It is a salty and chewy snack that gets eaten as soon as it is made. Dehydrating venison is an ancient method of preserving venison for utilising it for more extended periods of harsh weathers or during travel.
So, what deer jerky means? The word “jerky” derives from the Quechua word “ch’arki” which means “dried, salted venison.” Venison can be dehydrated either in a conventional oven or in an electric dehydrator (these are the best dehydrator for deer jerky).
Upon complete drying, it becomes hard and textured. Although beef jerky is usually prefered and common, you can dry different types of venison such as turkey, fish, chicken, game venison, pork, lamb, venison, buffalo, or alligator.
Factors To Consider When Choosing The best dehydrator for deer jerky
All the best dehydrators for deer jerky operate by using a heating source, fan and vents to circulate air and remove moisture from foods. The heat captures the moisture from the venison and releases it into the dehydrator.
The fan pushes moisture to the vents to be discharged outside the dehydrator. There are several main features that distinguish the top-selling dehydrators from one another. These features include the machine’s air flow system, size and capacity, and temperature settings and controls.
The air flow mechanism in a dehydrating machine can produce either horizontal or vertical air flow. With vertical air flow units, the fan is located at the top or bottom of the machine. As a result, the machine may not produce uniformly dehydrated foods as the items closest to the fan will tend to dry first. Horizontal air flow units have rear mounted fans.
Horizontal units are generally preferred for two reasons: heat is more evenly dispersed throughout the unit, thereby creating a more consistent product. Second, these units minimize the likelihood that different flavors will get mixed during the dehydration process.
Electric dehydrators generally come in two forms: stacked dehydrators and box and shelf dehydrators. Stacked dehydrators are made up of racks that are stacked on top of each other. The fan is located at the bottom and the air circulates vertically.
Box and shelf dehydrators are comprised of an outer-shell and trays, and operate like electric ovens. The fan is located in the rear and disperses air horizontally. These higher capacity dehydrators are bulkier and pricier than the stacked variety.
Temperature Settings and Controls.
Many of the more popular brands of dehydrators have adjustable temperature settings that can be helpful in maintaining an even temperature throughout the dehydration process.
This feature allows you to dehydrate a variety of foods that require different temperatures. The generally recommended setting for herbs is about 95 degrees F while beef deer jerky is 155 degrees F; thus, an adjustable setting option is necessary to accommodate both these ingredients.
Popular Deer Jerky Dehydrators
Three of the most popular dehydrators on the market are manufactured by Nesco, Excalibur and Presto. This section will address some of the advantages and disadvantages of each machine.
OUR TOP PICK
- Removes moisture required by bacteria to grow
- Dries Deer Jerky completely in 7 hours
- Dries fruits, veggies and vegetables too
- Square trays are easy to remove and clean
- Large drying area
- Option to add more trays
- 9 tray (15 sq feet of drying space)
- 10 Year warranty
- Upto 26 hours timer
- Works at 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (Deer Jerky is best dehydrated at 150 degrees Fahrenheit )
The Excalibur dehydrator is the ideal machine for large capacity dehydration and has some of the most sophisticated features on the market. The Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Dehydrator provides 15 square feet of drying space and includes an automated timer and adjustable temperature settings.
The machine contains a drying system with fan-forced, horizontal air flow that ensures even distribution of heat and air and eliminates the need to rotate trays. This mechanism produces consistently high quality results on a large variety of foods. The trays and door on this box-style model are easily removable.
Two of the biggest disadvantages of this model are its size and price. This model is priced between $200 and $250, but considering its superior temperature control system, you might determine that the Excalibur provides the best value.
The size of the machine is an additional consideration. To accommodate the shape and large capacity of this dehydrator, you will need a fair amount of counter space in your kitchen. Some users have also indicated that the dehydration process for this machine is somewhat lengthy.
- Fan and heating elements are at the top and won’t get dripped on
- Easy to use. Easy to clean. Super Quiet
- Adjustable thermostat (95 degrees Fahrenheit to 160)
- Made in USA
- Comes with 5 trays (expandable up to 12)
Nesco is an excellent machine for beginners and ideal for average to moderate use. The Nesco’s unique drying system and fan position allow food to dry uniformly, which is one of the most frequently cited benefits of this appliance.
The Nesco dehydrator’s vertical air flow system pushes air down the outside chamber and allows air to be evenly dispersed.
The distribution of air horizontally eliminates the need to rotate trays. In addition, the Nesco dehydrator has adjustable temperature controls and expands to add more trays if necessary. The Nesco SnackMaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD75-A, one of the most popular Nesco brand models, is an affordable option at just under $100.
The main drawbacks of the Nesco FD75-A dehydrator is that is does not contain a timer or an on/off switch. The user would need to closely monitor the foods during the dehydration process and then shut off the machine when the food is sufficiently dehydrated.
- 6 trays
- No rotation required during operation
- Plastic casing
The Presto dehydrator earned high ratings for the simplicity of its features. Unlike the Nesco and Excalibur, the Presto has a vertical airflow system so that heat commences from the bottom and moves upwards in a vertical direction.
The Presto dehydrator is compact, making it a suitable size for most kitchen countertops and allowing for easy clean-up. The machine also contains a transparent top cover to allow you to monitor the drying process.
Some of the models contain timers and temperature controls, while others do not. The Presto dehydrator is budget friendly, costing under $50.
The most significant drawback of the Presto dehydrator is the noise it produces. Certain models lack an on/off switch and require unplugging the machine to turn it off. Similarly, the lack of a temperature control gauge in some machines may result in improperly dehydrated foods.
Steps for Dehydrating Venison
Making deer jerky doesn’t involve any specific pre-treatment like vegetables or fruits. The process starts with preparation and then dehydrating the venison.
After selecting your desirable cuts, you have to cut them in thin slices. Remember, only lean venison make the perfect deer jerky. Best options include, cuts of loins, round or broil.
Trimming and cutting
After selection, comes the trimming and cutting. Trim as much fat as you can from the venison, because it is one of the culprits due to which venison become rancid. Make sure to cut the fat to save yourself from getting ill. After trimming, cut the venison into thin slices of 1/8 to ¼ inches thickness, as thin slices dry up more quickly. Use sharp knives when slicing the venison; otherwise, use an electric slicer or ask for your butcher’s assistance.
Salting the deer jerky
It is useful to salt the deer jerky to prevent bacteria from getting a hold on the venison during dehydration. Immerse the venison strips into brine solution that you can make by mixing ½ cup of salt with 4 cups of water. Place it at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.
After preparation and dipping in the brine solution, dry venison with your favourite marinade or rub if you need a flavoured deer jerky, or sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Place venison on the trays or racks of the dehydrator set at 160 °F and dry for 12 to 18 hours. Always dehydrate venison at the recommended temperature of 160°F for a minimum of 6 hours. This temperature is adequate to kill most harmful bacteria. If your dehydrator is not made to go high as 160°F and does not have a fan, then for safety reasons, you should not use your dehydrator to dry venison.
After drying, when a venison strip is flexible enough to bend and does not break in half. After cooling thoroughly, store deer jerky in a cool and dry place for up to 1 week.
Dehydrated venison can be used in stews, soups (see our best stock pots) and main course meals. For rehydration, venison must be cooked before dehydration to ensure a tender and edible product after rehydration. Remember, dried venison which is not cooked before dehydration cannot be rehydrated, as it will stay sturdy and chewy, similar to deer jerky, even you keep it boiling for many hours.
Cook the venison entirely and thoroughly. It should be in a tender form before slicing and marinating for dehydration. Cut it as you require and ensure complete fat removal. You can see and remove fat much more comfortably when the venison is cooked and chilled.
Determining Deer Jerky Readiness
Foods should always be tested for adequate dehydration before removal. Many factors determine the length of time necessary to dehydrate foods, such as the temperature, humidity, type of food, amount of food on the tray, size of the food pieces, and total quantity of food in the machine.
In general, venisons should be dehydrated to 20% moisture content, fruits to 10% and vegetables to about 5%. You can analyze the appearance and texture of foods for signs of readiness. It is important to test only a few pieces at a time and allow them to cool before determining whether they are ready.
Checking food for readiness is largely a matter of assessing its structure. Fruits should be pliable, but not totally brittle. Test fruits by cutting them in half; if you cannot squeeze out any moisture, then the fruit is fully dehydrated. Vegetables, however, should be brittle when they are done. Test vegetables by hitting them with a hammer to see if they shatter.
Most fully dehydrated vegetables should break into pieces. Certain vegetables, however, will retain a pliable and leathery texture upon complete dehydration. These include mushrooms, green peppers and squash. To test deer jerky, bend one piece and see how pliable it is. The venison should bend, but not snap completely like a dry stick. The deer jerky should present as dark brown to black in color once it is fully dehydrated. Herbs are considered dried when they crumble easily. The stems of the herb should bend and break with little effort.
Why Use a dehydrator when making deer Jerky
While the sun or a conventional oven can get the job done, an electric dehydrator is the most efficient way to dehydrate foods. Electric dehydrators use low heat and air flow to remove food’s natural moisture. The advantage of an electric dehydrator is that it is quicker and less laborious than other methods, such as oven-drying. Another benefit of this method is that a wide array of foods can be dehydrated.
Dehydration, or the process of extracting moisture from food, is one of the oldest methods of food preparation.
Dehydration Is An Inexpensive, Quick Simple Way To Eat Produce, Meat And Grains
Compared to many other specialized culinary gadgets, dehydrators are relatively affordable. Once you purchase your dehydrator, there are no other expensive ingredients or accessories required to operate your machine. Similarly, most recipes for dehydrated foods require just minutes to prepare. There are rarely complicated steps to follow. All you need to do is prep your particular ingredient and the dehydrating machine does all the rest!
Dehydration Is A Great Alternative To Canning Or Freezing
Canning and freezing are traditional methods of preserving fresh foods. Dehydration similarly preserves food from season to season but has certain additional benefits. Foremost, dehydration is superior to canning or freezing with respect to the retention of nutrients. Dehydration also preserves flavor better than canning and freezing and results in a higher quality product.
Dehydration Produces Portable Food That Requires Minimal Space And Refrigeration.
Dehydrated foods are compact and store easily in a pantry. They are ideal for meals and snacks to be eaten on-the-go, whether at school, at work or while traveling. Most dehydrated foods don’t require cooling or heating and can sustain short-term exposure to various temperatures.
At home, dehydrated foods will not monopolize your refrigerator and freezer space. You will never need to carry cumbersome coolers and thermoses again when you take along dehydrated snack foods.
Creates Versatile Food Products
Dehydration will provide you with a plethora of food options. Simply prepared, dehydrated produce is optimal for healthy snacking. Dehydrated vegetables and herbs can be building blocks for healthy soups, stews, sauces, omelettes and crepes. Assemble herb blends to create herb-infused oils and butters when fresh herbs are unavailable. Dehydrated foods have a variety of textures from crunchy and crispy to soft and chewy, and often retain their shape and texture better than other methods of preservation.
BENEFITS OF DEHYDRATING DEER JERKY
Yields Healthy, Preservative-Free And Chemical-Free Foods
Research has shown the importabnce of eating a diet consisting primarily of unprocessed, whole foods.
Dehydration uses whole foods. When making dehydrated foods, there is no need to add chemicals, preservatives or excess sodium to ensure freshness or enhance taste. Both are maintained as a result of the natural process of dehydration. You know exactly what goes into your food and are not exposed to ingredients you cannot decipher. Moreover, although many of us are aware of the benefits of fresh, whole foods, we are often faced with the dilemma that these foods stay fresh for only a limited time. Dehydrating allows you to enjoy foods with a prolonged shelf life without the addition of chemicals.
Incorporating dehydrated food into your diet can also expand your raw food repertoire. Dehydrators are widely utilized by adherents of the raw food movement. When applying temperatures under 118° F, foods are not subjected to the higher temperatures required for canning or cooking.
Retains Food’s Nutritional Value
According to studies, raw plant cells provide the most balanced nutrition profile. Dehydrated foods leave vitamins, such as A and C, and minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, intact. Dehydrated foods are not only nutritionally superior to packaged, processed foods, but in many respects they are preferable to foods preserved through other methods.
Dehydration results in only a 3-5% loss in nutrients. By comparison, canning entails a 60-80% depletion in nutrients while freezing normally results in a 40-60% decrease in nutrients.
In addition, certain foods, such as nuts, seeds and grains, are believed to attain a nutritional advantage when they are soaked and dehydrated or sprouted. Soaking raw nuts and seeds and then dehydrating them for later use helps to neutralize enzyme inhibitors, makes proteins more accessible and increases the potency of certain vitamins.
Preserves Surplus Food For Future Use
Dehydration is the most economical way to use raw ingredients. Once you have purchased your electric dehydrator, preserving food for future use is simple and affordable. If you have an abundance of fruits or vegetables from your own garden, you never need to dispose of that excess produce. You can enjoy seasonal produce all year round by dehydrating your favorite summer fruits.
Similarly, you can make more budget-friendly decisions for your family by purchasing produce or meat at reduced cost and dehydrating it for future use. Buying in bulk will save you time and money, and allow you to build up a reserve for future enjoyment.
Budget-Friendly Alternative To Expensive Grocery Store Products
Dehydration machines are capable of creating large quantities of food with minimal effort. Finally, you have a replacement for trendy and costly pre-made dehydrated food snacks.
Producing your own healthy fruit, vegetable and meat snacks means that you do not need to resort to feeding your children unhealthy snacks simply because they are often the cheaper option.
Given the variety of foods you can create, grocery store visits may not be as frequent.
Extended Shelf Life And A Cinch To Store
Dehydrated foods last for several months depending on the type of food you prepare. For example, certain low moisture herbs have extensive shelf lives.
Dehydrated foods don’t require special storage materials. It is not necessary to purchase expensive equipment for storage, or refrigeration and freezing apparatuses to maintain the food’s freshness. Jars with tight-fitting lids and a dark, cool area to keep them are all you need for proper storage. With these handling routines, food remains preserved and delicious for months.
Makes Healthy Eating Accessible And Convenient
One of the main impediments to consuming healthier foods is a lack of knowledge about how to prepare them. Often people think that they need to purchase ready-to-eat food products to maintain a nutritionally rich diet. With a dehydrator, healthy foods can be prepared right at home. You can choose produce directly from your garden for dehydration. It can be as simple as preparing a vegetable salad with your garden’s produce, but much more interesting and varied. Many electric dehydrators have expedited drying times so food can be eaten promptly.
Eating Dehydrated Foods Is Optimal For Weight Loss
In addition to the overall health benefits of dehydration, dehydrated foods can play a role in achieving weight loss. Dehydrated foods do not contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are primary contributors to obesity. Dehydrated foods are naturally low in fat and high in fiber. Fiber-rich foods are essential to a well-balanced diet and may help in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and digestive problems.
High fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grain products, also assist in long-term weight loss. Studies have demonstrated that because fiber swells in your stomach when it absorbs liquid, eating fiber-rich foods gives an individual the feeling of being satiated and reduces overall calorie consumption. Dehydrated food, in particular, hinders the natural triggers that signal fullness because of the food’s resulting compact size. In addition, dehydrated foods take more time to digest due to their dryness and complexity.