Edible Science Beef Jerky: How does water move out of food?

My daughter favorite food is beef jerky. Today we thought we would show how osmosis works. In our case, Osmosis is the process which a water passes through food and evaporates. The great thing about beef jerky is that it will last a long time because all the water is removed. My daughter loves it because it is a super yummy snack and its healthy. 

What you need:

  • img_33514-5 pounds flank steak
  • dehydrator or oven
  • season pack from beef jerky outlet (will make 15 pounds)
  • 1 cup water
  • Zip Lock bags
  • 2 days 

What you do:

  1. img_3399Freeze all the flank steak 4-6 hours
  2. Take out the freezer and cut into 1/4 inch strips ( best let a parent help)
  3. Put back in the fridge to let thaw for hour  
  4. Add seasoning and cure to 1 cup water
  5. Mix together
  6. Add steak strips in mixtures and cover thoroughly 
  7. Put back in Zip Lock bags
  8. Insert into another Zip Lock bag to make sure there is no leakage
  9. Leave in fridge overnight
  10. Put strips on racks of dehydrator – make sure they are not touching 
  11. Dehydrate for 4-10 hours 

What we discovered:

img_3365It’s better to freeze the meat before cutting. If the meat is soft it will be harder to cut.  The longer it dehydrates the more water moves out of the meat and the tougher it is.  We thought a perfect time was 10 hours. Little Mac likes her beef jerky extra crispy (like bacon). It is a pain in the butt to clean each tray, otherwise, I would dehydrate a lot more. We found a little Pam helps with the clean up.

You can also do this in an oven or convection oven at 200 degrees for the same amount of time.  I would do it at night because the room does get pretty hot.

Science behind it: 

img_3397The meat has a high concentration of water. The Jerky seasoning and cure has lots of salt and flavor molecules dissolved in it and a low concentration of water. As the dehydrator heats up the water molecules heat up and begin to move. The water can move through the membrane and lining of the muscle because they are so small. Water tend to move from areas of high water concentration to low concentration. The water leaves the muscle cells and moves to the jerky seasoning and because the dehydrator is so hot it makes the water evaporate.

Here some items we used for our experiment:

Beef Jerky Seasoning: http://amzn.to/2dtwX3c
Beef Jerky Seasoning: http://amzn.to/2dtwX3c
Dehydrator: http://amzn.to/2dg84uQ
Flank Steak: http://amzn.to/2dg8AJ7
Zip Lock Bags: http://amzn.to/2dxu5aH


About Chrissie

Follow our crazy journey across America as we visit roadside oddities, historical land marks and beautiful landscapes. I have ton of ideas and review educational products that will help you get the most on your home school adventure. We are an Unschool family that believes the world is our classroom and is teaching our children to self direct their education to a better future.

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