This quick and clean guide for first time jerky makers will help you get started.
- Use fresh lean meat that is free of fat and connective tissue.
- Slice the meat with the grain, not crosswise.
- Add some seasonings. (Skip to the end for an example).
- Cure the meat the correct length of time at refrigerator temperatures. Salted meat should be placed in plastic, wooden, stainless steel or stone containers.
- Keep the drying or smoking temperature in the smokehouse or oven at 120F or below (use a thermometer). Gas ovens usually maintain the proper temperature when the pilot light alone is on.
- If an oven is used, line the sides and bottom with aluminum foil to catch the drippings. Open the door to the first or second stop to allow moisture to escape and to lower the oven temperature when necessary.
- Use any hardwood for smoking. Do not use pine, fir or conifers.
- Remove the jerky from the smokehouse or oven before it gets too hard for your taste. Five pounds of fresh meat should weigh approximately 2 pounds after drying or smoking.
- Store jerky in clean jars or plastic bags, or wrap it in freezer paper and freeze it. Although jerky will last almost indefinitely at any temperature, its quality deteriorates after a few months.
- Seasonings and smoking or drying times can be altered to suit individual tastes. Examples of spices which could be added to 5 pounds of meat in the previous recipes include: 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 tablespoons coriander or 1 teaspoon all spice.
Every type of game will have its own unique flavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasoning and combinations.