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Old 01-24-2014, 01:52 AM   #1
SweetErika
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Let's Talk Jerky!

This title's for you, Ed.

OK, so I've pretty much become addicted to jerky of late. I don't really know why, since I'm not that big on eating meat and usually have trouble getting enough protein. But, yeah, I the sea-salty turkey jerky and Korean BBQ pork jerky from Costco and have been craving that extra protein lately. So does my hubby. And it's become an expensive habit, at 72 cents to $1 per ounce.

So we're considering making our own turkey (or chicken, I suppose?) and pork jerky if it offers a good cost savings (I'm assuming it does, but haven't priced it out). I don't eat any red meat, so that's not on the agenda for now (though if red meat is cheaper than poultry or pork, we'd make that for hubby). The whole process seems a little daunting, though, and we really don't want to buy a bunch of equipment just to make our new favorite, healthy snack. I have a small convection oven that supposedly can dehydrate, although I realize I'm likely going to need/want an actual dehydrator for this endeavor. That's fine if it saves us a bunch of money, and I'm pretty confident I can get one for free or cheap via Freecycle or Craigslist.

Anyway, does anyone here make their own jerky? Have you figured out the costs and savings of doing so? Have some favorite recipes? Any advice that'd be helpful for jerky novices?

Thanks in advance, fellow jerky enthusiasts!
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:06 AM   #2
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I've made some from lean beef, and it turned out OK.

From the microbiological point of view, I would never attempt it with pig or poultry myself.
Salmonella should be taken seriously.

(Proper heat treating should do it..... but I'm a little paranoid about the possibility of crapping myself to death )
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:05 AM   #3
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I too would caution against doing poultry and pork yourself, unless you are certain that your process will kill the salmonella and other critters know to these meats.

I grew up making jerky, mostly beef, but have done horse and buffalo too. The method used then was to apply dry seasonings (Fine herbs, smoked salt, onion, garlic ), then pound the meat with a mallet. Effective, messy, ever so tasty when it was done.

Today, we do a marinade overnight, then lay the meat out to dry, either in the oven or in a dehydrator. As you can see, our recipe below will result in a smokey/salty jerky, if you want a sweeter or BBQ flavor, then I'd recommend searching for different recipes. Start at Epicurious.com, they usually have pretty decent things to choose from.

½ t. Liquid Smoke
⅓ t. Garlic Powder
⅛ t. Pepper
1 t. Onion Powder
¼ c. Soy Sauce
¼ c. Worcestershire Sauce

Mix all ingredients together and add beef strips. Marinate overnight.

Put beef strips on a rack in the oven at its lowest temperature. Dry for 6-8 hrs.

Makes ½ c. marinade, enough for approximately ½-1 lb. of beef strips.

The key to good jerky is a good piece of meat. You want it as lean and free of gristle as possible. Always cut it across the grain. The thinner you slice it, the crispier and easier to eat it will be. Thicker slices tend to be very hard or chewy. Test the strips as they dry to get them to the desired point. Too dry can be rather hard to chew, too moist and you'll have shelf life issues as well as something less appetizing to most people.

It bears mentioning that home made jerky is nothing like store bought, it will be drier and tougher because it is not laden with chemicals and additives to keep it soft. Most commercial jerky starts life as hamburger, which also makes for a very tender morsel, as opposed to longer tissue fibers of sliced meat. Pounding the meat (or beating your meat if you prefer ), will help with tenderness. Another option would be to have the butcher slice it and tenderize it for you.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:24 AM   #4
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Blegh. You American's do some strange things to food.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:49 AM   #5
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NM, I knew I liked you. Reading through your post, I was wondering if I could just ask my butcher to cut it, and you even answered that!

How do you purchase your meat? I just got off the waiting list with a local farmer, so I will get to share into their meat harvest. (No RGBH, no antibiotics, appropriately fed....for about $2/pound). Squee!

Great thread, Erika! Hoping to read more how-tos on the topic.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:49 AM   #6
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Blegh. You American's do some strange things to food.
It is delicious!
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
rainshine quoth:
you american's do some strange things to food.
one word for you: vegemite.

jerky is a method of preserving meat for when it's scarce: it arose as a nutritional necessity in the pre-refrigeration days.



erika, you rock, just like this thread title!

like the others observed, the possible salmonella risks of non-beef protein would make me anxious--but since i know how deliberate you are about such things i would take a shot at it if i were you: no reason you should miss out. just be wary of the possible risks.

if you wanna make some for your husband, i found this informative & educational, like anything else alton brown used to do on food network, although he only addresses beef.

ed
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cumference View Post
I've made some from lean beef, and it turned out OK.

From the microbiological point of view, I would never attempt it with pig or poultry myself.
Salmonella should be taken seriously.

(Proper heat treating should do it..... but I'm a little paranoid about the possibility of crapping myself to death )
Definately not diy if it isnt beef, MAYBE venison. Veey lean red meat makes good jerky and might be lower in fat as well. Low and slow renders the fat out as well.

I like soy sauce, sugar, salt, red pepperflakes for my marinade. Lots of spacing on the racks...you don't want uneven drying. I smoke, but some of the best jerky I've ever had was made by just hanging thick strips in a very cold house with the air conditioning blowing on it.

Alton Brown As an episode where he uses cheap air conditioning filters as drying racks, straps them to a box fan and calls it good.

Last edited by query : 01-24-2014 at 11:54 AM. Reason: edit: jinx ed, on the Alton Brown bit.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwhisper View Post
one word for you: vegemite.

jerky is a method of preserving meat for when it's scarce: it arose as a nutritional necessity in the pre-refrigeration days.



erika, you rock, just like this thread title!

like the others observed, the possible salmonella risks of non-beef protein would make me anxious--but since i know how deliberate you are about such things i would take a shot at it if i were you: no reason you should miss out. just be wary of the possible risks.

if you wanna make some for your husband, i found this informative & educational, like anything else alton brown used to do on food network, although he only addresses beef.

ed
Our jerk editor ^^^^^^.
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Old 01-24-2014, 01:32 PM   #10
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aw, thanks for playing, sweetcheeks! you're so adorable!

ed
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwhisper View Post
one word for you: vegemite.
You took the word out of my mouth.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:31 PM   #12
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How do you purchase your meat? I just got off the waiting list with a local farmer, so I will get to share into their meat harvest. (No RGBH, no antibiotics, appropriately fed....for about $2/pound). Squee!
I don't do much beef anymore, so I rarely do jerky, however, when I do, I just check the meat counter for the best/cheap beef I can find. As long as it's not laden with gristle or fat, it's fine, you don't have to spend big bucks on it. If there is gristle, look for pieces of meat where you can cut out the debris without too much hassle. The key to "tender" jerky is lack of gristle, thin slicing, and drying time.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:50 PM   #13
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I think venison makes some of the best jerky. Its low in fat, high in protein and has no hormones and truly is all natural. You can use almost any cut, even ground if you buy a jerky gun. Its a great health snack for kids too!
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwhisper View Post
one word for you: vegemite.
I don't get excited about vegemite, haven't eaten it in a couple of years, but... there's a trick to making it a less horrible experience.

People see it comes in a jar like peanut butter or Nutella, and has a similar texture, so they assume they can eat it the same way. Bad idea. Spread it that thickly and you get an overdose of salty yuck. Apply it sparingly, just a thin scrape, and it adds a little flavour without being overwhelming.

Me, I like jerky as something to munch on long car trips, but spray "cheese" revolts me.

(Also, I imagine kangaroo jerky would work pretty well.)
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:08 PM   #15
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I did some checking, and apparently it's safe to make poultry and pork jerky as long as you take some necessary precautions, like heating the meat to 165 degrees long enough to kill salmonella and other bacteria. Here are some good safety guidelines, if anyone's interested. I'm comfortable following the proper procedures to avoid food borne illness, so I don't see it as a reason to not make other kinds of jerky.

My husband grew up on venison jerky, so I'm sure he'd enjoy making that after the next hunting season.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwhisper View Post
one word for you: vegemite.

jerky is a method of preserving meat for when it's scarce: it arose as a nutritional necessity in the pre-refrigeration days.
Vegemite is delicious.

We have refrigerators in Australia. Maybe you guys should look into it sometime.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:59 PM   #17
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Ooh, I'm liking this thread.

My brother makes jerky, although he steers away from chicken and pork, due to salmonella potential, and uses beef and buffalo/bison, which I adore. While it's technically 'red meat', the health benefits far outweigh any of the meat including poultry, it's tasty, lean and oh so good. Plus, it packs a wallop of protein. Did I mention that it's oh so good?

If you like venison, and have access to it, then you might want to try that, however, it does have a gamey taste which not everyone is a fan of.

That said, according to my brother, a dehydrator is worth the investment, as he makes jerky with it, and when I'm over I hijack it and make fruit leather and dry my own fruit.

Brother adds paprika (a must for Hungarians) and some cayenne, along with liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, soy and he won't tell me what the other ingredient is. Bastard.

IF you use the dehydrator and eat jerky often, then yes, it's works out to be cheaper - or again, that's what they tell me when I called to ask.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:16 PM   #18
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Nice thread.

My brother makes his own jerky as well, and uses both a smoker and a dehydrator. I believe the smoker is used when he does pork, chicken, and this super-delish turkey-jerky, to deal with the potential salmonella issues.

He has a Jamaican-style jerk jerky marinade that he uses occasionally that is very good. It has green onions, brown sugar, and scotch bonnet (he takes the seeds and veins out from the peppers to keep focus on flavour - not heat). I will hit him up for the recipe and share it here if he will divulge it.

Some have mentioned venison and FB mentioned buffalo/bison, and in keeping with something different, my brother also makes jerky and dry-cures fresh salmon and steelhead. If you like smoked fish, you will really enjoy jerky that had gills and fins at one time.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:55 PM   #19
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... snip
If you like venison, and have access to it, then you might want to try that, however, it does have a gamey taste which not everyone is a fan of. ...snip
Venison doesn't have to have a gamey taste. The gamey taste is generally a function of improper field handling and/or what they eat. (Although I've heard that trophy bucks can get so full of hormones during the breeding season that they become gamey.)
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetErika View Post
I did some checking, and apparently it's safe to make poultry and pork jerky as long as you take some necessary precautions, like heating the meat to 165 degrees long enough to kill salmonella and other bacteria. Here are some good safety guidelines, if anyone's interested. I'm comfortable following the proper procedures to avoid food borne illness, so I don't see it as a reason to not make other kinds of jerky.

My husband grew up on venison jerky, so I'm sure he'd enjoy making that after the next hunting season.

Interesting... looks like you'd have to boil the meat to attain a hundred sixty-five degrees. Seems like that would make it more like the consistency of freeze dried foods which are cooked first and then the moisture is removed.

I usually jerk at about 135 degrees... I guess you could just cranked the smoker up to 165 degrees I don't know if it would just do it faster...I was thinking it might be more crumbly and less chewy but probably still tasty

Last edited by query : 01-24-2014 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:31 PM   #21
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I've never tried jerky in my life.
I'm a jerky virgin.

L
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:59 PM   #22
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No helpful hints, but all this talk of venison has me craving back strap. *cries*
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:21 AM   #23
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In regards to poultry, I'm wondering if you could dry it first, THEN heat it to 165*, this would give you the true dried meat experience, rather than cooked meat that was dried <ewwww>. Didn't read the link SweetE posted, maybe this was covered.
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:57 AM   #24
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I've never tried jerky in my life.
I'm a jerky virgin.

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Old 01-25-2014, 03:57 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NippleMuncher View Post
In regards to poultry, I'm wondering if you could dry it first, THEN heat it to 165*, this would give you the true dried meat experience, rather than cooked meat that was dried <ewwww>. Didn't read the link SweetE posted, maybe this was covered.
Yes, you can. It looks like you can either use properly cooked meat or raw meat that's dried and heated (you can even build the heating into the drying process since 165 isn't that high of a temp).
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