Drying Meat Without a Dehydrator

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by J.G. Martinez

I have some concerns about what my boy and I are going to find when we return to Venezuela. I expect there will be a massive amount of people returning. There will likely be isolation (concentration?) camps. In these camps, the meals are scarce and lack nutrition. My son and I are used to eating properly these last couple of years. We have not been eating fancy meals, but at the very least, the meals are complete. 

Food is an absolute necessity. We all know this. When it comes to prepping, making sure you have what is needed to sustain you, and those with you is crucial. Being in isolation could make it quite hard for us to get the nutrition we need. So, I have been thinking of ways to make sustainable foods that I can keep with us in case of isolation. 

How will you make sure you have the food you need?

Learning about nutrition is something I have been doing lately, and I have been using this knowledge to review the types of food I have in my stock. I have learned that our bodies need certain minerals to develop and function normally. Minerals essential for health include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.

Making sure we have the foods that will replace those minerals is extremely important.

My goal is to fill a backpack with enough dry food to keep me and kiddo well-fed for up to 2 1/2 weeks. 

Dehydrating food without a dehydrator

We do not preserve food in Venezuela, except in very remote places. It was something lost in the shadows of the pre-refrigeration era. So, being the engineer that I am, I decided I would make a dehydrator. After all, if I can make it, I am NOT paying for an already built one. 

My first idea was to use silica gel as an element to dry something in a bowl covered with a glass lid. No Bueno. Getting silica gel is a pain unless I go to a shoe store and ask for some there.

Then I remembered that rice, charcoal, and salt are highly hygroscopic. Meaning they have a great affinity with water. I had all of these items on hand.

Experiment 1

I put 1 cup (1/4kg) rice in a frying pan on my stove with a low flame. Then I took the steak I had, chopped it up, and salted both sides. But, not too much. 

Without having a “drying machine” other than the Peruvian spring sun, this was the perfect opportunity for me to experiment. I made a rice bed about 1 cm thick on the bottom of my stainless steel pot and threw in a charcoal piece to absorb moisture.

Before placing the pot outside, I covered the lid’s plastic handle with a toilet paper layer, then some regular printing paper, and aluminum foil. That was to protect the handle from the UV. (Yes, I’m that kind of guy, I know it, and I like the way I am). 

The pot was left for six hours in the full sun. I went to check a couple of times and wiped off the excess moisture inside. When I checked for the third time, not a single drop of moisture was condensed inside the lid. I have to mention: there was no place the moisture could get out of the pot. I made sure there was no way a fly could get in and do whatever Nature tells it to do.  

Now it was time to cover the rice bed with aluminum foil and place the meat on top. Again, it went out in the full sun for 12 to 14 hours. The result was two little pieces of leathery stuff, but you could tear it apart with your fingers. 

Try it. You’ll like it.

Being the nice Dad that I am, I did not ask my boy to try it first. I tried the meat first. I was the “guinea pig,” as they say, for my experiment. 

The meat was quite good, I must say. It didn’t taste like a homemade meal, but it did taste like meat. It was quite salty, of course. My feeling is, it needed some more aeration. 

Now the most exciting part of the experiment, at least for me. My son has always been selective about what he eats. He took a little piece I gave him and suddenly asked for more. 

I was surprised by this. My boy often rejects foods because of the way they look. And without even asking, he ate half of the meat I had prepared. I had prepared enough for at least a month. He just opened the plastic bag I had stored it in, got some bread, and start chewing.

More experimenting with different ingredients

I went and got some more ingredients and came up with a recipe of my own. I have not done it yet, so I do not have the result. But, I am looking forward to seeing if kiddo likes this one as much as that dry stuff he ate nearly half of. 

These are the additional ingredients I got: 

  • Red pepper (1 Tsp)
  • Oregano (1 Tsp)
  • Salt (1 Tsp)
  • Sugar ( 1 tsp)

I will place the lean meat in a small container and make sure these ingredients cover all the meat. Then I will give it another try with the help of the sun. 

After that first experiment, I bought a few items to put together a different setup with a glass piece. I hope to use fruits with this set to make high energy snacks. 

More experiments to come and a menu of isolation food

I have been putting together a menu for the few weeks we will have to be in isolation. So far, the menu includes foods like oatmeal, dry beans, rice, pasta, dried tomatoes, garlic, onion, and herbs.

Once the “drying” experiments with lean meat are a success, I will start with pork. I am a bit hesitant to use the port around here. But if I use the ham they call “Ham of the Country” because it is soaked with nitrites, it should be ok. 

Updates to follow on the experimentation.  Do you dry meat without a dehydrator? How do you do it? Please let me know in the comments.

Thank you for your continued support. We truly appreciate it. 

Stay tuned!

Jose

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

J.G. Martinez D

About the Author

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

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