Jul 6, 2023
Bacon is a versatile food that makes your breakfast, salads, and pasta dishes come to life. That salty, slightly sweet flavor goes so well with just about anything. Wouldn’t it be great to bring bacon anywhere and not worry about spoiled meat? Unfortunately, regular dehydrating doesn’t work well because bacon turns rancid after a while. Here’s how to freeze dry bacon so you can have it with you even if you don’t have a freezer.
If you’re new to freeze drying and have asked around, you probably would have heard this: fat, lard, or oil don’t freeze dry well. And if you’ve had experience with freeze drying, you might have encountered meat parts that didn’t freeze dry well because of fat. But freeze-drying bacon is possible, just like freeze-drying peanut butter is possible.
You might be thinking: “Hey, wouldn’t that mean I’ll cut out the fat?”
Don’t worry. You won’t be taking out the fat in your bacon. In a way, you are, but there won’t be trimming-down-to-nothing severe preparation. To prepare your bacon for freeze-drying, you’ll need the following:
You need to cook the bacon to take out as much oil and fat as possible. This is crucial for pork bacon as well as turkey bacon. The same would go for plant-based bacon, especially if you got one that renders its own fat when you cook it.
To lessen the oil, we need to render off the fat without it drenching the meat. We do this by baking the bacon down.
The secret here is to get out as much oil as possible without cutting out the fat. Frying won’t work because it drenches the bacon in oil. This acts like a protective coating that prevents water from coming out.
Since we’re dealing with meat, freezing is certainly advised. This ensures that every drop of water in each cell in the meat turns to ice. Although the freeze dryer’s temperature is colder, deep freezers can help make freeze drying more efficient.
The ice molecules produced, though, are quite big and can ruin the structure of the meat. Still, it helps to make freeze drying faster, and the change in texture is still acceptable for some. If you use this method, use the freeze-dryer trays for convenience. Line the trays with parchment paper and place the strips of meat.
For this reason, professional companies use food-grade liquid nitrogen to freeze food. Also called flash-freezing, using liquid nitrogen instantly freezes food, retaining its shape and color almost perfectly. But food-grade liquid nitrogen is quite expensive, so the next best thing is to use dry ice.
For the dry ice, you follow a 1:1 ratio. For 1lb of food, you need to use 1lb of dry ice. A cooler with a few holes on top will help as well. The cooler maintains the freezing temperature, while the holes serve as an escape for carbon dioxide. If you don’t put holes in, the cooler will explode.
Now that you got the fat out, it’s time to freeze-dry them.
Harvest Right recommends 7 hours of drying time (and 9 hours of freezing time if your meat’s not frozen.) But the hours can still take longer depending on how much oil and fat is left on the meat. If you’re going to freeze dry raw bacon, you’ll find that 38 hours isn’t enough, and you still get “wet” bacon. For cooked bacon, give or take 24-36 hours total drying time.
The bacon should be dry and crumbly, like ones cooked to a crispy consistency. The only difference is the slices will be airy and crunchy to the touch. If you feel any strips are still soft and a bit cool and wet, extend the freeze-drying time to 2-4 hours.
You can store freeze-dried strips in Mylar bags. Place them inside and seal them with an oxygen absorber or two, depending on the bag’s size. As a rule, use one to two 300cc oxygen absorbers in a one-gallon Mylar bag. What’s great about Mylar bags is that they’re light and don’t take up much space. So, imagine bringing your homemade freeze-dried bacon on trips like camping and hiking without worrying about space and weight.
Another way is to use Mason jars and use a vacuum sealer. This way, you can take out slices of bacon on demand. The only downside is they take up room, heavy, and can break if you drop it.
Keep the bags or jars in a draft-free, dark room with temperatures not going above 72°F (22 °C).
If your freeze-dried bacon is pre-cooked, you can eat it as it is. If you want to reheat, spritz the slices with water or wrap them in paper towels. Then let them sit for 5-10 minutes, or about 20-30 if the weather’s cool.
But if you freeze-dried raw, you can reconstitute it by letting it sit in a bowl of water for 5-15 minutes.
The good thing about meat is that it only takes in what it needs. Of course, you don’t want to waterlog your food, no one wants that, right? But when it comes to bacon, a little goes a long way. You can soak longer if you want softer meat or for less if you want that extra crunch.
Freeze-dried bacon can last for 10-15 years when prepared and stored properly. It doesn’t last as long as other freeze-dried food because of its fat content. But after all that preparation, having it is all worth it.
Now that you know the basics, how would you freeze-dry your bacon differently? Let us know in the comment section.
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