Can You Dehydrate Raw Bacon? A Comprehensive Guide

Bacon is a beloved food for many. Its smoky, salty, umami flavor can make almost any dish better. Dehydrating bacon can extend its shelf life for months while concentrating its flavor. But can you dehydrate raw, uncooked bacon? Or do you need to cook it first?

In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know about dehydrating raw bacon including

  • The benefits and drawbacks of dehydrating raw bacon
  • Step-by-step instructions for dehydrating raw bacon
  • Proper storage and food safety tips
  • Frequently asked questions

Let’s dive in and find out if and how you can dehydrate raw bacon at home!

Can You Dehydrate Raw Bacon?

The short answer is yes, you can dehydrate raw, uncooked bacon However, it is generally not recommended for food safety reasons

Raw bacon may contain harmful bacteria like salmonella or E. coli. Dehydrating raw bacon does not get hot enough to kill these pathogens. Consuming dehydrated raw bacon could potentially lead to food poisoning.

For this reason, food safety experts advise fully cooking bacon before dehydrating it. The high heat of cooking destroys any dangerous bacteria present.

However, some people do choose to dehydrate raw bacon despite the risks. If you understand the hazards and wish to do so, it is possible. Proper handling and storage steps must be followed meticulously to minimize foodborne illness risks.

Benefits of Dehydrating Raw Bacon

While not recommended, some proponents of dehydrating raw bacon cite these potential benefits:

  • Retains more fat and flavor – Cooking bacon before dehydrating renders out some fat, which may reduce flavor. Dehydrating raw reportedly keeps more fat and bacon flavor.

  • Saves time – You skip the initial cooking step, so dehydrating raw bacon takes less active effort and time.

  • Utilizes bacon ends and pieces – Odd leftover bacon bits and ends can be used without prior cooking.

However, most food safety experts argue that these small benefits do not outweigh the major health risks of consuming pathogenic bacteria. Again, fully cooking bacon first is the safest choice. But the option to dehydrate raw exists for those willing to accept the risks.

How to Dehydrate Raw Bacon

If you understand the risks and still wish to dehydrate raw bacon, follow these steps carefully:

1. Select fresh, high-quality raw bacon

Choose bacon packages without tears or punctures. Inspect raw bacon slices for odd textures, colors, or odors. Raw bacon should look firm and pink with white fat. Pass on bacon that appears slimy, sticky, or smells sour or ammonia-like.

2. Slice bacon into uniform strips

Cut raw bacon into your desired shape and size. Uniform sizing will ensure even drying. Keep slices around 1/4 inch thick. Cut bacon lengthwise for longer jerky-like pieces, or into small squares.

3. Arrange in a single layer on dehydrator trays

Lay bacon flat in a single layer on your dehydrator trays. Do not overlap or stack slices. Allow space between pieces for air circulation.

4. Dehydrate at 145°F for 8-14 hours

Turn your dehydrator to 145°F. Dry raw bacon for 8-14 hours. Time will vary based on humidity, slice size, and doneness preference. Monitor periodically until dried but still pliable.

5. Pat off any beads of fat

As bacon dehydrates, beads of fat may weep from the meat. Blot these away with paper towels to prevent rancidity. Be diligent about checking for fat droplets throughout the process.

6. Condition and cool dehydrated bacon

Once dried, let bacon cool at room temperature for an hour or so. This conditioning helps prevent brittleness. Then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Follow strict storage and handling tips to keep dehydrated raw bacon safe to eat.

Storing Dehydrated Raw Bacon

Dried raw bacon is more perishable than cooked dehydrated bacon due to the higher risk of pathogens. Follow these storage guidelines:

  • Allow to fully cool before packaging. Refrigerate immediately; do not leave at room temperature.

  • Store in an airtight container or food-grade plastic bag. Exclude excess air.

  • Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Freeze for up to 2 months. Discard if mold appears or odors develop.

  • Before eating, rehydrate and fully cook dehydrated raw bacon to destroy lingering bacteria. Do not consume crispy dried bacon without rehydrating and cooking first.

With diligent refrigeration and handling, dehydrated raw bacon can stay stable for short term storage. But it carries higher foodborne illness risks than cooked dehydrated bacon.

Safety Tips for Dehydrated Raw Bacon

When dehydrating raw bacon, keep these food safety tips in mind:

  • Only use fresh, high-quality raw bacon within the printed use-by date. Discard if you see any mold, slime, or smell ammonia.

  • Monitor dehydrator temperature closely. Maintain a consistent 145°F throughout the drying process.

  • Rotate trays and blot fat droplets periodically to prevent spoilage points.

  • Never taste or eat partially dried raw bacon. Only consume after fully rehydrating and cooking through.

  • Refrigerate immediately after drying and cooling. Do not leave dehydrated raw bacon at room temperature.

  • Rehydrate and cook dried raw bacon thoroughly before eating. heating to an internal temperature of 145°F will kill pathogens.

  • When in doubt, throw it out! Discard any bacon you are uncertain about to be safe.

Dehydrating raw bacon introduces risks not present when dehydrating cooked bacon. Take all food safety precautions seriously if choosing to dehydrate bacon before cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about dehydrating raw bacon:

Is dehydrated raw bacon safe to eat?
Raw bacon may contain salmonella, E. coli, or other pathogens. Dehydrating does not kill these. Consuming dried raw bacon carries major foodborne illness risks. Cook bacon before dehydrating for safety.

How long does dehydrated raw bacon last?
If properly stored in the refrigerator, dehydrated raw bacon may last 1-2 weeks max. For longer term storage, freeze for up to 2 months. Discard if any mold, off-smells, or stickiness develops.

Can you rehydrate and cook dehydrated raw bacon?
Yes, you can rehydrate dried raw bacon and cook it before eating. Fully rehydrating and cooking to 145°F internally will kill any lingering pathogens, making it safer to consume.

Why isn’t it recommended to dehydrate raw bacon?
The high risks of foodborne illnesses from pathogens make dehydrating raw bacon inadvisable. The USDA and other food safety authorities caution that raw bacon must always be cooked first to destroy bacteria.

Is dehydrated cooked bacon safer than raw?
Absolutely. Fully cooking bacon to 145°F before dehydrating kills any potential bacteria. Dehydrated cooked bacon carries minimal foodborne illness risks in comparison to raw.

The Verdict on Dehydrating Raw Bacon

While it is possible to dehydrate raw, uncooked bacon, food safety experts warn against it due to the high risk of pathogenic bacteria being present. Salmonella and E. coli both pose dangers if consuming dehydrated raw bacon.

To minimize foodborne illness risks, it is strongly advised to fully cook bacon to 145°F prior to dehydrating it. The high heat of cooking destroys bacteria that dehydrating temperatures cannot.

If you do choose to dehydrate raw bacon, employ meticulous food safety practices for handling, drying, storage, and cooking the finished product before eating. But for guaranteed safety, cook that bacon first!

Dehydrating bacon for longer storage. Bacon Jerky! Easy!

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