Can you Freeze Dry Beef? Absolutely you can. Learn how to prepare and freeze dry pot roast, rolled roast, hamburger and steaks both cooked and raw right here. If you have soup bones, or stew meat making a Beef stew from scratch and freeze drying it is another way to store a heathy nutritious meal that is easy to rehydrate and eat on the trail. How you prep the meat, both raw and cooked, affect the freeze dry time and the end products you have to store after freeze drying. Let’s get into it!
I use my Harvest Right Pro Medium size freeze dryer. Whatever freeze dryer you own will do beef products with the proper preparation. The thing about beef is the fat and bone content. Freeze dryers cannot freeze dry fat well, or bone. So in order to get the best results and longest shelf life out of your beef, you will need to prep it correctly. This will vary depending on what cuts of beef and how fatty they are.
How to Freeze Dry Beef:
All my beef is from our grass fed, farm raised, local beef. Grass fed beef is a really great choice for freeze drying since it is naturally very lean. TIP: To freeze dry beef that is heavily marbled, like grain fed steaks or roasts you definitely want to cook them before you freeze dry to reduce that fat in the meat.
Steaks and Roasts:
It is quite simple to freeze dry beef. Once you get used to thinking about it you can work this right in with your meal prep for the day. It just takes a bit more beef and a little more time in your recipe creation.
Preparation for Freeze Drying:
- Roasts: I cook fatty roasts, like pot roast in my instant pot and allow the fat to cook off and then separate the meat from the bone and remaining fat pieces and shred the meat. This makes a tender and delicious shredded beef. When you also add cooked onions, spices and peppers to the meat it’s a great filling for Phili Cheese Sandwiches, sliders, or a good meat base for a skillet dinner. Whatever method you use to cook your roasts, make sure they are falling off the bone tender for easy shredding. For leaner roasts you can slice them, raw or cooked, into thin (1 inch thick or less) pieces so they freeze dry well and once hydrated make a good dinner.
- Steaks: Cut off all the external fat and debone the steak into serving sized pieces before freeze drying. You can freeze dry steaks raw, Wash your hands and use safe handling practices since freeze drying raw meat will NOT kill bacteria. Once the meat is completely freeze dried the meat is safe from accumulating or growing bacteria until it is rehydrated. Treat the rehydrated meat just like fresh raw meat for food safety. You may also cook your steak before freeze drying. But then cut away all the fat and bone before freeze drying.
- Once prepped, lay all your meat on the freeze dryer trays. For beef shreds fill the tray to the top. For steak pieces or roast slices, lay the pieces on the tray but don’t allow the pieces to touch for the most even drying. TIP: To minimize the drying time cut the pieces or slices so they are about the same size and thicknesses. Plan on your freeze dryer needing around 24 hours of drying time for pre-frozen steak pieces about an inch thick by 2 or 3 inches wide.
- Pre-Freeze: Another great method to bring down the time in your freeze dryer is to pre-freeze your meat. I stack mine in trays with lids in my chest freezer for 12 to 24 hours and then set up the freeze dryer.
A note on cutting up your steaks and roasts: This may seem like a horrible thing to do to you. If you are a steak lover and have only the highest quality marbled meats and love to grill them, keep them and do just that. Freeze drying will not improve the steak. This process is best for your leaner, tougher steaks and roasts. After rehydrating steaks, they may need a round with your tenderizing hammer. They will still taste good, and the texture holds pretty well, but don’t expect it to be as good as fresh.
How to Freeze Dry Ground Beef:
Like Other beef cuts, ground beef can be freeze dried raw or cooked. However, cooking ground beef before freeze drying has advantages. Raw hamburger can be very fatty. Since the fat is ground right into the beef, cooking is the only way to render it out. Freeze drying raw high fat meats takes a LONG time (several days) and the shelf life will shorten, depending on how high in the fat the ground beef is.
I cook about 2 pounds of hamburger for each tray I’m planning to fill. I may try up to three but for packaging I like each tray making two 1 lb. bags of cooked beef. For raw hamburger 2 lbs will fit on one tray, but not much more than that.
When you cook the hamburger, you can also choose to cook it plain without spices and other add ins so it will work in any recipe, OR you can add spices to create a flavor profile that works well for your favorite recipes. For example, you can add Italian seasonings, garlic and onions to create a base for lasagna, spaghetti sauce or other mediterranean dishes. You can also use Mexican seasonings for taco meat, enchilada filling or other spicy dishes you love. Ground beef is so easy to reimagine with seasonings.
Once the hamburger is cooked or prepped, just lay it out on your trays. Pre-freeze it if you want to reduce the drying time and then freeze dry according to your freeze dryer machine instructions.
For full trays of cooked beef expect a day in the freeze dryer when you refreeze the meat. For raw, add another day.
Other Freeze Dry Beef to Try:
You can freeze dry, bone broth, beef stews, and even entire beef recipes, like hamburger soup, spaghetti, and endless other recipes you enjoy. Just make the recipe, freeze dry and store. Its really quite simple to do and you’ll have lots of choices in your larder for the family camping trips, dinners at home or emergency meals.
How to Store Freeze Dried Meats:
Freeze dry beef products store best in mylar bags. Mylar is a thick material lined with metal to protect your freeze dry beef for many years when properly done.
After the freeze drying process is complete, you need to store your freeze dry beef in mylar bags with Oxygen absorbers. I use an impulse sealer to seal my bags, but a chamber sealer and some vacuum sealers also work well with mylar bags.
LABEL your bags with raw or cooked so you know if you have to cook the meat before eating it. Also add the name of what you have in the bag. Example: cooked hamburger, or Taco meat filling, etc. And add the date you bagged it.
For complete accuracy in recipes it’s also nice to add the net weight of your beef. To do this you need a kitchen scale with a tare function. Weigh the bag and hit the tare button. Now weigh the filled bag. That should be the net weight of your beef product.
Store the bag in a cool dark place and use the FIFO (first in, first out) inventory use system to keep your freeze dried foods fresh.
To Rehydrate Freeze Dried Meat:
Freeze dry Beef is very simple to rehydrate but it can take some time if you’re rehydrating a large chunk of meat. Plan. to immerse your beef cut into water and set it in your fridge 12 hours or so before you need to cook or use it in a recipe. You can use beef stock, marinades and other flavored juicy products to add even more flavor to the meat as it sucks up the moisture and distributes it right through the meat.
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