Open Country Food Dehydrator
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If you have a chance to make your own jerky in the Bass Pro's Food Dehydrator, you will never go back to buying the stuff in a plastic cellophane bag at a supermarket. You can mix your own ingredients, with no harmful additives or preservatives, for a fraction of the cost of the commercial jerky. All natural dried bananas, apples, pineapples and apricots will be a fun addition to your pantry. Here are a few tips to make your experience just perfect.
Slice your material into about 1/8-inch slices. If you are slicing meat, it helps to freeze it for about an hour to firm it up so you can have nice, straight cuts. Juicier items like tomatoes and pineapples can be left thicker, but they will take a little longer to dry.
Trim off any unwanted parts like the core in apples, the stems in herbs or the fat and gristle in meat. Any toughness present before drying will be more accentuated by drying, so start with tender meat.
Flavor your ingredients, if necessary. Meat should be marinated overnight in a simple dry rub of salt, pepper, paprika and brown sugar. Add more spices if you like it spicier. Fruits can be mixed with a little lemon juice to keep their color and add a bit of tartness.
Layer the ingredients in the dehydrator. Start with the bottom rack and lay the slices flat and not touching one another. Air will need to circulate around it to remove the moisture.
Put the cover on the dehydrator and turn it on. It will warm up initially to about 130 degrees and then will gradually increase in warmth. Expect meat and thick vegetables to take about 12 hours. The longer the ingredients stay in the dehydrator, the crispier they will get.
Store your dried foods in tightly covered containers or Ziploc bags so no air or moisture can get in and cause spoilage.