Getting ready to try first batch of jerky in my MES 30. Researched things to death and as I found with Smoked Salmon recipes, things are all over the map. I have a few questions. Wondering if the jerky experts here could chime in and throw me a bone! Thanks in advance.
Use Of Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate (TenderQuick)
I'm seeing a lot of posts with people using Morton TenderQuick which has Sodium Nitrite. I've done some research, and by far the majority of jerky in the grocery store does NOT have Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate. In fact the go out of their way to advertise it is 'natural' preservative/nitrate free.
I'd done extensive research on using it in smoked salmon for commercial sale. With salmon it does not have to be used if the salt to moisture content is high enough. I could not find on FDA publications requiring certain salt/moisture ratios in jerky or requiring Nitrites/Nitrates at ALL (and the FDA is pretty conservative.) Instead they say the meat must reach 160F at some point in the process and then stay above 130F. I've seen in posts here that people are using Tenderquick so they don't have to go above 130-140 in there drying process. I also know, at least in smoked salmon, the amount of nitrite in the product mus be in a narrow band (between 100ppm and 200ppm) This is because the Nitrite/Nitrates over time turn into chemicals shown to cause cancer in lab animals. I'm not an alarmist, just stating why they regulate it.
So my first question is, does using Tenderquick and drying at 130 the entire process instead of going to 160 meat temp momentarily then reducing the heat to 130 make a big difference in the finished product? Or, are people using Tenderquick so they can have more moist jerky and not worry about if there is enough salt in the finished product?
For top round, 1/4" thick, what are the recommended marination times just using out of the bottle marinades, like the Lawrys brands (Teriyaki, Mesquite Like, Chiplotle, etc.) I have a friend that tried 12-hr and you could barely taste the marinade. Not sure if he washed or blotted, that could be the difference. It sounds like for 1/4" 24-hrs should be sufficient? Should I add extra salt to the marinade?
Storage life. If I vacuum pack my jerky, does it have to be refrigerated, or, if I want to store it at room temperature and ship it to friends and family, will I have to get technical and send samples to a lab to insure the salt-moisture ratio is correct?