Okay so I just started making jerky a couple-few weeks ago. So far I've come across a few issues.
Before I begin, I've learned very frustratingly that most of the information out there on jerky making is FAR from scientific. I've never seen so much "ehh, about as much as feels right" or other undefined things in my life. I am a Molecular and Cellular Biologist so all this wishy-washy stuff has had me pulling at my hair (figuratively of course)!
The topic of this thread:
*I use Ground Turkey (93% Lean/7% Fat) for all of my jerky. I will continue to use this until a consistently cheaper alternative comes along, which is unlikely to happen (besides Chicken).
I've been trying out various recipes found throughout a scouring of the internet that seem to have been "peer-reviewed" as the best recipes. What I have noticed however, is that after marinating, some recipes leave my ground turkey way too wet. When I go to load up the jerky into my Jerky Gun, it's obviously a mess (which I don't mind), but it's a pain in the behind considering that the entire premise of a jerky gun is to compress the meat out of the aperture/opening at the end of it. Liquid cannot be compressed (physical law). So I basically end up with jerky sticks that I end up forming by hand anyways (so why even have a jerky gun?), and as such the strips aren't so uniform. The wetness on this last batch (Recipe #3 below) actually resulted in the final jerky strip product basically existing on the edge of falling apart since the meat was never able to get compressed together enough to form tight enough cohesive bonds.
If I'm using Ground Meat instead of steaks, am I supposed to be adjusting the volumes by some scale factor? Is there maybe some max amount of volume of marinade to use, say, "per lb of meat?" There have been HUGE variation in the total amount of volume called for by various recipes, even though they're supposedly for the same amount of meat (by weight).
* For example: The first recipe I tried (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/docs-best-beef-jerky/) called for a total of 4 fluid ounces of marinade:
2 Oz Soy Sauce + 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce + 2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke = 4 fl oz total
*The second recipe I tried (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/beef-jerky-recipe.html) called for a total of 11.33 fluid ounces of marinade:
5.33 Oz (i.e. 2/3 cup) Worcestershire Sauce + 5.33 Oz Soy Sauce + 0.5 Oz (i.e. 1 Tbsp) Honey + .167 Oz (i.e. 1 teaspoon) Liquid Smoke = 11.33 fl oz total
*The third recipe I tried just yesterday (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/11/20/how-to-make-the-best-beef-jerky-in-the-world/) called for a total of 20.00 fluid ounces of marinade:
5.33 Oz Soy Sauce + 5.33 Oz Worcestershire Sauce + 5.33 Oz Soy Vay Teriyaki Sauce (aka "Soyaki") + 2.67 Oz Liquid Smoke + 1.33 Oz Dark Corn Syrup = 20.00 fl oz total
Okay so, now note the ridiculous numbers on those marinades (if you haven't noticed already).
Recipe #2 calls for literally 283% MORE marinade than the first recipe, and Recipe #3 calls for literally, exactly 500% MORE (5x more!!) marinade than the first recipe.. for the same amount of meat! (I am trying recipes out with 1.5 - 2.0 lbs of ground meat)
Recipe #1 came out fine in terms of wetness. That is, forming the strips with the jerky gun was really easy and felt like that's how it should be (fortunately this happened to be my first recipe I tried out). What I'm wondering is, am I missing something or why the hell are there so many recipes out there that have vastly overly proportioned amounts of marinade? What is the point at which going beyond 'that' amount of marinade yields diminishing returns on added flavor? Why are these people calling for so much? I've read countless.. and I mean countless amounts of posts, topics, etc. and never once did I see anybody mention that "oh yeah by the way if you're using ground meat, use <this percentage less> of each of these ingredients"
So then, it begs the question:
What amount, in your experience, is perfect for getting maximum flavor in the meat while not being just downright gluttonously excessive on the volume? I feel like I'm being incredibly wasteful seeing how much volume disparity there is - there must be some actual "optimum" determined values from people's experiences..? If the entire premise of making your own jerky is to save on costs, it should be obvious how illogical it seems to be so gluttonous (wasteful?) on the marinade volume.
So, what gives?
Thanks for any input, I appreciate ALL of it!