re ready to dehydrate the ham, place the strips on dehydrator trays and dry them at a temperature between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately six hours. If you want to ensure that the ham is fully dehydrated, you can lower the temperature to around 135 degrees Fahrenheit and dry it for a longer period of time.
During the drying process, it’s important to check on the ham occasionally and blot off any oil droplets that form on the surface with a paper towel. This will help to remove excess oil and prevent spoilage.
Once the ham is fully dehydrated, you can break it up into smaller pieces for use in recipes or for snacking on-the-go. Dehydrated ham remains slightly chewy in texture but adds great flavor and variety to meals such as stews or macaroni dishes.
Slicing The Ham
When it comes to slicing the ham for dehydrating, it’s important to use ultra-thin sliced deli ham, which is also available pre-packaged. This type of ham is perfect for dehydrating as it will rehydrate well and the slice thickness will affect the time it takes to rehydrate. Choosing thin slices will ensure that the ham dries properly and evenly.
If you’re slicing solid regular ham, use a meat slicer or have the deli slice it for you at the grocery store. A food processor can also be used in a pinch. It’s important to cut the ham into smaller pieces that will fit into the chute and then chill it in the freezer for 20 minutes for best results.
Once you have your ham slices, cut them into 3/4 to 1-inch wide strips and place them on dehydrator trays. Make sure to spread them out evenly and avoid overlapping to ensure that they dry properly.
Remember, when dehydrating ham, use caution when slicing and handling raw meat. Always wash your hands and utensils thoroughly before and after handling meat to prevent cross-contamination.
Choosing The Right Temperature
Choosing the right temperature for dehydrating ham is crucial to ensure that it dries properly and doesn’t spoil. While a temperature between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended, it’s important to keep in mind that the higher the temperature, the faster the ham will dry.
However, if you want to be extra cautious and ensure that the ham dries all the way through, it’s best to dehydrate at a lower temperature, around 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This slower and steadier approach will take longer, but it will prevent the ham from being only partly dehydrated, which could lead to spoilage.
It’s also important to note that the cooking process will affect the temperature at which you should dehydrate your ham. If the ham has already been cooked, like deli ham for example, you can dehydrate it at a higher temperature since the risk of bacteria growth is lower. However, if you’re dehydrating raw ham, it’s recommended to dehydrate at a lower temperature to ensure that it reaches a safe internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) to kill any potential bacteria or pathogens.
Dehydrating The Ham
To start dehydrating the ham, you’ll need to cut it into strips that are about 3/4 to 1 inch wide. It’s best to use lean precooked ham with a fat content of less than 10%. Deli ham sliced for sandwiches, about 1/16 of an inch thick, is good for dehydrating. Sliced roast beef or turkey may be dried as well, but ham is usually preferred since it’s more affordable.
Before slicing the ham, partially freeze it to make it easier to cut. A sharp cutting knife is recommended for this process, and it’s important to cut the ham thinly and evenly to ensure proper drying. The thinner the slices, the better, as they are easier to dry compared to thick ones.
Once the ham is sliced, place the strips on dehydrator trays and dry them at a temperature between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you want to ensure that the ham dries all the way through, it’s best to dehydrate at a lower temperature, around 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This will take longer, but it will prevent the ham from being only partly dehydrated.
While dehydrating the ham, keep an eye out for any oil droplets that form on the surface of the meat. Blot them off with paper towels 2-3 times while drying to remove excess oil and prevent spoilage.
Once the ham is completely dry, break the strips into smaller pieces for use in recipes or as a snack on its own. Dehydrated ham remains a little chewy in meals, but it adds great variety to recipes such as Ham & Cheese Macaroni. If you find that the ham is still too chewy for your liking, boil your meal for two minutes to help soften it up.
Checking For Doneness
Checking for doneness is crucial when dehydrating ham. There are several methods that can be used to ensure that the ham is fully dehydrated. One of the most accurate methods is to use a food thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the ham and check for an internal temperature between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can use the pierce method. Pierce the ham with a meat fork or the tip of a knife and check for little resistance. The meat should easily slide in and out of the ham if it’s fully dehydrated.
Another method is to check visually. The ham should be dry and brittle to the touch, with no signs of moisture or oil droplets on the surface. It should also have shrunk in size and changed color from pink to brown.
It’s important to note that checking for doneness can vary depending on the thickness of the ham slices and the dehydrator’s temperature settings. It’s recommended to check the ham every hour or so until it’s fully dehydrated.
Once you’re confident that the ham is fully dehydrated, remove it from the dehydrator and let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. Properly dehydrated ham can last up to six months when stored in a cool, dry place.