You want to bring meat with you on your backpacking trip, you say? You don't want spam or tuna, but something much lighter?
Well, let me tell you how to dehydrate hamburger. It's very, very easy!
First things first, figure out how much you want to take. We made two(2) five(5) pound bags. We brought one bag with us and had the other mailed with some more food supplies we had prepared when we stopped in San Diego for a week. Remember that when I say 5 lbs that means how much the meat weighed before it was dehydrated! One 5lb bag of meat probably weighed much less than half a pound, though I can't be specific.
What you'll want to do is make sure you have a dehydrater and know how to cook hamburger. Get the leanest hamburger possible as you'll repeatedly have to drain the fat.
1. Cook the meat thoroughly, draining all excess fat and breaking it up into small chunks. Make sure to get as much out as possible! The less fat, the longer it will last. It's said if there is little to no fat, your dried hamburger will last indefinitely. I take this to mean you probably won't be carrying it long enough for it to go bad.
2. Throw that cooked meat in a colander and run hot water over it to get all that grease off then blot off all excess liquid.
3. Put some wax paper down on your dehydrater sheets if you don't want the little pieces of meat falling through or if you have solid trays, even better. We dehydrated 5 lbs in a couple hours. I'm sure dehydraters vary, so just make sure it's hard and completely dry. It will look like gravel when you're finished.
And that's it! Fill up some ziploc bags with it, get the air out and throw it in the freezer until you're ready to take off! We carried 5lbs of meat in one regular ziploc bag. Now that's nice!
To reconstitute, we would put the hamburger in a cup of water while we waited for our noodles to cook and throw it in at the end to heat it up. It's not the tastiest, but it's nice to have some meat. In fact, we were of the opinion that it didn't really taste like anything. It does tend to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. We even made some "spaghetti" with it one night when we cooked it with some spaghetti mix and put it over our friend, ramen noodles.
Here's a more detailed list of dehydrating meats, and they have a slightly different way of drying hamburger: How to Dehydrate Meat