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Rehydrating Beef Jerky: A How-to Guide

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Beef jerky is a tremendously tasty and popular treat! The best varieties are nutritious as well.

But – since beef jerky is a dehydrated delicacy, it can become dry and stiff after idling for too long. When this happens, it isn’t always necessary to throw your jerky in the garbage can.

If you want to learn the best strategies for rehydrating beef jerky – then read this article! We have a ton of experience rehydrating jerky and experimenting with several jerky recipes! And, we’re happy to share some of our best jerky rehydration insights with you!

We’re about to brainstorm straightforward and borderline-genius ways of rehydrating beef jerky that you may not be aware of – and they can save you a lot of money over time.

If your beef jerky seems inedible, below are some tricks that you can use to bring it back to life so it can become tasty and edible once again.

These are our best tips!

Use the Microwave

The microwave is your best friend as a jerky connoisseur!

Here’s why.

You can use the microwave to help rehydrate your jerky in one of several ways. Sometimes, it’s as easy as tossing a few flanks of prepared jerky in the microwave for a few moments.

But – not so fast!

There are two critical things to remember! Otherwise – you risk ruining your jerky!

Firstly, you have to use a little bit of water along with the jerky itself. Second, you shouldn’t cover the top of the container so that it’s airtight.

In other words – always leave a little bit of air when placing the lid on the container.

When it comes to microwaving, you don’t have to place the water in the container itself along with the jerky. Instead – place the jerky on a plate, then put a small cup of water right next to the plate holding your jerky

Or, you can wet a paper towel – (make sure to wring the towel and remove excess water.) Then, place the towel on top of the beef jerky.

When you microwave the jerky, you’ll want to microwave on high for one minute at a time until the jerky is the right consistency. If you microwave the jerky longer than a few minutes at a time, it might start to get tough again!

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Soaking the Jerky

The soaking method takes a little longer than the microwave method, but it’s low-maintenance because all you do is completely submerge the beef jerky in liquid.

Then, you wait! 

Wait for 15 to 30 minutes for your jerky to soften up a bit. You can use broth, water, soup, or even wine! The main concern is to ensure that every portion of the jerky gets submerged under your liquid of choice.

If you boil or warm the liquid first, your jerky may soften in under 15 minutes. If you pour and use the liquid at room temperature, you’ll need to give your jerky roughly 30 minutes instead.

After you remove the jerky from the water, place it on a paper towel. Then, let the jerky absorb any excess moisture before doing anything else. If your jerky still feels a little hard for your taste, you can always place it in the water again and let it soak a little longer.

Soaking is one of my favorite methods to rehydrate jerky because it’s fast, simple, and almost always works. Plus – you can get imaginative! Try soaking your jerky in flavored liquids or wines – which is a fun way to express your culinary creativity!

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Cook the Jerky with Noodles

Here’s how you can rehydrate your jerky and enjoy the fruits of your labor immediately after. Rehydrate your jerky in style alongside a heaping mound of finely-seasoned noodles! Who says that preppers and homesteaders can’t eat like kings and queens?

Want a quick, savory, and delicious way to soften your jerky – all the while preparing a quick bite to eat at the same time? 

Then try cooking your jerky with noodles!

Starting is easy! Place the jerky into the bowl of noodles before you pour the boiling water.

What you do next is up to you. You can either devour your jerky soup as soon as your jerky softens. Or, you can decide to save some of your now-softened beef jerky for later.

If you have tons of jerky that you want to save – you’ll want to make sure that you take the excess jerky out of the noodles after about 30 minutes to ensure that your jerky doesn’t get too mushy.

In other words, you’ll have to watch the jerky closely if you use this method because you don’t want your jerky getting too soft!

Jerky and noodles make a surprisingly filling meal, especially if you’re out camping or working hard on the homestead! It’s also a fast way to eat if you’re behind schedule and need some quick calories in a hurry.

But, you’ll have to pay attention when preparing just as you would if you were rehydrating the jerky all by itself.

I think jerky and noodles are some of the most underrated snacks – or last-minute meals!

Try adding a dash of soy sauce to your noodles if you don’t have garlic, salt, or pepper flakes.

Alternatively – you can add an overflowing pile of dried herbs from your garden – and freshly shredded parmesan cheese. Yes, please!

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Use the Refrigerator

One of the best-kept secrets in the world of jerky rehydration is that marinades are everything and can hit your jerky with a massive flavor infusion. Try this the next time you rehydrate jerky in your fridge!

Using the refrigerator to help rehydrate jerky is another simple method whenever you want to soften any hardened meat – including beef jerky! 

Starting is easy. Take a resealable bag and place the jerky in the bag, along with either whole or chopped vegetables.

Some of the best veggies to use? I recommend potatoes, celery, and carrots! But, you can use others as well. Use whatever veggies you like – or whatever you have around in your kitchen!

(The water in nearly any veggie will help rehydrate the meat!)

If you don’t want to use vegetables, you have other options to add a dash of moisture. You can take two paper towels, wet them, and then wring them out to remove the excess water. Next, place the towels in the bag with the jerky.

Whether you use paper towels or vegetables, close the resealable bag tightly and place it in the refrigerator, then leave it there overnight.

Relying on the refrigerator is a time-consuming way to rehydrate your beef jerky! But, if you’re patient, you’ll be surprised by how great the jerky will taste in the morning!

Also – marinades can turn your jerky into a flavorful feast!

Brush your jerky with a thick coat of marinade and seasoning. Add fresh ground salt, black pepper, or if you want spice, add a dash of red hot pepper flakes.

If you desire sweet jerky instead? Try brushing on a thick layer – or multiple layers – of fresh maple syrup during the jerky rehydration process.

Please don’t blame me when you get addicted to your now-deliciously soft (and sweet) jerky!

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Sautéing the Jerky

Sautéing your jerky is one of the best ways to salvage your dry beef jerky – or any jerky. Who else wants delicious bacon jerky rehydrated to perfection? Yes, please!

Sautéing your beef jerky is the easiest thing in the world! 

Start by placing sliced onions and the beef jerky in a saucepan and add a little butter or oil. (Yum!)

Next, cover the pan. But – leave a slight opening for air to seep out freely. When heating – flip the jerky from one side to the next quite often.

The longer you sauté the jerky, the softer it will become. You’ll have to keep an eye on your jerky so that it doesn’t sauté for too long and get too soft and mushy – not ideal!

If you’re trying to soften the beef jerky so that you can eat it like a steak, try rehydrating your jerky in water or another liquid first. Then, go ahead with the sauteing method.

Once finished, you can let your jerky cool if you’re aiming for beef jerky. Or, go ahead and serve the jerky with your meal if it’s gotten soft enough to pass as a juicy and succulent steak. Or, even if it’s at least good enough to pass muster!

You can also take your jerky sautéing up a notch with fresh garden ingredients if you want.

Here’s how.

Start by adding a dash of your favorite olive oil, fat, or all-natural butter to your best frying pan. Add some diced onion alongside a tiny pinch of mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, or eggplant.

Also, add your bacon jerky, beef jerky, turkey jerky – or any dehydrated meat to the pan. You may wish to add additional oil depending upon how much roughage and jerky you’re heating!

Or – you can splash some Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce to help moisten your jerky. A little dash of fresh ground black pepper also goes a far way and adds a pleasant hint of flavor!

Marinating the Jerky

Finally, you can marinate your beef jerky using a steak sauce, including Worcestershire or soy sauce. (Soy sauce is criminally underrated on jerky!)

Brush both sides of the jerky generously and allow your jerky to sit for 15 to 20 minutes

Every 15 to 20 minutes, brush your jerky again with more sauce and wait a little longer. 

Keep repeating this procedure until you achieve the consistency you want – which usually takes about an hour.

Let Us Know Your Best-Kept Jerky Rehydration Secrets?

If any undercover culinary gurus are reading this article, we’re begging for your help!

Let us know the best way to rehydrate jerky – and other hardened meats?

What’s the best liquid to use when rehydrating meat and jerky?

Or maybe you have little-known beef jerky seasoning tips you can share?

We’d love to have your feedback, experience, and comments!

Or – if you have questions about the best way to rehydrate jerky – let us know.

We’re happy to help!

Thanks for reading!

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