To make dehydrated fish, cut fresh fish fillets into 1/4-inch strips. Marinate the fish for up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. Pat the fish strips dry, and place them in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Set the food dehydrator to 145°F and dry the fish for 10–12 hours.
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Step-by-Step Guide to Make Dehydrated Fish
If you have a food dehydrator, you can use it to dehydrate fish or make fish jerky. This is the best way to dehydrate fish because a food dehydrator keeps a steady temperature.
Tools Needed for Dehydrating Fish
Dehydrating fresh fish fillets is easy if you have the right tools. Before beginning the process of dehydrating, ensure you have the following items on hand:
- Large bowl
- Paper towels
- Sharp Knife
- Storage containers
Preparing Fresh Fish for Dehydrating
Follow these steps to prepare your fish for dehydrating:
Step 1: If you have a large wild caught or fresh water fish, ensure it doesn’t smell fishy (this is a sign that the fish has spoiled). Rinse it well under cold running water.
Step 2: Pat your fresh fish dry with paper towels.
Step 3: Cut your fish into 1/4-inch strips and put the strips in a large bowl or container. Cut the strips the same size to ensure more even drying.
Step 4: To prevent bacterial growth in the fish, you must use a decent amount of salt when marinating the fish. You can use plain table salt or follow a seasoning recipe. Place fish strips in a marinade that contains salt in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
Step 5: After marinating your fish, discard the marinade. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry.
Drying Fish in a Food Dehydrator
Step 1: Spread the fish strips on the dehydrator trays, ensuring there is enough space between the strips for proper air circulation.
Step 2: Set the dehydrator to 145°F and dry the fish for 10-12 hours.
Step 3: Check on the fish every few hours to ensure that it dries evenly. When fully dried, the dehydrated fish should be leathery and flake easily when bent.
Step 4: Once dried, allow your fish to cool. Store your dehydrated fish in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to extend its shelf life and prevent spoilage.
5 Essential Food Safety Tips for Dehydrating Fish
Dehydrating fish is a fantastic way to preserve it,. but it must be handled properly to be safe.
- Avoid dehydrating fish that has been frozen. This is because ice crystals can form and puncture holes in the cell membranes of the fish. This can lead to mold and bacteria growth, making the fish unsafe to eat.
- Always use a low temperature to dry fish to prevent bacteria growth. Bacterial growth can cause food-borne illnesses, so drying your fish at low temperatures ensures the fish is safe to eat.
- After drying fish, clean your dehydrator. This is important to prevent bacteria growth while keeping your appliance in good condition.
- Store your dehydrated fish in an airtight container. Place the container in a dry, dark place to prevent it from absorbing moisture.
- Use paper towels to pat the fish dry before dehydrating it.
How Long Does it Take to Dehydrate Fish?
It can take up to 12 hours to dehydrate fish. However, many factors can influence the amount of time it takes to dry fish, including the thickness of the fish strips, the number of fish strips in the dehydrator, and how humid the air is.
Keep an eye on your fish and check for doneness throughout the drying process.The fish strips should feel fully dry yet pliable. If there are any signs of moisture on the fish, continue dehydrating it.
What’s the Difference Between Dehydrated Fish and Smoked Fish?
Dehydrating fish and smoking fish are two different methods of fish preservation. Both methods preserve fish by removing moisture, but dehydrating fish uses a low temperature. This usually eliminates 80–90% of the moisture.
Smoking fish is done by exposing fish to either hot or cold smoke from a wood fuel source. The smoke gives the food flavor and helps preserve it by minimizing the moisture content. Smoking also imparts certain chemicals into the smoked fish, which serve as natural preservatives.
How to Choose the Best Fish for Dehydrating
When it comes to drying fish, not all types of fish are the same. When choosing fish for dehydrating, pick a lean fish. Start the dehydrating process as soon as possible to preserve it.
Bass, haddock, halibut, sole, tuna, and cod fish are some of the best fish for dehydrating.
It is important to note that most oily or fatty fish will spoil quickly – usually within a week. Some fish that you should avoid dehydrating include catfish, mullet, mackerel, whitefish, salmon, and sardines.
How Long Does Dehydrated Fish Last?
When stored properly, dried fish has a shelf life of several months or years, depending on the storage method.
Dehydrated fish can be stored in an airtight container for one month at room temperature, six months in a refrigerator, and up to 12 months in the freezer.
Here are a few tips to follow to ensure that your dehydrated fish stays tasty and safe to eat:
- Add oxygen absorbers to remove excess oxygen from storage containers.
- Allow dried fish to cool for 30 to 45 minutes before storing it in an airtight container.
- Once dehydrated, the fish will absorb some moisture from the air, so avoid leaving it out for too long.
- To prolong the shelf-life of dried fish, try vacuum sealing it in mason jars, Mylar bags, or vacuum sealer bags.
Is Dehydrated Fish Shelf-Stable?
Yes, dehydrated fish is considered shelf-stable.
When properly stored in airtight containers, dried fish can last for one month at room temperature.