Before refrigeration and the common place use of modern preservatives, drying meat into jerky was a typical means of preservation.
It is possibly the oldest way of preserving meat. Traditionally, jerky was made from long, thin strips of meat that was salted and dried in the sun or over a small smokey fire and there is historical evidence that date it to ancient civilizations.
Jerky is an excellent trail food for the outdoor adventurers and also is an fairly healthy snack alternative (although sodium intake is a consideration- a little more on that below). Nowadays jerky is most commonly made from beef, however it can also be made from poultry, fish, and wild game such as deer (venison), elk, buffalo, bison, moose, caribou, antelope, and other game. In fact wild game makes some of the best jerky due to it’s typical low fat content.
Back to the sodium issue. The one (health) draw back to jerky is that it does typically have a high sodium content. Like all things you should consume it in moderation and in accordance with your particular dietary goals. Of note is that jerky can be made without salt, but it’s shelf life will be drastically reduced, however if you can easily counter this by refrigeration and if your using it over a relatively short period of time (day or two) it should be of no concern.
So lets get to the Jerky!
1What you need
– Dehydrator ( really this optional as there are numerous methods, however for this I used a Nesco Dehydator)
-3/4 Worcestershire Sauce
-3/4 Golden Mountain (cooking soy) regular soy I’m sure will work but will be stronger and not likely as good.
-1 tsp TexJoy Fajita Seasoning Mix
-1/8 tsp Almond Extract
-1/2 tsp Onion Powder
-1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
-pinch dried chopped onion
-pinch dried chopped fried garlic
We stock all these supplies in our Amazon Store Prepper>Food Supplies>Jerky
Mix all (EXCEPT MEAT) in a dish and set aside for now
If you have wild game that’s great, but if you’re buying your meat at the store like most then consider this. I personally like to look around for discounted (good) cuts of meat. I do this for jerky and in general for my families food supply. The key to this technique is properly storing the meat. It will generally be discounted as it nears its sell by date. As long as you take it home and prepare it, or freeze it then it will last you as long as needed.
Trim all of the noticeable fat from your cut of meat because any fat will cause the jerky to spoil much faster; you can discard it or better yet Save it. You can make Yorkshire pudding, fry up some home fries, saute veggies for soup. grind some when (if) you grind your own hamburger – the list is endless. Freeze that treasure!
You can cut jerky with just a knife and cutting board, but there are some convenient tools you can use for slicing meat, such as a Jerky Slicing Tray, a Hand-Crank Manual Jerky Slicer, or an electric meat slicer; all of which may be great to use, but I get by fine with a nice Rada Knife.
As for the actual cutting opinions are mixed.
Personally I just do what I feel like at the time. A good rule is this
With the grain is much more solid than against.
If using a tender meat then cutting across the grain will result in a very crumbly mess. Cutting with the grain is ideal.
If you are using tough cut then cutting with the grain will be ver hard to chew.
Either way try your best to cut nice thin strips to help with minimizing the drying time.
4Mix it all up!
Mix all your meat the marinade you previously laid aside in the container.
5Bag it and wait
Once you have it all mixed up stick it in a container and refrigerate. I like to use ziplock bags, but anything should work fine. How long you wait is up to you. I waited 4 hours and the meat was more than adequately marinated.
6Plate and Dehydrate
Once the meat is nice and marinated place it on the dehydrator trays and begin. A good rule is above 160 degrees for meat. Depending on how long you want the meat to store for will decide how long to dehydrate it for. The longer you dehydrate the drier it gets and the longer it stores. I personally prefer a more tender jerky and don’t keep it long so I only go about 4-6 hours and could probably go less.
If you would like a one stop shop of a book on dehydrating I highly recommend Mary Bells book. Although the recipe here is mine I utilize her book for tons of stuff related to dehydrating. It really does cover about every thing you can imagine. (also in our store)
For longer term storage I recommend getting a vacuum sealer like pictured. They really do an amazing job of preserving your foods in the freezer in excellent condition.
If you’ve enjoyed this article please comment.
Let us know your favorite recipe and if you’ve tried this one let me know what you thought.