Does anyone know how a professional meat dehydrator works?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by theswede, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    Hi, I'm new here and I've read a good deal of nice advices on the forum, thanks!

    I'm playing with the idea of making jerky on a larger scale. So about the oven, how does it heat? Is it with fans, or heat elements similar to a regular oven? Anyone got any first hand experience?
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2014
  2. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    After some research I found that Excalibur uses a heating element and fans as depicted in this photo:


    So for a bigger tray you'll need two fans next to each other. and multiple fans if your oven is big. One big fan 2m diameter might be a bit hefty [​IMG]

    Any other design ideas?
     
  3. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hi,

    I've been making jerky for years and the number of friend I have usually increases when words gets out that I mad a batch. I've been told I should sell it at farmers markets but that's to much work.  lol

    I have made as much as 20-30 pounds in one batch.  to be specific, there are normally 3 or 4 different recipes but I can dehydrate them all in one bacth.

    When you say professional dehydrator how many pounds of meat are you thinking of dehydrating?

    I used the blackndecker models when I first started out.  They were terrible.  They took 3 -4 times as long and they didn't hold much.

    Here is a link to the unit I have.

    http://www.meatprocessingproducts.com/negaprodefd.html?gclid=CKa85Yma2b8CFUNgMgodt2gAZQ

    My unit came with 4 trays and is expandable to 20.  I believe I have 20 trays and have never filled them all.  My unit is electric and works with a fan and a heat element.  It has a thermostat that adjust from 95 degrees up to 155 (or 160 can't remember) degrees.  What I do is shift the trays around every hour or 2.  Some trays will finish cooking before others.  you have to monitor it.  I could recommend this unit more.  It's 20 years old and still works great.

    I hope this helps.  please feel free to ask anything you like if you have more questions.

    You will love your jerky.

    Good luck,

    Rob
     
  4. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hi,

    I've been making jerky for years and the number of friend I have usually increases when words gets out that I mad a batch. I've been told I should sell it at farmers markets but thats to much work.  lol

    I have made as much as 20-30 pounds in one batch.  to be specific, there are normally 3 or 4 different recipes but I can dehydrate them all in one bacth.

    When you say professional dehydrator how many pounds of meat are you thinking of?

    I used the blackndecker models when I first started out.  They were terrible.  They took 3 -4 times as long and they didn't hold much.

    Here is a link to the unit I have.

    http://www.meatprocessingproducts.com/negaprodefd.html?gclid=CKa85Yma2b8CFUNgMgodt2gAZQ

    My unit came with 4 trays and is expnadable to 30.  I believe I have 20 trays and have never filled them all.  My unit is electric and works with a fan and a heat element.  The fan is on the bottom.  It has a themostat that adjust from 95 degrees up to 155 (or 160 can't remember) degrees.  What I do is shift the trays around every hour or 2.  Some trays will finsh cooking before others.  you have to monitor it.  I could recommend this unit more.  It's 20 years old and still works great.

    I hope this helps.  please feel free to ask anything you like if you have more questions.

    You will love your jerky.

    Good luck,

    Rob
     
  5. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    Thanks for the reply! 

    I was thinking more like the Excalibur with the trays as the picture down below. Your cylinder-dryer looks good with nice setting for temperature! What I've seen has the excalibur 4 fans on the back and a heat coil running in front of them. I'll try to build something similar! If I only want it to 140F the heat source could come from a simple indoor floor heater.

     
  6. IMHO The optimal way to make jerky would be blowing dehydrated cooled air over the meat. Heat changes the texture. You don't want to cook the meat, you just want to remove the moisture.

    I would cold smoke for flavor then dehydrate it.

    Now the food police will jump all over this and I doubt you could do it commercially, but if the meat is cured you really don't want warm moist air going over it, you want cool dry air that will suck all of the moisture from the meat.
     
  7. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    Yeah, I would agree. It's a time fact thing I guess. What you think about drying it cold and then heating it in an oven 270F for 10mins to kill the germs? I'll experiment.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  9. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    Sweden has a limit of 150mg nitrit/1kg meat that doesn't kill [EDIT: some of the] pathogens, only botulism and some other possible bacteria grows. 

    How would you cure it to be safe about e-coli and salmonella? I've red vinegar could be a way, but I'm afraid it will infuse in the flavour.  
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  10. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    OH, I didn't realize you were planning to build a dehydrator.  That is pretty cool.  With that said, the Excalibur style is definitely the way I would go.  Good luck and please post pictures as you build.
     
  11. Let me restate this.  The FDA suggest that meat be heated to 160 degrees before dehydrating the meat to make it safe.  This is the only way to make "safe" Jerky.

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/co...13aad1e/Jerky_and_Food_Safety.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

    Now my opinion which will not produce safe jerky is that meat that has been properly handled,  e-coli and salmonella are a very minor risk.  Of course this is assuming that the place the meat was originally processed it handled it properly and the place that sold it to you handled it properly.

    Originally jerky was dried in the sun, and maybe next to the fire.  There are still Forts and Camps out here in the West where they make it this way and use it in the re-enactments.
     
  12. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    The risk of salmonella and E-coli are small in Swedish meat. And if buying it from a trusted source the risk is minimal. 

    Though I rather be safe then sorry, if I go commercial.

    What way to you think is best to get it to 160? In my head it's a speedy one, so the cooking process doesn't start. 400F oven for 5min with 5mm slaps of meat?

    This is easily tested of course, but always good to hear other opinions.  

    Yeah, the Samis here in Sweden have been making jerky for ages. Though it it very tough an they haven't understood the idea of adding spices except salt :) 
     
  13. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Swede,  The dehydrator that I use goes up to 160 on the thermostat.  I've been doing beef and venison only and have never had a problem.  If you can find out the heat element in that unit I think it would work great for your box design since the unit I use can be extended to 30 trays which is about 3 feet high.  It must use a strong heating unit to be able to dry that far away from the source.  Did I make sense? 
     
  14. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    Yeah I get you. The inner temperature of the jerky need to be 160F to kill it all. Keeping the heater on 160, the meat, at least in the higher trays, will have a hard time reaching internal 160 degrees. At least in a quick way. But this is just morning speculations :) I'll have to try it out when I get back home.
     
  15. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Your comment goes back to wht I mentioned about how I use my vertical dehydrator.  I switch the rays around as the meat i cooked.  If you did that with your design that might work.  I'm still ery impressed that you are building your own dehydrator.  Very cool.
     
  16. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    I'll post some updates. It might take time as I need to find the scrap on the way :D
     
  17. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    Btw, I've been wondering who the beef jerky costumers are? I've never been to the states, so I haven't understood the culture. I imagine it being eaten by a big middle-aged man, drinking beer and going on hunting trips. Am I correct? ;) 
     
  18. canadianbacon

    canadianbacon Fire Starter

    Have you looked at the big cheif smoker? There cheap and made for jerky, decent size, I have 2 now and have been smoking and drying salmon and fish for 7 years in them, I also cold smoke in them. I would imagin once you buy the racks for making one it would be pretty expensive unless you can find free oven racks, Youll want stainless steel so they last and are easy to clean. Also you need to controlle the temperature so it dosen't cook the meat or you wont have jerky, youll need a thermo probe and probaly a controller. Then make sure you have proper ventilation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  19. theswede

    theswede Newbie

    A smoker would be awesome. But at the moment I don't have the facilities for it (room mate would go bananas). So a Excalibur-style dehydrator is what I'm making. This is mostly for experimenting with different heat settings, spices, moisture etc.  
     
  20. rob sicc

    rob sicc Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Swede,

    I have been shocked by people that have eaten my jerky and told me they love jerky.  I think middle aged men are a primary group of people that would by this but my 7 and 10 year old daughters love it as do their friends.  My doctor, a middle age woman told me that she loved beef jerky.  I'ver had almost as many women like it as men.  You will be surprised.
     

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