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Dehydrated Hamburger “Rocks” for Long Term Meat Storage

| January 30, 2009 | Featured, Food

This is a great way to store hamburger for long periods of time or as a portable hiking component of meals. Once prepared it only requires a cool, dry place safe from pests. If properly prepared and stored, they can last up to two years. Rehydrated as needed, Hamburger Rocks are perfect for tacos, spaghetti sauce, hamburger helper, tamale pie, lasagna and any other recipes calling for lean ground beef. You can start with regular ground hamburger but ground rump and pot roast yields a slightly superior product. My advice is to make your first batch with regular ground hamburger then try other combination as your budget, sales and tastes dictate. If you’re feeling truly experimental, you can try hunting/game animals such as rabbit and venison. These are generally much leaner than domesticated stock so be sure to let us know how it turns out.

Starting with five pounds will yield about one quart of Hamburger Rocks. While this may sound like a lot, do not be alarmed. Animal tissue is primarily liquid and removing that liquid is our goal when preparing food for storage in this manner.

A large cast-iron skillet is best, but any type will suffice. Fry your ground beef at a medium-high heat until browned. We aren’t in a hurry here.

Drain off a much of the grease safely manner and feel free to use it in other cooking applications or dispose of it in a responsible manner.

Transfer the meat to a metal or high temperature plastic colander. Rinse under hot running water to remove additional fat and grease. While the meat is still in the colander wipe down the skillet with paper towels and keep it handy. Transfer the washed beef back into the skillet.

Fry the beef again over medium-low heat, stirring often until you see no more steam. Keep the heat low at this point to prevent burning. They should be thoroughly brown at this point but NOT blackening. Our goal here is to drive off water from the rinsing project.


Place the “twice cooked” rocks into an oven roasting pan, spreading them as evenly and thinly as possible to increase surface area. Turn the oven to 200 degrees F, stirring and turning occasionally as the meat continues to dry. If your oven does not vent moisture well, leaving the door cracked will help with this preliminary drying. One to two hours should finish the job in most cases, but use your common sense. Remove from the oven and check for dryness. Allow to cool. Additional drying can be achieved with a home food dehydrator if desired.

Once cooled and dried, pack into zip lock bags or, better yet, mason jars. Pack tightly, expelling as much air as possible. Hardcore food preservers may use air evaluators or oxygen absorbers. The final product stores well in pantries, dry basements, root cellars and kitchen shelves. Rehydrate portions as needed by soaking one cup of rocks in two cups of boiled water, the pre-cooked meat can be used in any recipe.


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34 Responses to “Dehydrated Hamburger “Rocks” for Long Term Meat Storage”

  1. steve says:

    This does Rock! I’ll do mine in a dehydrator, but this is what I was looking for. Thanks!!!

  2. michael johnke says:


  3. bro frank says:

    how long will this store for and can you get botulism from this process,, thank you

  4. Under optimal conditions, this will last for two years though like any food storage system, I would suggest using it before then and rotating your supplies to avoid loss.

    While I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, many health organizations recommend “botulinum cook” at 250F (121C) for 3 minutes or boiling food for 20 minutes (be aware that boiling point varies by altitude) if you have concerns about bacterial contamination.

  5. MidKnight says:

    I tried using deer and it turned out just fine. I vacuum sealed it in a mason jar. pretty good flavor

  6. Vicki says:

    How does it taste once its Hydrated and hows the texture?

    • Taste is a bit leaner than whatever quality of hamburger you started with (because of the oil lost to cooking and draining). The beef flavor remains good. The texture is probably best in casseroles, soups, stews, tacos, etc. Not suitable for reconstituted patties or anything like that.

    • Alex Kenlon says:

      Frankly never could taste the difference. The flavor is there, the texture is about the same. But then again we’re talking about using it in stews, casseroles, Pasta, Hamburger Helpers…so you’re getting about the same thing as if you used fresh.

      Maybe a slight difference, but nothing you’re going to notice.

  7. Gerald says:

    My brother-in-law and I started doing this years ago to take while we were hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I left a baggie sitting on the counter as a test one time after we returned. Three months later it was just fine (so we ate it). I actually skipped the oven and rerinsing part–just cooked in the pan till well done removed as much grease as possible then put in a dehydrator for 12-18 hours. Comes out and handles sort of like dried grain. Goes great in any sort of liquid dish (soup, stew, hamburger helper (ugh), etc.

  8. Anna says:

    Has anyone tried this with ground turkey or chicken? We don’t eat red meat of any kind but would like to be able to store meat for prepping.


  9. Anna says:

    Sorry I should clarify on the chicken, ground chicken.

    • I have not, but I’d really like to know what you find out if you decided to give it a try. Chickens (layers as well as meat) are part of my future plans and I’d love to have the option.

    • hooky says:

      Anna, we do it with turkey sausage for our backpacking trips. It works even better than using ground beef (it’s lower in fat).

  10. Anna says:


    I belong to a prepper group and posed this question to them today too and they said yes, you can.

    Can’t wait to try it.


  11. Michelle Hardin says:

    I’m interested in how the ground turkey/chicken turns out as well. “Preppers Group” What a wonderful concept! I have a wonderful friend so she and I work together at finding information and sharing ideas but a group would be wonderful!

  12. Michelle says:

    I was reading about this last year on another blog ( sorry can’t remember where) but the gentleman stated that if you mix in bread crumbs with the meat prior to dehydrating that it will actually rehydrate better.. HTH FWIW..

  13. Thank you for this info. This is the kind of things I want to know.

  14. Susan C says:

    Speaking of chicken or turkey, often times the boneless skinless chicken breast is onsale at a great price and I’ll slice them up with salt pepper and garlic and dry them for the dogs as a treat, but it’s a good protien boost at work sometimes too!

  15. Stacy says:

    Does the hamburger make the dehydrator stink afterwards, or retain an odor?
    We use the dehydrator for fruit and vegetables, have not used it for meat or anything with grease.

  16. Stacy says:

    Quick question:
    When you put 1 cup dehydrated burger in 2 cups water, what amount does it rehydrate to?

  17. Kristen says:

    When you rehydrate the meat, how much does it end up making if you do the 1 cup of meat to 2 cups of water?

    • In my experience, if your dehydration was pretty thorough, the 1 cup of meat absorbs nearly the entire 2 cups of water, resulting in 3 cups rehydrated meat. However, the first couple times I did this, my dehydration was less than perfect, so I had some unabsorbed water. I would recommend making a batch and adding water progressively to see at what point the dehydrated meat no longer absorbs liquid. This will not only give you a good idea of how well you dehydrated the batch but also prevent you from having watery results. Best of luck!

  18. Maxine Wood says:

    Can you just fry, rinse, and put in dehydrators. For 12 to 18 hours?

    • Alex Kenlon says:

      You could, but it never hurts to learn how to do it without a dehydrator in case yours breaks or is in use with another project or you lose power.

  19. Bear says:

    Why do you have to cook it first? When we dehydrate beef for jerky it is raw. Does it store better?

    • Malapert says:

      Bear, I think it’s the same reason you have to cook before you pressure can it….ground meat sticks together. If you dehydrate the ground meat, it’ll be one huge patty and take forever to dry out (if ever). I love canning my meats and bonus….when you drain out the meat (which tastes awesome), you have instant broth too! :) More water storage. ;)

  20. Sherlei says:

    Thats what I did I fried, rinsed and dehydrated to work fine

  21. Mark says:

    Adding 1 cup finely crushed bread crumbs (just put bread slices in the dehydrator for a couple hours and use a rolling pin to powder it) to 1 pound of ground meat before you cook it will let the meat absorb more water when you rehydrate it and it won’t end up chewy or tough.
    I now use only venison for doing this. There is no fat in the meat so no extra blotting, rinsing, or cooking twice. Just be careful you don’t burn the meat as you brown it. With no fat at all, it will stick and burn if you’re not careful.

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