We recently replaced our very old and tired dehydrator with an Excalibur 3900 which lists jerky to be made at its highest temperature of 155*
We checked our old dehydrator with a thermometer and found it could only get to 132* at best. I haven't had a chance to hook up the Excalibur yet but was wondering if others have verified the temp in your dehydrator to verify that it's actually running at the advertised temp?
Also, the usda says this about using a dehydrator for making beef jerky.
When raw meat or poultry is dehydrated at home either in a warm oven or a food dehydrator to make jerky which will be stored on the shelf, pathogenic bacteria are likely to survive the dry heat of a warm oven and especially the 130 to 140 °F of a food dehydrator...
Why is temperature important when making jerky? Illnesses due to Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 from homemade jerky raise questions about the safety of traditional drying methods for making beef and venison jerky. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat. But most dehydrator instructions do not include this step, and a dehydrator may not reach temperatures high enough to heat meat to 160 °F or 165 °F...
Why is it a food safety concern to dry meat without first heating it to 160 °F?
The danger in dehydrating meat and poultry without cooking it to a safe temperature first is that the appliance will not heat the meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F temperatures at which bacteria are destroyed before the dehydrating process. After drying, bacteria become much more heat resistant.
Within a dehydrator or low-temperature oven, evaporating moisture absorbs most of the heat. Thus, the meat itself does not begin to rise in temperature until most of the moisture has evaporated. Therefore, when the dried meat temperature finally begins to rise, the bacteria have become more heat resistant and are more likely to survive. If these surviving bacteria are pathogenic, they can cause foodborne illness to those consuming the jerky...
What are the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's recommendations for making homemade jerky?...
Steam or roast meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer before dehydrating it.
Dry meats in a food dehydrator that has an adjustable temperature dial and will maintain a temperature of at least 130 to 140 °F throughout the drying process.
Additionally this document on the subject from the University of Wisconsin comes up frequently when searching on this subject.
Dried meat, commonly called jerky, has been a popular food for thousands of years. Jerky has traditionally been made by drying meat at low temperatures (130°F ‐170°F) for a long period of time. These processing conditions can make it difficult to manufacture a safe product, especially using a home dehydrator. It is important to reach a sufficient temperature in the jerky‐drying process to kill pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 which may contaminate the product...
Safe Drying Methods
In our research we tested 3 home‐style dehydrators: the Gardenmaster (#1010) and Jerky Xpress (#28JX), both from Nesco/American Harvest, and the Excalibur (#3900).
Choose one of the following recommended drying methods: Dry meat at 145° - 155°F for at least 4 hours followed by heating in a pre-
heated 275°F oven for 10 minutes...
Steam or roast meat strips in marinade to an internal temperature of 160°F before drying; heat poultry to 165°F (internal temperature) before drying. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline currently recommends this method for making safe jerky. The pre‐heating step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed before drying and a lower dehydrator temperature (130° to 140°F) can be used. After boiling, dehydrate meat for 4 to 6 hours. No post-dehydration oven-heating is necessary. Since it can be impossible to accurately measure the internal temperature of a thin strip of meat, consumers can boil meat in marinade (or water) for 5 minutes before drying. Unfortunately, this USDA‐recommended method produces a dried, crumbly product that would be judged inferior by Wisconsin standards for chewy, flexible jerky.
What say you about this? No big deal, pre or post heating is not necessary, just stick it in the dehydrator for X hours and it's fine... My family has been making it this way for 250 years and nobody has died yet.
Or do you either pre or post heat the meat to 160*+?
I make mine in the deyhdrator - but I store in in the freezer and only take it out to be eaten so it's not sitting at room temp for long.
I don't like how it turns out with the heating up to that temp, but I'm not willing to take the chance of the bacteria either. I figure if someone else has been doing it for years with success, that does not mean I can assume that the way I do it is similar enough to have the same success.
I have an Excalibur 3900 9 tray with fan and timer ..I have made beef jerky with it using Alton Brown's recipe..DH doesn't keep it in the fridge but then again it is never around very long either maybe a couple of weeks or three. I just keep it in a ziplock bag.
Alton uses a fan and a/c filters..lol I follow the cooking instructions with the Excalibur Dehydrator Book
The test they talk about in the article is about ground beef formed into strips and dried into jerky. It's my understanding that ground beef is much more likely to contain ecoli than larger pieces of meat. For jerky I either use venison or buy beef roasts on sale and slice them myself. Not sure why anyone would go to the trouble of grinding the meat, THEN forming it into strips and drying it. Must be a regional thing.
For jerky I either use venison or buy beef roasts on sale and slice them myself. Not sure why anyone would go to the trouble of grinding the meat, THEN forming it into strips and drying it. Must be a regional thing.
Teeth! Jerky shooters allow those with plates to bite off a piece without picking their teeth off the floor! Also allows the meat to better absorb the flavors of marinades and cures.
I've always used the oven to make my jerky for the boys. I make so much it would take several loads in the dehydrator and more time than I have...
I just take strips of meat that have marinated in the frig overnight, poke a toothpick in the end of each or buy the shishkabob sticks from the Dollar Store and put several on each stick then hang on the oven racks to dry a little on the counter. I use four liter bottles at each corner of the rack, tin foil underneath to catch any drips. After they've hung for about four hours and the drying process has begun, I put the racks in the oven at its lowest temp (about 165) crack the door a little and let hang for about 5-8 hours, depending on thickness..
Stored in the refrig in a large pickle jar with an oxygen absorber. Hubby and boys love to take a pack when they're out in the woods. If you'd like, I'll share my recipe.. Reb
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving well-preserved, but to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, and still screaming, Whoo! What a ride!
Just don't feed this homemade jerky to the elderly, very young (unlikely anyway) and the immune suppressed. Food borne illness can go to the brain and cause a brain event, kill you or paralyze your limbs. And don't laugh it off and say it will never happen. It happened to me.