Why dehydrated meat?
- Preservation – Removing moisture from the meat through dehydration inhibits the growth of bacteria, mould, and yeast, which require water to survive. This extends the shelf life of the meat, allowing it to be stored and consumed over a longer period without spoiling.
- Storage – Dehydrated meat is lightweight and compact, making it easier to store and transport. This is particularly useful for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities where carrying fresh meat may be impractical due to weight, space, or spoilage concerns.
- Convenience – Dehydrated meat can be easily prepared and consumed as a snack or meal with minimal preparation. It can be eaten as is or rehydrated and used in various recipes. Dehydrated meat has a longer shelf life than fresh meat, making it a convenient option for situations where access to fresh meat is limited or when you want a ready-to-eat protein source.
- Reducing waste – Dehydrating meat can help reduce food waste by preserving and using excess or near-expiration meat that would otherwise be discarded. It’s also useful for various off-cuts that aren’t typically consumed, that can be dehydrated and kept for pet treats.
- Flavour concentration – Dehydrating meat can enhance and concentrate its flavour, making it a delicious and savoury snack or ingredient in various dishes.
- Saves money – Purchasing ready-made dehydrated meat can be costly, so creating your own can mean more value for money and give you peace of mind that no nasty additives are used to preserve the meat throughout the dehydration process.
So, what are the different types of dehydrated meats and their benefits? Read on to find out.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEHYDRATED meats & THE BENEFITS
1. DEHYDRATED beef (cow)
Beef is one of the most common meats to dehydrate and a popular choice due to its health benefits, rich flavour and the variety of cuts available. Beef jerky is a classic example of dehydrated cow meat and can be made using both muscle and ground meat.
As mentioned earlier, several health benefits come from consuming dehydrated beef, making it a nutritious snack and a healthy alternative to other processed snacks. Rich in protein and essential amino acids, dehydrated beef supports muscle growth, recovery and repair, enhances performance and boosts overall health, making it an ideal snacking choice for those who are active or performing athletes. Because dehydrated beef is typically made from lean cuts, the fat content can be considerably lower than other dehydrated meat products, which means a healthier snack or ingredient for those looking to lose weight or watch their fat intake. Other nutrients found in dehydrated beef include iron, zinc and B vitamins, which support immunity, reduce tiredness and fatigue, enhance brain function, and boost the health of skin, hair and nails.
Different parts of beef can be used for dehydration, each offering slightly varied results. See below.
- Top round – A lean and affordable cut that’s a popular choice for dehydrating due to its low-fat content and consistent texture.
- Bottom round – Another lean option and suitable choice for dehydration, but it can be slightly tougher than the top round cut.
- Eye of round – Has a low-fat content and uniform shape, making it ideal for creating evenly sized and textured dehydrated beef slices.
- Flank steak – Slightly more expensive than other cuts, it offers a lean and flavourful result.
- Offal/off-cuts – Prevents food wastage and can be a perfect choice for pet treats.
By understanding the benefits of dehydrated beef and experimenting with various cuts and flavouring options, you can create a wide range of delicious, healthy, and versatile beef products to enjoy and share. So, what are some ways that you can use dehydrated beef? See our suggestions below.
- Enjoy dehydrated beef, such as beef jerky, as a nutritious and satisfying snack option.
- Rehydrate dehydrated beef and add it to soups, stews, casseroles, or stir-fries, which will provide flavour and a boost of protein.
- Use as a topping for salads, adding a unique texture and taste.
- Thinly slice dehydrated beef and use it in sandwiches and wraps, either as is or rehydrated.
- Make dehydrated sausages, twiggy sticks and offal products such as liver or heart.
2. DEHYDRATED lamb (sheep)
Sheep, or lamb, offers a unique flavor profile and can be a delicious choice for dehydrated meat products. Lamb jerky, sausages, and offal are all possible options, and although less common than beef, pork, or chicken, lamb can provide a tasty alternative for those looking to explore different types of dehydrated meat. The most popular reason for dehydrating lamb is to create lamb jerky—a flavourful and protein-rich snack that’s both lightweight and shelf-stable. Lamb jerky offers a unique taste compared to more common jerky varieties like beef or pork, making it an appealing option for those who want something a little different in flavor.
Different parts of lamb can be used for dehydration, and each will provide varied tastes, textures, and uses. See below.
- Leg – A lean and flavourful cut that’s relatively low in fat, making it a healthier option and good for jerky.
- Loin – Another lean and tender cut suitable for dehydration that’s versatile and can be used in various recipes or as a healthy snack.
- Shoulder – A more marbled cut, offering a richer flavor when dehydrated. The higher fat content can result in a more tender and moist final product, however, it may also affect the shelf life of the dehydrated meat.
- Off cuts/offal – Many parts can be dehydrated and used as dog treats, including organs like the liver, heart, ears, trachea, and gullet.
Like its livestock counterparts, dehydrated lamb is rich in protein, iron, and other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. A nutrient-dense meat, dehydrated lamb can increase muscle mass, enhance performance and endurance, help with muscle recovery and repair, boost immunity, and support overall heart health. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, providing anti-inflammatory benefits.
Dehydrated lamb can also be used in a variety of ways to create a high-protein snack or as a delicious addition to meals. See our suggestions below.
- Make lamb jerky and enjoy it as a high-protein snack that’s perfect for on-the-go.
- Rehydrate and add to soups, stews, or stir-fries.
- Use thinly sliced dehydrated lamb in sandwiches, wraps, or as a protein boost to salads.
- Add to various rice and grain dishes such as curries or couscous.
- Create your own dehydrated lamb dog treats.
3. DEHYDRATED pork (pig)
Pig meat or pork is another popular choice and versatile dehydration option. Pork can be dehydrated and transformed into a variety of products, including pork jerky, sausages, and offal, and many off-cuts of the pig can be used for pet treats such as pig’s ears and snouts. Pork rinds, also known as crackling, are a popular snack made from the skin of a pig, and dehydrating the rinds before deep frying them is an essential step that contributes to their crispy, crunchy texture and helps ensure consistent results.
Various parts of a pig can be used for dehydration, each with its unique benefits in terms of taste, texture, and culinary applications. Pork is generally considered a fattier meat, so it’s important to remember that the leaner the cut, the longer the shelf life, as fat can become rancid over time. See our list below of various cuts.
- Ham – This is the rear leg of the pig and is known for its lean meat and rich flavor. The lean nature of the meat makes it a lower-fat option compared to other cuts.
- Loin – A lean and tender cut that can be dehydrated to make pork jerky or other dried pork products. It has a milder flavor than other cuts, and its low-fat content makes it a healthier option.
- Shoulder – A flavorful and relatively fatty cut that can be used for dehydrating. The higher fat content can result in a more tender and moist final product, but it might also affect the shelf life of the dehydrated meat.
- Belly – A fatty cut with alternating layers of meat and fat. It’s a rich, flavourful cut, but the high-fat content may affect the shelf life.
- Ears – Considered off-cuts and not traditional muscle meat, they can still be dehydrated and provide a popular dog treat that can help clean your pup's teeth.
Besides the delicious flavor that dehydrated pork offers, there are also several health benefits. Like beef, dehydrated pork is a rich source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals, including zinc, iron, and vitamins B6 and B12. Some of the benefits of these nutrients include assisting with muscle growth, recovery, and maintaining lean muscle mass, improving performance, boosting immunity, reducing tiredness and fatigue, and supporting overall health and bodily functions. One thing to consider, however, is that dehydrated pork can be rich in fat, more so in certain cuts than others, as outlined above. This is something to be mindful of if you’re looking to create low-fat snacks or meals or if you have particular weight loss goals. Removing excess fat in the preparation process can also increase the shelf life of dehydrated pork (more about this in our preparation section).
As with beef, you can experiment with the different cuts of pork and create a range of flavourful products, snacks, or meals to enjoy. See some of our favorite ways to use dehydrated pork below.
- Create pork jerky, a protein-rich, convenient snack that’s perfect for hikes, road trips, or to enjoy throughout a busy day.
- Rehydrate and use it in various dishes like stir-fries, soups, and stews.
- Combine with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and other snack items to create a high-energy trail mix, perfect for outdoor activities or as a quick pick-me-up during the day.
- Add thinly sliced or chopped dehydrated pork to your salads for an extra boost of protein and flavor.
- Thinly slice dehydrated or rehydrated pork and add to sandwiches and wraps for a delicious and filling meal.
- Add to rice or grain dishes, such as fried rice, pilaf, or quinoa bowls, for a flavorful protein addition.
- Use rehydrated or crumbled dehydrated pork as a topping for baked potatoes, stuffed peppers, or stuffed mushrooms.
- Add to your favorite omelet or frittata recipe for a protein-rich and tasty breakfast or brunch option.
- Make crunchy, flavourful pork rinds (chicharron) and enjoy as a delicious snack.
Dehydrated wild/game meat
1. Dehydrated venison (deer)
Venison, or deer meat, is a popular choice for dehydration due to its lean nature and rich flavor. Venison jerky is a classic example, and it can be made using both muscle and ground meat, as well as dehydrated sausages and various offal products. A nutritious alternative to traditional meats, dehydrated venison delivers a rich, gamey flavor that separates it from more conventional options. Venison is leaner and higher in protein compared to beef or pork, making it a popular choice for health-conscious consumers. The dehydration process enhances venison’s unique taste, and it can be seasoned with various spices and herbs, allowing for a versatile array of flavors.
As with other meats, different parts of the deer can be dehydrated, which will offer varied flavors and textures. See below.
- Leg/haunch – A lean and flavourful cut that can be used to make venison jerky or other dried products. Its relatively low-fat content makes it a healthier option, and the final product can be tender and delicious.
- Loin – Includes the backstrap and tenderloin and is a highly prized, tender cut suitable for dehydration.
- Shoulder – A more marbled cut, offering a richer flavor when dehydrated. The higher fat content can result in a more tender and moist final product, however, it might also affect the shelf life of the dehydrated meat.
- Offal – Nutrient-dense, various organs like the liver, kidneys, and heart can be dehydrated and used as dog treats.
Venison is much leaner than red meat, having less fat and calories, making it a great protein choice for those with cardiovascular disease or monitoring their fat intake. A high-quality and complete source of protein, dehydrated venison is also considered more nutrient-dense than other meats, with iron, zinc, and B vitamins found in relatively high quantities. Consuming dehydrated venison can strengthen the immune system, boost energy and performance, assist muscle growth and recovery, enhance brain function, and support weight loss. Dehydrated venison is also a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly meat being that deer are found in their natural habitat, they consume very little of their surrounding natural resources, and they have no contact with harmful chemicals that could affect the meat.
See our suggestions below for how to use dehydrated venison.
- Make deer jerky which is high in protein, low in fat, and can be enjoyed as a nutritious snack option.
- Rehydrate and use in soups, stews, casseroles, or stir-fries.
- Use thinly sliced in wraps and sandwiches.
- Add rehydrated venison to risotto, grain bowls, or curries for added flavor and protein.
2. Dehydrated elk
Elk is a type of deer native to the North American and Eastern Asian regions and is known for its lean and nutritionally dense meat. Considered a more premium variety of venison, elk offers a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other traditional meats. As a popular choice for dehydration, elk's lean and nutritious composition provides an excellent foundation for creating high-protein, low-fat snacks such as jerky, which is prized for its tenderness and distinctive taste. Creating dehydrated elk meat not only preserves the rich, gamey flavors unique to this type of venison but also offers a convenient, long-lasting food source that can be enjoyed on the go, on outdoor adventures, or as a healthy at-home snack.
See below for the best cuts of elk to use for dehydration.
- Loin – One of the most prized cuts, the loin, which includes the backstrap, offers lean and tender meat that’s full of flavor, perfect for jerky.
- Roasts (round, chuck, or shoulder) – A larger, lean cut, perfect for dehydration due to their size and uniformity.
- Steaks – A tender and flavourful cut, much like the loin.
As mentioned, dehydrated elk is high in protein and a good source of essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorus, and zinc, making it a highly nutritious addition to a balanced diet. With a lot less fat than beef, dehydrated elk is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support weight loss, cardiovascular health, and improved muscle mass. Some of the other health benefits dehydrated elk delivers include boosting immunity, increasing energy, and improving focus and overall brain function.
Elk is also a sustainable meat choice, meaning that it’s free of hormones, antibiotics, or steroids, being that it’s not a farm-raised animal and is found in its natural habitat.
How can you use dehydrated elk? See our suggestions below.
- Make dehydrated elk jerky for a flavorful, protein-rich snack.
- Rehydrate and use in stews, soups, casseroles, or various hot dishes.
- Thinly slice and add to sandwiches or wraps.
- A great low-fat, nutritious, flavorful pet treat.
3. Dehydrated moose
Native to parts of North America and Canada, moose meat has a lean composition and high nutritional value and is known for its distinctively rich and slightly sweet flavor. Delivering a rich source of protein and nutrients makes dehydrated moose a great choice for creating dehydrated jerky, as it not only preserves this game meat’s unique flavor profile but it offers a convenient, long-lasting food source for outdoor activities such as hiking or camping, or simply a healthy on-the-go snack option. Low in both calories and fat, dehydrated moose is a great choice for those looking to lose weight and a nutritious alternative to lamb or beef.
Much like elk, these are the best cuts to use for dehydration.
- Loin – A cut that’s lean and full of flavor, making it perfect for dehydration. It's a prime cut that results in excellent jerky.
- Roasts – These are larger cuts, like the shoulder or haunch, that can be sliced thin and dehydrated to make jerky. They're lean and flavorful, making them great for dehydration.
- Steaks – Tender and flavorful, this cut is excellent for dehydrating and making into jerky.
In addition to its high protein content, dehydrated moose meat is also a valuable source of essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and zinc, contributing to a balanced diet. Because it’s high in protein, dehydrated moose meat fuels the body with energy and supports the growth and maintenance of muscle in the body. Some of the other benefits of including dehydrated moose meat in your diet include supporting blood and heart health, reducing fatigue and depression, boosting metabolism, protecting the immune system, and enhancing skin health.
Moose meat is also free of any chemicals and hormones, being that they’re found in the wild, making it an organic and sustainable food choice.
See below for our suggestions on the various ways to use dehydrated moose.
- Create a nutritious, protein-rich snack such as moose jerky.
- Rehydrate and add to stews, casseroles, or various hot dishes.
- Use sliced in sandwiches or wraps.
- Ground into a powder and use a flavorful addition to sauces and gravies.
- Make flavorful and nutritious pet treats.
4. Dehydrated wild boar
Dehydrated wild boar offers a unique flavour and a wide range of health benefits, making it a popular choice for those seeking a delicious and nutritious alternative to conventional meats. As a game meat, wild boar is leaner and has a more complex taste profile than domesticated pork, delivering a rather strong, nutty and rich flavour. The dehydration process helps preserve the natural flavours and rich nutrient profile, resulting in a versatile and long-lasting food option that can be enjoyed in various dishes or to create jerky, sausages and various offal products. Whilst you may also expect it to look like pork, wild boar is much darker in colour than its domestic cousin.
So, what cuts of wild boar are best for dehydration? See below.
- Loin – A tender, lean cut that’s suitable for making jerky or other dried products, providing a high-quality, flavourful, protein-rich option.
- Shoulder – A more marbled cut that offers a richer flavour when dehydrated. The higher fat content can result in a tender and moist final product but may affect the shelf life.
- Leg – Another lean cut that’s ideal for dehydration, offering a good balance between tenderness and flavour.
Wild boar is super high in protein and much lower in saturated fats compared to chicken, beef and pork.
Nutrient-dense and rich in essential amino acids, dehydrated wild boar helps build and maintain lean muscle mass, assists with muscle recovery and repair, and can keep you feeling full and satisfied, which supports weight loss and prevents unnecessary snacking. A great source of iron, zinc, and B vitamins, dehydrated wild boar also promotes a healthy immune system, boosts energy, supports healthy brain function, and assists with overall heart and blood health. Dehydrated wild boar is also a sustainable and eco-friendly meat choice as the animals are not raised on farms and, therefore, are free of any harmful antibiotics, additives or chemicals.
Dehydrated wild boar can be used in the following ways:
- Create dehydrated wild boar jerky or strips and enjoy it as a protein-packed snack.
- Rehydrate and use in stews, casseroles, stir-fries or curries.
- Add thinly sliced to salads or sandwiches for added flavour and protein.
- Perfect for low-fat, nutritious and delicious dog treats.
5. Dehydrated Bison
The largest indigenous animal native to North America, bison is another popular game meat, offering a flavor profile similar to beef but with a slightly sweeter and richer taste. Bison jerky, sausages, and offal products can be made using this lean meat that’s rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals, including zinc, copper, iron, and B vitamins. Bison tend to offer more tender meat than beef, and it’s also lower in calories and fat. Bison is also a more sustainable meat choice than beef or even poultry, being that they live freely in the wild, meaning they’re free from antibiotics and growth hormones that can affect the quality of the meat. You’ll find that bison meat is generally more expensive than even the best quality grass-fed beef—this is because there are fewer bison available, and it costs much more to produce and distribute their meat.
See below for the best cuts of bison to use for dehydration.
- Loin – A tender, lean cut that produces excellent dehydrated bison for making jerky or other dried products.
- Round – A lean, flavourful cut from the hindquarters, ideal for dehydration and creating a protein-rich snack.
- Chuck – A more marbled cut that offers a richer flavor when dehydrated but may have a shorter shelf life due to its fat content.
As mentioned, bison meat is rich in protein and various nutrients, providing numerous health benefits to the consumer. Bison is considered one of the best cuts of meat when it comes to the protein versus fat ratio, as it's particularly low in saturated fats compared to beef and lower in calories as it offers a leaner cut of meat with less fat content. Like other wild game meat, the high protein levels assist with muscle growth and development and provide a great source of fuel and energy for the body. Dehydrated bison can keep you feeling fuller for longer periods, allowing the body to absorb all the nutrients and preventing unhealthy snacking. With the rich mineral content mentioned above, dehydrated bison also supports the immune system, provides anti-inflammatory benefits, assists with brain health and function, and improves digestive health.
What are some ways you can use dehydrated bison? See below.
- Make dehydrated bison jerky for a high-protein snack to enjoy.
- Add to sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
- Use on charcuterie boards for added flavor.
- Create healthy pet treats.
- Rehydrate and use in stews, casseroles, soups, or stir-fries.
1. Dehydrated chicken
Dehydrated chicken is popular for its versatility, familiar taste, and numerous health benefits. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, making it an ideal option for dehydration. Not only does the dehydration process preserve the meat's nutrients, but it also extends its shelf life—making it perfect for long-term storage and various recipes. A great nutritional alternative to red meats, dehydrated chicken provides many physical benefits, such as strengthening bones and muscles and promoting feelings of fullness, which helps to prevent unhealthy snacking.
See the various cuts of chicken to use for dehydration below.
- Breast – A lean, tender cut that yields flavourful dehydrated chicken and is ideal for making jerky or other dried products, providing a high-quality, protein-rich option.
- Thighs – A more marbled cut that offers a richer flavour when dehydrated. The higher fat content can result in a more tender and moist final product but may affect the shelf life.
- Offal and off-cuts – Organs like the liver, heart, and gizzard can be dehydrated for nutrient-dense pet treats as well as chicken feet and necks.
A rich source of protein and packed with essential amino acids that support muscle growth and repair, dehydrated chicken has less fat and fewer calories than a lot of other meats, making it a great choice for those monitoring their fat intake or looking to lose weight. Dehydrated chicken is also packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and B vitamins that boost overall heart health and brain function, and is considerably high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is known to enhance serotonin levels in the brain and therefore improve mood.
See our favourite ways to use dehydrated chicken below.
- Make chicken jerky or shreds and enjoy it as a protein-rich snack.
- Add to salads for extra flavour, texture and nutrients.
- Thinly sliced dehydrated chicken can be used in sandwiches, wraps and burgers.
- Rehydrate and use in curries, stews, soups, stir-fries and casseroles.
- Create high-value pet treats—your dog will love you!
2. Dehydrated quail
Perfect for those seeking an alternative to more conventional poultry, dehydrated quail is a small game bird that offers a unique flavour that’s high in nutrients. The dehydration process preserves both the nutrients and distinct flavours of quail, allowing for long-term storage and use in various dishes and recipes. Much like chicken, quail is a lean and tender meat that’s rich in protein, providing numerous health benefits to the mind and body. Like other meats, dehydrated quail can be seasoned with a wide range of herbs, spices and marinades to create diverse tastes and flavours that many can enjoy.
The below cuts of quail can be used for dehydration.
- Breast – A lean, tender cut that produces excellent dehydrated quail, suitable for making jerky or other dried products.
- Leg – Another lean cut that’s ideal for dehydration, offering a good balance between tenderness and flavour.
- Offal and off-cuts – Although a much smaller animal, various parts of quail can be dehydrated and used as nutrient-rich pet treats.
Quail has a very similar nutritional profile to its poultry cousin, chicken, being that it’s rich in protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, however, the level of vitamins and minerals found in quail is much higher than in chicken. Quail meat provides a great source of calcium, which helps to strengthen bones, and is particularly high in vitamins A and E, which improve overall skin health and vision. Other benefits of dehydrated quail meat include boosting immunity, improving heart and blood health, supporting digestion, and assisting with muscle growth, strength and recovery.
Dehydrated quail can be used in various ways. See our suggestions below.
- Create nutrient-rich pet treats with quail meat or off-cuts like quail feet. It can be a low-allergen alternative to chicken, perfect for dogs with sensitivities to chicken, beef or pork.
- Make quail jerky or shred it and add it to nut or trail mixes for a healthy snack option.
- Add thin slices to salads, sandwiches, wraps or charcuterie boards.
- Rehydrate and add to various recipes, including stews, curries, soups and casseroles.
3. Dehydrated turkey
Turkey is a classic choice for dehydration, offering a lean and versatile option for poultry lovers. Dehydrated turkey jerky, sausages and offal products can all be made using this widely available bird, and its mild flavour makes it a popular choice for those seeking a leaner alternative to beef or pork jerky. With an impressive nutritional profile, dehydrated turkey is loaded with protein and various vitamins and minerals that offer many health benefits. Compared to chicken, turkey is a slightly larger bird, therefore offering more meat, and although both are nutritious options for dehydration, turkey meat is considered the leaner of the two because it’s lower in calories, fat and cholesterol.
See the various cuts of turkey that can be used for dehydration below.
- Breast – A lean, tender, flavourful cut, ideal for making jerky or other dried products, providing a high-quality, protein-rich option.
- Thighs – A more marbled cut that offers a richer flavour. The higher fat content can result in a tender and moist final product but may affect the shelf life.
- Offal and off-cuts – Organs like the liver, heart, and gizzard can be dehydrated for nutrient-dense pet treats as well as turkey necks.
As mentioned above, dehydrated turkey delivers a rich source of protein, which is essential for muscle development and maintenance, and is packed with B vitamins and minerals, including selenium, zinc, iron and phosphorus. These nutrients boost energy production, improve brain function, strengthen bones, support thyroid function, enhance metabolism and protect the immune system.
See our suggestions below for using dehydrated turkey in your diet.
- Make a flavourful dehydrated turkey jerky, creating a nutritious snack.
- Use thin slices in salads, sandwiches and wraps.
- Include in various cheese and charcuterie boards for added protein.
- Create your own dehydrated turkey pet treats.
4. Dehydrated pheasant
Pheasant is the largest in the game bird family with a slightly stronger flavour than quail, and it can be dehydrated and used to make pheasant jerky, sausages and various offal products. Pheasant's distinct taste sets it apart from other poultry, delivering a slightly sweeter flavour than chicken, making it a delicious choice for dehydrated meat enthusiasts. Like other game birds, the pheasants have both white and dark meat that’s generally lean and tender (the leg meat is usually tougher), and the meat is also rich in protein and nutrients that offer numerous health benefits.
See below for the best cuts of pheasant to use for dehydration.
- Breast – A lean, tender cut that produces excellent dehydrated pheasant meat, suitable for making jerky or other dried products.
- Leg – Another cut that can be used for dehydration, but it’s a slightly darker meat with tougher tendons.
Because pheasants are hunted in their natural habitat, they have not been affected by any hormones, antibiotics or chemicals that could impact the quality of the meat. Pheasant meat is super low in fat and calories and contains high levels of iron, potassium and B vitamins. Consuming dehydrated pheasant meat will support muscle growth and development, help with weight loss and maintaining a low fat intake, improve heart health, protect the immune system and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Dehydrated pheasant is also a highly nutritious meat to feed your dogs as it enhances their vision, assists with muscle and nerve function and helps to maintain a healthy coat and skin.
Whilst pheasants are not as easily accessible as chicken or turkey, there are still many ways to use dehydrated pheasant—see below.
- Get experimental with seasonings and make a flavourful pheasant jerky.
- Make high-value dog treats with dehydrated pheasant strips.
- Mix with salads and rice dishes for added texture, nutrients and flavour.
- Include thinly sliced dehydrated pheasant on various platters or cheese boards for a boost of protein and flavour.
5. Dehydrated ostrich
Whilst ostrich meat is considered poultry, its appearance and taste are almost identical to beef, being that it’s red meat, with many people unable to tell the difference between the two. The ostrich is a large, flightless bird with extremely lean, tender meat that’s rich in protein and essential nutrients and is a far healthier alternative to beef with its low fat and calorie content. Considered the most sustainable red meat on the market, the ostrich has a much smaller impact on the land yet produces the same amount of meat as grass-fed cattle—with a fraction of the environmental footprint.
Although no part of the ostrich really goes to waste (everything from their eggs, hides, and minimal fat can be used to make oil or various leather products), these are the best cuts to use for dehydration.
- Fan fillet – A lean, tender cut that’s suitable for making jerky or other dried products.
- Leg – A lean cut with more connective tissue that, when dehydrated, offers a good balance between tenderness and flavour.
- Offal – Organs like the liver and heart can be dehydrated for nutrient-dense pet treats.
High in iron, protein and zinc, ostrich meat is also low in cholesterol, with a lower saturated fat content than beef, deer or even other forms of poultry. This makes it a suitable meat choice for those looking to lose or manage their weight. Ostrich meat is also rich in B vitamins, selenium, phosphorus and potassium, which support the immune system, boost muscle growth, assist with overall blood and heart health and help maintain the appearance and quality of your skin, hair and nails.
Some of the ways to use dehydrated ostrich meat are listed below.
DEHYDRATING DIFFERENT MEAT PRODUCTS
As mentioned in the various meat categories above, jerky is one of the most popular ways to enjoy your dehydrated meat, as it offers a tasty, convenient, high-protein snack option that’s perfect for on-the-go, and in particular, for camping or hiking. This versatile treat can be made from various types of meat, including beef, pork, poultry, and game meats, providing a wide range of flavour profiles. Both muscle and ground jerky provide unique textures and flavours, and experimenting with different meats, marinades, and seasonings can result in a wide variety of delicious and satisfying jerky products. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the two main types of jerky—muscle jerky and ground jerky—and discuss their preparation methods, advantages, and unique characteristics.
Muscle jerky is made from lean cuts of meat, such as top round, the eye of round, or flank steak, which are carefully trimmed of fat to ensure a longer shelf life. Fat can become rancid during the dehydration process, so removing it is crucial for preserving the jerky's quality. The lean meat is then sliced into thin, uniform strips, either with or against the grain, depending on the desired texture. Slicing with the grain results in a chewier jerky, while slicing against the grain yields a more tender product.
If we’re looking at beef jerky, for example, some of the most popular cuts for jerky include:
- Top round – This lean and flavorful cut is an excellent choice for making jerky due to its low-fat content and consistent texture. It’s also relatively affordable compared to other cuts of beef.
- Bottom round – Another lean cut from the hindquarters of the cow, the bottom round is also suitable for jerky and has a similar texture to the top round.
- Flank steak – Known for its strong beef flavour and lean profile, flank steak is another popular choice for making jerky. However, it’s essential to slice it against the grain to ensure a tender final product.
After slicing, the meat is marinated or seasoned with a variety of herbs, spices, and flavourings to create a unique and delicious taste. The marinated meat is then placed on dehydrator trays or oven racks, ensuring that the pieces are not touching or overlapping for even drying. Muscle jerky is typically dehydrated at a low temperature (around 63°C) for several hours, depending on the thickness of the meat and the desired level of dryness.
Ground jerky is an alternative to muscle jerky, made from lean ground meat instead of whole muscle cuts, and to prepare, the ground meat is mixed with various seasonings and spices to create a flavourful blend. A jerky gun, which extrudes the seasoned meat mixture into thin, uniform strips, is often used for shaping ground jerky, and these strips are then placed on dehydrator trays or oven racks, similar to muscle jerky.
Ground jerky is also dehydrated at a low temperature (around 63°C) for several hours, depending on the thickness of the strips and the desired level of dryness. One advantage of ground jerky is its tenderness, making it easier to chew and more palatable for some individuals, particularly those with dental issues.
Dehydrated sausages, such as twiggy sticks, are another popular type of dehydrated meat product that offers a satisfying, high-protein snack option. These sausages can be made from a variety of meats, including beef, pork, poultry, and game meats, and are available in numerous flavour profiles. The process of making dehydrated sausages begins with selecting a lean cut of meat and grinding it to achieve a consistent texture. Seasonings, spices, and flavourings are then mixed into the ground meat to create a distinctive taste, and some recipes may also call for the addition of curing salts, which help preserve the meat and enhance its flavour.
Once the meat mixture is seasoned, it’s stuffed into casings to form the sausages. Natural or synthetic casings can be used, depending on your preference and the type of sausage being made. The casings should be filled evenly, ensuring that there are no air pockets, which can lead to uneven drying and spoilage.
After the sausages are stuffed and formed, they are hung in a dehydrator with a controlled temperature to begin the drying process. Our 2 Zone/116 Hook Vertical Rotisserie/Biltong Maker is the perfect machine for this as it features two sections with 58 hooks per section, making the process of dehydrating sausages efficient and effective. The dehydration temperature should be set to around 63°C for several hours, depending on the thickness of the sausages and the desired level of dryness.
As with dehydrating other meat products, it’s essential to monitor the internal temperature of the sausages to ensure they reach at least 71°C for pork and game meats or 74°C for poultry to kill any bacteria present and ensure a safe and quality finished product.
Creating your own dehydrated sausages offers several advantages over purchasing store-bought versions. Not only can you control the quality of the ingredients—selecting the best cuts of meat and freshest seasonings—but making your own homemade sausages allows you to also customise the flavour profile to suit your taste preferences, experimenting with various herbs, spices, and combinations. Additionally, making dehydrated sausages at home can be more cost-effective than purchasing pre-made products, as you can buy meat in bulk and create large batches of sausages at a lower cost per unit.
OFFAL AND ORGAN MEATS
Offal and organ meats, also known as off-cuts, are nutrient-dense and flavourful options for dehydrated meat products. These meats, which include liver, heart, kidney, and more, are often overlooked in favor of more traditional muscle meats. However, they provide a unique taste and a wealth of nutritional benefits being that they’re packed with essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, that are vital for overall health. As an example, the liver is a rich source of iron, vitamin A, and vitamin B12, while the heart contains high levels of coenzyme Q10, which supports cardiovascular health. Dehydrating offal and organ meats helps to preserve their nutritional content while providing a portable and convenient snacking option.
When selecting offal and organ meats for dehydration, it’s essential to choose fresh, high-quality cuts from a reputable source. As with other types of meat, it’s crucial to remove any excess fat and connective tissue to ensure longer shelf life and prevent spoilage. Before dehydrating offal and organ meats, they should be sliced into thin, uniform pieces or strips for even drying. Some offal, such as liver, may benefit from being soaked in milk or water for several hours or overnight to help remove any strong or gamey flavors.
Once prepared, offal and organ meats can be seasoned or marinated to taste and placed on dehydrator trays or oven racks for drying. The dehydration temperature should be set to around 145°F for several hours, depending on the thickness of the meat and the desired level of dryness. As with other dehydrated meat products, it’s essential to monitor the internal temperature of the offal and organ meats to ensure they reach at least 160°F for pork and game meats or 165°F for poultry to kill any bacteria present.
Dehydrating offal and organ meats offers a unique opportunity for culinary creativity and experimentation with diverse flavors and textures. These dehydrated products can be enjoyed on their own as a nutrient-rich snack or incorporated into various dishes, such as salads, grain bowls, or pasta dishes, for an added boost of nutrition and flavor.
4. Offal & off-cuts for pet treats
Dehydrating offal and off-cuts for pet treats, particularly for dogs, has become increasingly popular due to their cost-effectiveness, nutritional benefits, and potential for business expansion if you’re a butcher. Not only does it minimise wastage, but it can help you save money instead of purchasing pre-made store alternatives, and it keeps your pets happy too!
See our list below of popular off-cuts used as pet treats.
- Pig's ears
- Pig's snouts
- Chicken feet
- Chinstrap (beef cheek)
- Beef trachea
- Lamb's ears
- Cow hooves
- Beef pizzle (bull penis)
- Duck feet
- Turkey necks
- Beef lung
- Lamb's lung
- Beef liver
- Beef kidney
- Beef heart
These off-cuts provide a variety of textures, flavors, and nutritional benefits for pets, making them popular choices for homemade dehydrated pet treats.
Much like humans, pets can also benefit from the nutrient-rich properties of offal and off-cuts. Organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that support your pet's overall health. Dehydrating these meats for pet treats provides a convenient and portable option for pet owners, making it easier to ensure their pets are receiving the nutrients they need.
One of the primary advantages of dehydrating your own offal and off-cuts to create pet treats is the potential for cost savings. Store-bought treats for your pet can be quite expensive and quickly add up, especially those made from high-quality ingredients. By dehydrating these meats at home, pet owners can save a significant amount of money compared to purchasing pre-packaged treats.
As an example, purchasing a kilo of beef liver at a local butcher or supermarket may cost around $8, whilst a kilo of store-bought dehydrated liver treats can cost approximately $40 or more. By dehydrating the liver yourself, you can create a similar quantity of treats for a fraction of the cost whilst also controlling the quality of the ingredients and ensuring the treats are free of additives and preservatives.
Butchers can also capitalize on the growing demand for high-quality, dehydrated pet treats by dehydrating offal and off-cuts in-house and selling them to their existing customers. This additional revenue stream allows butchers to utilize more of the animal, reducing waste and increasing profitability. In addition to providing a valuable service to pet owners, offering dehydrated pet treats can help butchers establish a more diverse product range and attract a wider customer base. By promoting the nutritional benefits and cost savings of these homemade treats, butchers can appeal to health-conscious and budget-savvy pet owners seeking the best products for their pets.
5. Pork rinds
Dehydrating pork rinds before frying has several benefits that contribute to a better end product. Firstly, it removes excess moisture from the skin, allowing it to become exceptionally crispy and light when fried. Dehydrating also helps break down the skin's proteins and collagen, resulting in a more tender and less chewy texture. This process also helps to reduce the risk of the rinds curling up or becoming unevenly cooked during frying.
To prepare pork rinds for dehydration, start by trimming any excess fat from the skin and cutting it into small, uniform pieces. This will help ensure even drying and consistent frying results. Next, place the pork rinds on dehydrator trays, making sure they’re not touching or overlapping. Dehydrate the rinds at a low temperature (around 54°C) for several hours or until they’re completely dry and brittle. The drying time may vary depending on the thickness of the skin, so be sure to check the rinds periodically to monitor their progress.
Once the pork rinds are thoroughly dehydrated, they’re ready for frying. Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large, heavy-bottomed pot to a temperature of approximately 375°F. Carefully lower the dried rinds into the hot oil, being cautious not to overcrowd the fryer, as this can lower the oil temperature and result in uneven cooking. Fry the rinds until they puff up and become golden brown, which usually takes just a few seconds. Remove the rinds from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Season the hot pork rinds with salt or your choice of spices, and enjoy them as a delicious and satisfying snack.
PRE-TREATMENT & PREPARATION
Marinades & dry rubs
The options are endless when it comes to creating different flavours and tastes of dehydrated meat. Whether it be a combination of herbs and spices or a sweet marinade, there are many ways to experiment that will enhance the taste of the final product.
See our guide below for various ways to flavour your meat prior to dehydration.
- Marinades – Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue or hot sauce, combined with oil, vinegar, or citrus juice create a delicious base for livestock meat. Add herbs, spices, and aromatics, such as garlic, onion or ginger, as desired.
- Dry rubs – Chilli powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper (see our page on creating your own dehydrated powders). Adjust proportions to create your own custom blend.
- Herbs and spices – Rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin or coriander to add depth of flavour to various livestock meat.
- Sweeteners – A small amount of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup can be added to marinades or dry rubs to provide a hint of sweetness to livestock meat.
- Smoke – Smoking the beef during the dehydration process adds a smoky flavour that complements the natural taste of the beef.
- Marinades – Red wine, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar-based marinades can complement the rich flavours of game meats. Add garlic, juniper berries, or mustard for extra zing.
- Dry rubs – A blend of chilli powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt can enhance the natural flavours of game meat.
- Herbs and spices – Sage, rosemary, thyme, or bay leaves can add complexity and balance.
- Sweeteners – For a sweet and savoury twist, try adding fruit preserves, such as cranberry or cherry, to marinades.
- Marinades – Lemon or lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs create a fresh, zesty marinade. Alternatively, try an Asian-inspired marinade with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.
- Dry rubs – Mix together smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt for a well-rounded rub.
- Herbs and spices – Tarragon, dill, parsley, basil, or coriander can add brightness and freshness to poultry. Experiment with different combinations to suit your taste.
- Sweeteners – Honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup can be added to marinades for a hint of sweetness that pairs well with poultry.
Feel free to mix and match ingredients, adjust proportions, and explore new combinations to create unique flavours that suit your preferences.