Hi all, I've got a post up about me in the "Rollcall" section if you want to read why I'm here on the forums. :)
For now, I'll jump right into my questions!
I've never made jerky. Ever. But I want to learn.
I know some of the generalities, but I had a few questions before I tried anything. BTW, I plan to do both the "hamburger" style jerky, the kind the comes out of the caulking gun, and the traditional thin sliced, so if any of my questions denotes a significantly different answer between those two types, I'd be much obliged if you'd point that out! ;)
What cure/preservative agent should I use? I've heard good stuff about Tenderquick, but that's not locally available. I'm not against ordering it online, but did want to check to see what else might be out there?
Tenderquick: If I use TQ, I know I can mix it into "hamburger" jerky, but what would I do for thin sliced jerky? Marinate? Rub?
Nitrates/Nitrites/Nitesomething? I managed to get through my chemistry classes on a wing and a prayer. So the 2Ns are something I'm only passingly familiar with. I know they're used for preventing the micro-organism that causes botulism. However, there was also a big to-do not very long ago about it increasing cancer "risk".
Both of these suck if you get them and can kill you, so if there's away to avoid both that would be awesome. That being said, if there isn't. I'll take the 2Ns, avoid botulism, and hope to be one of the millions who *don't* get cancer.
Drying/Heating: I plan to use a food dehydrator for making my jerky. Some people have said that I need it to heat the meat as well (like 160 or something.) My dehydrator does not have a thermometer on it, the meat is probably going to be too thin to stick with a thermometer. Do I need to find one to stick in there? If so, how steady do I need to keep the heat? At what point would the batch be a "loss"?
Storage life: We plan to vacuum seal our jerky and then deep freeze it for long term storage. We'll have a pack in the fridge for short term munchies. I've heard it's not generally a problem, and I doubt it will be on our end as well, but how long does jerky last in the fridge?
Also, if we go camping/hiking or something, how long ought it to last in it's traditional "someone's backpack" environment?
Thanks so much! Can't wait to start making jerky! :D