I love making beef jerky. I started making jerky by using Alton Brown's recipe, but I found his jerky making apparatus to be lacking in a few key areas, so I put together my own jerky making setup. I use a modified food dehydrator for making my jerky. I prefer using a food dehydrator because it's easy to clean, efficient at circulating air, and easily adjustable to accommodate larger or smaller batches of meat. Jerky is supposed to be air dried with no heat. Drying with no heat required modification of my dehydrator. I would like to share my modification process with you!
I use a Nesco American Harvest dehydrator. I found mine on sale for about $50, but it looks like the going rate on Amazon is about $65.
I like this dryer because the fan is on top, it's easy to clean, and you can buy and use extra trays. I think it goes up to 10 or 15 trays, but I only have 8.
Step 1: Remove the top nob
In order to disconnect the heating element, we must remove the plastic bar that goes across the top of the fan. The first step is to remove the knob:
Just pull the knob straight up, and it should come off:
Step 2: Disconnect the bar
Flip the lid over. There should be four screws outside the ring. Remove just those four screws:
Flip the lid back over, and you should be able to remove the center plastic bar with the Nesco logo on it:
Step 3: Disconnect the heater
These two leads go to the potentiometer that controls the heater:
Disconnect one. The circuit will open, and the heater disabled:
I taped mine down with electrical tape:
Just follow the steps backwards to reassemble your dryer. The electrically inclined may want to enhance their dryer with a switch. I (on the other hand) am lazy. I bought a second dryer so that I could make jerky and do normal food dehydrating at the same time.
You can see more pictures of the process here. I plan to write a follow up post where I actually make jerky. Yum!