Shelf life of fatty dried ground beef
Jun 29, 2013 at 9:09 am #1304754
I just picked up 3 pounds of organic, grass-fed, ground beef. It has a claimed 20% fat content. On a backpack trip I'm happy to consume that fatty goodness…
Conventional wisdom says to remove meat fat as much as possible before dehydrating. I was planning to fry the beef, simmer a few minutes in stock, then refrigerate so I could remove the fat that floats up. After that drain and dehydrate into "gravel".
Is rinsing the fat out really necessary? From my reading, spoilage in dehydrated meat fats is mostly rancidity caused by oxidation. Do any of you experts know if vacuum sealing would the meat give at least 4 weeks' backpacking shelf life? Do I just need to be worried about bad flavors (rancidity) or more dangerous stuff?
I plan to season the meat with 1 TB McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning per pound which will add 270 mg. sodium per 2 ounce portion of meat.
Thanks in advance,
JimJun 29, 2013 at 10:09 am #2000821Heather HohnholzBPL Member
My understanding is that the primary concern about the fat is indeed the rancidity. If you're planning on consuming relatively quickly, you should be fine. That being said, the fat does inhibit dehydration, so you may need to take that into account with your dry times. In my experience, meat rocks (aka dehydrated hamburger) don't rehydrate very well. I had much better luck when I mixed some (I dunno, 1/2C per lb?) dried breadcrumbs in with the already-browned burger before dehydrating. I tried to drain off most of the fat, but didn't do any of the rinsing etc that some others talk about. Seemed to work very well. YMMVJun 29, 2013 at 10:29 am #2000831Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Oh crap, really? How long will dehydrated ground beef "gravel" keep? I've got two pounds in the dehydrator now for my 3-week JMT trip. Should I not send it in my resupply packages??Jun 29, 2013 at 10:48 am #2000837
I was planning to mix in Panko crumbs before cooking. Do you think after works as well? Good point about fat inhibiting drying. Maybe I'll try to remove it after all.
Chef Glenn was my source for the bread crumb idea: http://www.backpackingchef.com/dehydrating-meat.html
Jennifer: I think you are probably starting about the same time as us: July 29 if I can get a walk-up permit the day before (get in line at 4:00 am for the 11:00 distribution). If you follow Muir Trail Ranch's latest advice they say send it 2 weeks in advance via Priority Mail. It may get hot on the way, but once at MTR they keep the buckets in a cool stone building- unless they are quite busy then the overflow goes outside (surrounded by electrified fence to keep bears away).
I plan to make the "gravel", then vacuum seal and freeze until ready to mail.Jun 29, 2013 at 11:49 am #2000851Jun 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm #2000857Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I've never had the nerve to try to dehydrate any meat other than very lean meat.
Many of us seem to get plenty of saturated fat as it is, so I try to stick with lean meat. Rancid meat doesn't seem very appealing.
–B.G.–Jun 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm #2000860Jun 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm #2000862Renais ABPL Member
In my experience, if you do not remove the fat before dehydrating, you can end up with three issues later. 1) The fat seems to inhibit the drying process. This is not very surprising since a layer of fat on the meat will block moisture movement out of the meat. 2) I found that meat that was dehydrated with the fat became rancid within a week, and had such a foul smell that it was not edible. 3) Meat that is dehydrated with the fat is much harder to rehydrate. Again, I think this is due to the layer of fat inhibiting the movement of water, this time into the meat.
I brown my meat and then quickly rinse it in hot water. The resulting product dehydrates readily. When I cook hamburger helper with it, I don't even bother to soak it first; it goes in with the cooking water and everything is cooked at once. The resulting product is hard for me to distinguish from that made with fresh meat. Regarding adding bread crumbs: I would consider that very carefully. You would be adding a material that is much more likely to absorb moisture in storage that the meat on its own would. In addition, you are providing an inviting substrate for mold and other interesting things to grow. Dry meat on its own is as attractive a growth medium for bacteria and mold.
JimJun 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm #2000874
Thank you all for the wise counsel.
I will defat the meat after cooking with my initial proposal- simmer in broth to cover, chill, lift off fat, drain, dry.Jun 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm #2000890Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Ok. I'm being VERY dense here. Humor me.
I have 92% lean ground beef, browned. Drained. Stirred and drained again. I did NOT rinse it :(
It is currently dehydrating into nice, small gravel.
I did this before and it worked like a champ – it was awesome actually. But now I'm worried that I shouldn't put this in my JMT resupply boxes because I won't be able to control the temp in transit, and it will sit unrefridgerated for about 2-3 weeks. I do NOT have a vacuum sealer.
Should I just take a few baggies worth for the first food leg and give up on putting it in my resupplies??Jun 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm #2000892Jun 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm #2000894Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"you can invest in a dehydrator like the ones for beef jerky."
"Best to do this in the winter, because the summer it makes the house an inferno."
In the winter months, I do almost 100% of my home heating just with the food dehydrator running every evening.
–B.G.–Jun 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm #2000902Renais ABPL Member
I would not worry about the temperatures in transit, or the time before you pick up your resupply. I've found that without the fat the dried meat stays good for quite a few weeks. I would just dry it as you are, and put it in ziplocks. Have fun on the hike!
JimJul 9, 2013 at 7:42 am #2004042YoyoBPL Member
@dgpostonLocale: NYC metro
I'm a little confused by some of your posts. When you mention that you are rinsing the ground beef, is that before or after adding seasoning? The concern would be that if you add the seasoning (dry or wet) to the beef and then cook, rinsing afterwards, you are going to lose all that seasoning down the drain. It seems then the only option is to add the seasoning afterwards. But then it's hard to get the seasoning to blend because all the fat is removed. What to do?
Another worry is if you are doing some sort of casserole, how will you drain the fat?
For instance, I was thinking of doing this recipe here:
Sarah, do you have any thoughts on this?Jul 31, 2013 at 11:09 pm #2011387Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
I just ate some Chili mac that i made LAST summer(2012) on the wonderland trail a few weeks ago. it looked, smelled and tasted fine and didn't get sick…
For prep I browned it well, rinsed it, chopped it in a food processor and browned it a little more and then added it to the Chili Mac..Sep 13, 2021 at 11:12 am #3727267ThomasBPL Member
@thomas51Locale: Rainy Pacific Northwest
I don’t think it’s the fat (beef tallow) that would go rancid, since tallow is room temperature stable (seed oils are not – and those are the fats that quickly go rancid). Most likely it’s the meat that goes south. I used Chef Glenn’s approach with bread crumbs/ panco/ or coconut flour and only quickly blotted the hamburger with paper towels, then froze the dehydrated hamburger, then right before going out, added it to zip loc packages with dehydrated onions, zucchinis, sun-dried tomatoes etc, and then for supper boiled one minute, and let steep for 10 minutes. This worked well. I would like to use a different meat source though, like flank steak, or NY strip steak — I would cook it, dry it, then pulverize it with a blender. Has anyone tried this?Sep 14, 2021 at 8:50 am #3727346Ben WBPL Member
Never dried meat dust.! (I’m sure everyone being aware-but Ill write it anyway) Ground beef simply being trimmings, leftovers and areas not suitable for good cuts that bring a higher price, there would be no reason it wouldn’t work just the same as putting some cooked, dried ground beef in a blender. Might try that first and see how the texture works out.
Back before the freeze drier, I had tried the ground beef gravel- blended with dried bread crumbs. It did seem to work ok, and I didn’t notice a (very) short shelf life.
Just my input on Beef fat (Again just incase someone doesn’t already know)– “Tallow” is the beef version of lard, not pure fat off a cow. Pure or “fresh” fat is NOT shelf stable, try it sometime if you need to know for sure :D
As with pig fat, (and butter), cooking it down separates most of the “not shelf stable” items allowing it to keep much longer.
If I was planning meals for a long trip, (and didn’t own a freeze drier), I’d consider buying freeze dried ground beef to separate up into all the meals. I’ve seem a few websites that the prices weren’t all that crazy. After the work of cooking, draining, mixing with breadcrumbs, drying, etc, and the costs are considered, its probably not a bad option. Plus its not gravel!
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