Let’s say you have a lot of dried meat, jerky, properly stored and preserved for your family’s needs and it is now time to pull it out and use it. Are you going to hand your family a hard piece of dried meat and let them chew on it or are you going to use it in a prepared recipe? Chewy jerky is great, for a snack or an occasional meal but, softening the meat by putting liquid back into it and approximating its original texture is what you really want to do with dried meat.
For larger amounts of dried meat:
Place the dried meat in a metal pan or glass bowl.
Pour boiling water over the meat on about a 1:1 ratio. You don’t want to use more water than can be absorbed as you’ll lose nutrients into the soaking liquid. If you do have liquid left over that is not reabsorbed, add it to your meal somewhere else – don’t throw it away.
It takes up to about 4 hours to completely rehydrate dried meat. Your desired texture may be reached before that, so check the meat frequently. If you want complete re-hydration you should consider refrigerating the meat and water after the first 2 hours to keep any bacterial problems to a minimum.
For re-hydrating small portions of dried meat:
Treat the meat jerky much like you would dried mushrooms and soak it in water, wine or broth for about a half hour until the meat absorbs some of the liquid. This should take some of the chewiness out of the meat and make its texture more like it was before it was dehydrated.
For re-hydrating ground meat:
If you have time to re-hydrate with cool water then it needs to sit for about an hour or a hour and a half to properly absorb.
If you use hot water, then it should be finished within 10-15 minutes. Some indication that the hot water can cause the meat to take on a rubbery feel.
Liquids for re-hydration
Liquids to rehydrate meat in: Broth, water, fruit juice, beer, wine or milk – if it is liquid and safe to drink then it’ll probably work to re-hydrate your meat.
After dried meats are reconstituted with fluids you must remember that they must be eaten or refrigerated after a couple of hours. Re-hydrated meats are subject to bacterial contamination and cannot be kept at room temperature for long periods like the dry meat can.