Jerky ? What temp.

Discussion in 'Drying/Dehydrating' started by ritamcd, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. I usually go with 160 in my dehydrator but its seeming to get TOO dried out ...
    Sooo My question .. what temp do you usually use to dehydrate your jerky ? I am gonna try 150 and see if that does it slow enough to where it will not be crumbly [​IMG]
  2. I start about 120 in the smoker for a couple hours then 135 - 140 for a couple and the last hour at 165ish. Now that I have a dehydrator I am going to do the last half in it. Haven't tried it yet.
  3. Good Luck!!  .. I have about 20lbs going right now .. I will try and jack it up during the last hour or so and knock it down for a while .. thanks

    I couldn't live without my dehydrator ..
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Not sure if you're curing or not, so here's some things to remember:

    If you cured the meat, you can go pretty low for starting out and slow the drying way down, as alelover mentioned. If not cured, I would advise you follow a proven process to kill the critters off before the meat dries. USDA recommends heating the meat in the marinade to 160* prior to drying, and this is actually cooking it before you dry it. Bacteria can get heat resistant in dryer environments, so if you wait to heat it up in a dehydrator or smoker, you may not kill them.

    It's not really jerky anymore at that point,'s a flavor, texture and color issue for me, but it is a safe prep method if you do not cure.

    I prefer cured so I can take all day to dry the jerky and get the texture and level of dryness I want. Towards the end of drying, I remove part of the batch while leaving in what isn't ready. Getting all pieces dried to your liking is your final step in assuring you get what you want for your efforts, so that's where being around to keep an eye on things is important. I never got around to grabbing a dehydrator, so drying in the smoker may or may not require more attention, but the smoker can do the job of two pieces of equipment. Either way, you need to get them out before they're over-dried.

  5. I have never done this in the 20 years I have been making jerky .. suppose salt is a cure to some point but I didn't use and never have used Cure ..

    I was trying to fallow some sort of guidelines when I would keep it at 160 but .. well it just dries the outside too fast ..
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah, I wasn't sure about your process, so I felt inclined to mention it. It is a risk without pre-dry pasteurization of the marinate/meat, so I just wanted to make sure you understood what it can lead to so you make informed decisions.

    Salt, to my knowledge, won't kill bacteria like properly used cure additives, but will instead inhibit their growth until conditions begin to return to the type of environment they thrive in.

    160* start-up for drying would be cause for the surface to dry very quickly, while the interior is lagging behind. If I recall, the higher temp (160*+) start for drying is an acceptable form of pasteurization, but product quality issues can result, as it seems you have been experiencing. My experiences seem to indicate that once the surface has skinned over, it really is difficult to determine the level of dryness, due to the texture of the surface being toughened-up, and higher start-up temps for drying is how this happens. I use a bend-test, along with color and shrinkage, but if the pieces have skinned over too early, it's harder to tell by texture. They may feel leathery, but if the outside is really tough, the inside can still be pretty soft. At that point, you may need to bend to the point of folding in half and see if it snaps in two or not. You probably already know this, but just in case...I've only been at the jerky scene for several years, all cured, all smoked, then dried in the smoker as well.

    With cured meat, I smoke at anywhere under 100* to about 120*, then slowly increase temps after I begin to dry in the 120* range, with 160-170* max to finish them up. It may take over 12-15 hours for thick sliced, depending on humidity and ventilation of the smoker, but the R/H is typically 30-40% or less here...semi-arid. I do like to slice my whole muscle meats thicker than most, which prolongs drying time, of course, but it's the quality of the finished product that I'm really after, with the time needed to finish it being of little importance.

    Some folks don't like the idea of using cure due to possible health issues, but when used correctly and eaten in moderation, there should not be any reason to be concerned, barring other health or illness factors. And for the purists, this just may be how they like to do things...I can't argue with either reason, as long as the risks and ways to avoid them are understood...then it's up to the individual to decide which route they choose to use.

    Just passing info...if no cure is your thing and it works to your preference, then roll with it, but if curing could make your drying process easier or result in a better finished product with less worries, maybe give it some thought...just saying, I don't worry about mine being safe to eat, and my process yields some really nice snack food with a great chew and texture. You may have missed it, but my pepper-steak jerky (link is in my sig line) is a good example of how easy cured jerky can be, and it's thick sliced @ 3/8" just takes some time to dry after the smoke.

    BTW,, that's a nice sized jerky run! Hope all is well!

  7. I use cure and my temps are based on that. I can't add anything to what Eric said. He gotcha covered.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  8. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always cure and around 100 here, maybe bump to 120 at the end, but that's in my smoker.
  9. OK well I have the cure and all that but what do I add it to ? the meat ? or the brine .. and when I measure it out would it be to t he total weight of meat and brine combined ?
  10. I soo don't like it when my posts get deleted lol
    I also use the light test .. if I hold it up to the light and there are no dark spots its good to go ..

    OK and now my cure question .. HOW [​IMG] .. Total weight of the meat or total weight of the meat and brine ? It would make more sense to add it to the combined total weight to me
  11. Hickup ..
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ah, sorry Rita, got wrapped up in other things for a while. The cure additives should be used per the weight of the trimmed and sliced (or ground) meat only, as the brine mix has water and spices which add to the weight. For a wet cure, depending on the amount of seasonings, I use 3-4oz water per pound of meat, add the seasonings and cure, mix well, then add this to the meat, and of course, coat the pieces well before tossing in the fridge. If you use a soy sauce or other wet ingredients, you may or may not want to cut some of the water out of the mix. I don't use soy, worsty sauce or other wet ingredients for jerky wet cures, at least I haven't yet. Just seasonings, Morton's Tender Quick per instructions (easier to get TQ around here) and water. If using TQ, don't use anything else containing salt, or it may be too salty, hence why I don't use worsty/soy.

    If you have other cure additives, use them per instructions with recommended amount of salt.

  13. I use a worst. / Soy base .. I have 6 bags of TQ sitting in my kitchen too but am nervous about the salt and the integrity of my finish product ... is say cure 1 less salty ?
  14. Ohhh and thank you!! I am in no rush ...
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  15. OK I was just reading in the Charcuterie and it doesn't say anything about a cure.. And that the salt was the preservative in this recipe .. I am getting confused..


  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you're using a Charcuterie recipe, then follow it to the letter, including drying temps. If it calls for 160*, then that's what you need to use, regardless of the temptation to reduce temps for slower drying to improve texture, or whatever other reason...don't deviate from the recipe's guidelines.

    If this drying temperature is causing texture issues, then all I can say is that you will have to live with that.

    The alternative is to change to a recipe using a wet-cure instead of a brine/marinade. If you use cure, you have much more flexibility in drying temps.

    Regarding converting your currently used recipe to a wet-cure:

    I need to know, do you add additional salt to the marinade that could be omitted or reduced if using a cure mix, such as table salt or kosher salt added by weight or measure? If there isn't, it may add to the difficulty a bit, but we'll see if I can still work it up for you...I'm pretty close right now. I just want to make sure I have all the angles covered before I kick out the method for converting from your current brine/marinade to a wet-cure.

    I am already working up most of the details for you to reformulate into a wet-cure while still keeping the same sodium content and flavor profile. It should work like a snap, and it may require you to be able to know exactly how much added salt there is, including what's in the worsty/soy sauce, and I'll tell you how to do that as well.

    You may or may not be able to use TQ instead of cure #1, which uses less by measure per pound...depends on how much sodium you're using right now. I can help you run the numbers if you're not good with math...I am, so no biggy.

    Come on back and let me know if you want to roll with this conversion to a wet-cure, and also, if you add additional salt over and above what the worsty/soy has, as well as if there's a seasoning blend which has salt. I don't need to know what it is, just if it has salt, which will need to be accounted for as well, but we'll figure it out.

    You're it...hmm, this is kinda like phone tag...LOL!!!

  17. Well in basic I use 1 bottle of soy 2 bottles of worchestshire ... about a cup or so of ketchup and the same of a bbq jacked up .. as for other salts No .. I think thats a lot of soy to begin with .. for the salt content

    It seemed an aweful low temp. when I was reading through it course when I am trying to get the details my kindle shut off [​IMG] ... when I get it back on I will post the details for you
  18. 2 1/2 lbs Lean beef  all fat removed  1 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt / their spices and dry at 90F for 16-20 hours [​IMG] Now that sounds Scary to me [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  19. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Oh, OK, don't need any other details, mainly just separate salt. That will be a bit more difficult to whittle down the sodium, if there's none added separately. Well, let me get back to my "drawing board" and see if I've got everything, then I'll be back.

    What I do see right now is that you can look for low-sodium bottle products, and from there we drop some of your current sodium and replace it with what's in the cure mixes, either TQ or, if we can't drop enough salt, cure #1 would have to do.

    Anyway, one last check of my document I'm working on to make sure I'm getting everything right...back in a short.

    You may not think it, but I actually enjoy figuring out something like this (I used to develop massive spreadsheets for work with unthinkable amounts of number crunching going that stuff)...this little project gives me a new challenge, so, I thank you for that, Rita!

    Let the fun begin...LOL!!!

  20. [​IMG] I did enough # crunching last week when business taxes were due ..  Boy do they ever suck ya dry [​IMG]

    Thanks Eric I really do appreciate it .. If it matters I usually use the larger Kokimon bottle or however you spell it [​IMG]

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