Originally Posted by Brandon Kennedy
New to this forum and jerky making. I bought cabela's 6 tray dehydrator and hi mountain spices. I used Eye of round meat with low fat and cut my pieces 1/4" thick. I let the meat sit for 30hrs before dehydrating. I did the following times
1hr 45 minutes at 160degs
turned to 150 degs for 30 minutes
turned to 145 degs for 6 hrs.
My jerky was cooled and tested to see if it cracked when bent and it did. some pieces were crunchy on the outside but still tasted good.
My question is my meat has a dark maroon color. I am used to fresh jerky being black or dark brown. Is this okay to be this color or did i do something wrong?
Short answer: sounds like you did nothing wrong, and the color is normal.
When you say you let it sit for 30 hours, do you mean refrigerated curing time?
I'm assuming the High Mountain had 2 packets to add to the meat, one being cure, the other being seasonings, and also that you weighed the trimmed, sliced meat before adding the packet contents. I haven't used that brand, but most (if not all) commercially produced jerky seasoning kits have a cure packet and a seasoning packet for each pound of meat. Forgive me, but I only used one brand, briefly, and I haven't used the jerky spice kits for a long time...I mix my own cure and seasoning blend ratios per my batch weights.
If cure was properly applied and allowed sufficient time, this is much of what caused the meat to remain more of a deep red to mahogany color when dried. Cured meat has a temperature stable pigment caused from the cure reacting with myoglobin (not to be confused with hemoglobin) in the muscle tissues. This pigment color remains, even after cooking, heated drying, chilling, or freezing. It's normal, and has similar characteristics to what we call smoke ring in smoked meats.
As for jerky texture, you can get more of a chew than a snap/crunch with a bit less drying time, if that's what you're shooting for. Keep track of your time/temp and make adjustments as you see fit for your desired finished product. Also, if you're in a moderate to high humidity climate you can take a smaller bag of finished jerky and crack it open for several hours to slightly re-hydrate it before eating, if the texture is too dry. A quick hit in the nuke-box with a couple pieces wrapped in a damp paper towel will achieve the same results...just let it cool for a few minutes before enjoying.
Jerky isn't difficult to get the way you want once you know the basics. Main thing is to follow kit instructions, especially regarding the curing, and minimum drying temps...this will assure your safety when consuming the finished product. As to how long to dry during the finishing stage, just remember, drier stores longer at shelf temps, and can be partially re-hydrated, if desired. Less dry = shorter shelf storage time...can be frozen for long periods of time, though.
The jerky processes that scare me are the marinated uncured recipes...some don't really focus much attention to pasteurization of the meat prior to drying...that can cause food safety issues. When cured, jerky is pretty hard to botch up...I'm living proof...LOL!!!