from the July 1986 "Drying Times "

by Barb Moody

Question: "I love the fruits, vegetables and jerky I have made using your drying methods. However, Iíve had problems with the meat and would like to know what to do to make it better. I havenít been able to reconstitute it or cook with it. I dried raw beef, chicken and ham. All three remained rock hard - I attempted reconstitution two different ways Ė both soaking in cold water overnight, and by adding directly to the cooking stew.What could I do better?" - D.M. San Mateo, CA

Answer: With the exception of beef and fish jerkies, we recommend cooking your meat before drying. Fresh pork should never be dried raw since the drying temperatures are not high enough to kill harmful bacteria or parasites. Ham and other pork products are quite good when dried. Because of the high fat content, dried pork should be kept for only a short time. Poultry is also better cooked. As you found out, raw poultry becomes very hard when dried. Cooked, it is more flavorful and suitable for using in recipes. Cooking meats before drying also improves storing quality and length of storage time.

NOTE from 2004: Due to the many things happening out in the wide world, we now recommend cooking all meats before drying.