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Made ground venison jerky last weekend. Thoughts?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

So last weekend I used this guys method to make ground venison jerky. I did about a pound and a half and it turned out amazing. It was in my masterbuilt gas smoker for 3 hours at around 175. The temp dipped into the 150s once or twice and jumped a couple times into 190s as well, but mostly in the 170s. I want to make more this weekend but I have a question that I can't find a straight up answer to online.

All I added to the meat was a small (less than 1/4 cup) amount of soy sauce and some garlic powder and onion powder. I didn't use any cure or straight up salt. I've been keeping the jerky in the fridge. Am I ok not using cure if I'm smoking at those temps and storing in the fridge for the week or so that it will last? I'm trying to avoid as much sodium as I can.

post #2 of 23

Any meat or food that is smoked below 190 def. F, should have nitrite in it to kill off the possibility of growing botulism......


Adding 1 gram or so, of cure #1 per pound of meat, will go a long way in food borne illness prevention...    botulism is the deadliest pathogen known to man...




The Botulism Organism

There currently are seven known types of Clostridium botulinum bacteria. These differ in such characteristics as proteolytic activity, tolerance to salt and reduced water activity, minimum growth temperature and heat resistance.

The proteolytic type A, B and F strains produce very heat-resistant spores which are a major concern in the processing of low-acid foods. These types digest proteins in foods and produce a foul odor that may warn consumers of spoilage.

The nonproteolytic B, E and F strains can grow at refrigerated temperatures, but produce spores of very low heat resistance. These types cause problems primarily in pasteurized or unheated foods. Because they are nonproteolytic, no off-odor or evidence of spoilage may be produced with toxin development.

Type C strains cause botulism in birds, turtles, cattle, sheep and horses. Type D is associated with forage poisoning of cattle and sheep in Australia and South Africa. No outbreaks of type G have been reported; however, type G has been isolated in cases of sudden and unexpected death in humans.

Inactive Clostridium botulinum spores are found in soil and water throughout the world. In the spore form, these bacteria are relatively harmless. The problem occurs when the spores germinate into vegetative or actively growing cells. As the vegetative cells grow they become overpopulated and begin to die. As they do, they produce the deadly neurotoxin that causes botulism.

Type A toxin is more lethal than types B and E. The toxin is a protein which can be inactivated by heating at 180 degrees F for 10 minutes. The toxin can be absorbed into the blood stream through the respiratory mucous membranes as well as through the wall of the stomach and intestine.

Several conditions must be present for the germination and growth of Clostridium botulinum spores. Acid level is a primary factor. A pH near 7 or neutral favors the growth of Clostridium botulinum, while growth is inhibited at a pH of 4.6 or lower. The pH of a food also influences the amount of heat needed to kill C. botulinum spores; the higher the pH, the greater the level of heat needed.

A second important factor affecting the growth and toxin production is temperature. Proteolytic types grow between 55 and 122 degrees F, with most rapid growth occurring at 95 degrees F. Nonproteolytic types grow between 38 and 113 degrees F, with an optimum for growth and toxin production at about 86 degrees F. For these types, refrigeration above 38 degrees F may not be a complete safeguard against botulism.

Another important condition affecting the growth of Clostridium botulinum is the presence of oxygen. These organisms can’t grow if air or free oxygen is present in their microenvironment (the area immediately next to them). This area is so small that it is not readily observed. Therefore, it is possible to have conditions develop in a food system or wound whereby it appears that lots of air is available, but in reality there are areas where no air is present and anaerobic organisms, such as Clostridium botulinum, if present, can germinate and grow. Anaerobic conditions develop when food is canned. If the food is not heated enough to kill the spores of Clostridium botulinum, the spores will germinate and grow during subsequent storage of the food.

Canning is not the only condition in the manufacture and preservation of foods in which anaerobic conditions can develop. Smoked fish can develop anaerobic conditions in the visceral cavity and under the skin. The interior of sausage also may become anaerobic during the preservation process. Anaerobic conditions capable of supporting the growth of C. botulinum also have developed in such foods as chopped garlic in oil, foil-wrapped baked potatoes, roasted chili peppers in plastic bags, canned cheese sauce, sauteed onions, turkey loaves, meat stews and pot pies left at room temperature or in a warming oven overnight. In these cases the original baking killed competing organisms and eliminated much of the oxygen in the micro-environment under the crust, foil or buttery coating. Subsequent storage at warm temperatures created an ideal environment for the germination and growth of botulinum spores. For these types of foods, growth of Clostridium botulinum is inhibited by storage at a low temperature (below 38 degrees F) and/or the use of a preservative, such as sodium nitrite.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
So USDA is incomplete in this statement? They are saying 160 is safe. 3 hours at 170 should get it there, right?

From USDA website:
Why is temperature important when making jerky? Illnesses due to Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 from homemade jerky raise questions about the safety of traditional drying methods for making beef and venison jerky. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat. But most dehydrator instructions do not include this step, and a dehydrator may not reach temperatures high enough to heat meat to 160 °F or 165 °F.

After heating to 160 °F or 165 °F, maintaining a constant dehydrator temperature of 130 to 140 °F during the drying process is important because:

the process must be fast enough to dry food before it spoils; and
it must remove enough water that microorganisms are unable to grow.
post #4 of 23

Hey Arnie...... You are totally mixing apples, oranges, pork, beef and chicken in this argument....  So, what is your question...????.....

post #5 of 23

that USDA article sounds to be talking about literally cooking the meat to an IT of 160 (165 for chicken) then drying in a cooler dehydrator at 130-140... that would avoid the need for curing, but i think you are assuming all the temps relate to the smoker/dehydrator temp.


i think i get the question... your smoker was at 170 and your asking if that's hot enough and at 3 hours, is that long enough to kill food borne pathogens right?



if so, my answer is, i have no idea... you can't keep meat uncured between 40 and 140 for longer than 4 hours... my assumption is 170 is not going to get it out of that danger zone quick enough because all recommended temps are generally designed to beat that 40-140 in 4 hours are generally above 225... is this mitigated by how thin you cut it? could be but reading an article like this http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/mythbusting_letting_meat_come_to_room_temp.html makes me think it won't.


cure won't hurt you if you use the right amount, but it could kill you or a loved one to skip it.

post #6 of 23
In my honest opinion I wouldn't make venison jerky without using cure. The amount of cure #1 needed to cure 5 pounds of meat isn't going to break the bank on your sodium intake. If you think it is then remove more of the soy sauce. It has more sodium than the cure.
post #7 of 23
One more note on the temps mentioned. You need to get to the 160-165 quickly, it is recommended that you set your oven to 275, allow the oven to come up to 275 then put the meat in. Pull it at 160-165, then dehydrate.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry you're confused. I was going by what I just read on the USDA website. Are they ignoring botulism in that statement?

So you're saying 160 is not a sufficient internal temp to kill everything without using cure? That's all I'm asking.
post #9 of 23

160 is sufficient  so long as you get from 4-140 faster than 4 hours... botulism will be dead but it's toxins will not... it's toxins don't break down until well over 200. as long as you get from 40-140 faster than 4 hours, there was not sufficient time for botulism to grow and produce toxic levels of botulism toxins


if you cooked your meat completely before drying it in your smoker... you have nothing to worry about. if you think cooking it in a 170 smoker from raw is sufficient, you 'might' be right, but it depends.

post #10 of 23

actually i looked that jerky spice product up... it contains sodium nitrate... if you are following the directions correctly, you should be safe regardless of drying temps


EDIT: never mind... i see you didn't use that product.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
If it's too close to say for certain, then I'm going to err on the side of caution and try the cure.

Where can I get some at? People seem to be suggesting #1 over TenderQuick?
post #12 of 23

Arnie, morning....   There are several factors that influence making jerky.....   Did you read what I posted ???


In a dehydrator, to point to your second post, there is adequate oxygen that botulism will not grow...  botulism grows in an anaerobic environment...  it is the other bacteria and pathogens that are killed at temps of 160 deg. F...  

If the meat is allowed to sit at lower temps for an extended period of time, and dehydrate, those pathogens will dehydrate and not be killed... that is where the importance of "cooking" the meat and any pathogens prior to dehydration comes into play...  dehydrated pathogens have shown a good survival rate when heated above 160...


Now to your process....   smoking jerky in a gas fired smoker....  

The smoldering wood and the flame on the burner are consuming oxygen...  That makes for a depleted oxygen environment where the meat is sitting...  botulism ...   The toxin is a protein which can be inactivated by heating at 180 degrees F for 10 minutes.  .  Nitrite kills the botulism toxin....   It has been written, When smoking foods, cure #1 or nitrite must be added to prevent botulism...  that holds true as long as smoking temps are under 190...  some sites recommend staying above 220, which if just fine...  

Once the meat gets to 160, all the other pathogens are killed...  now you have to kill the botulism...   a steep temperature ramp to get the meat up to 160 and/or 190 is necessary if you are NOT using cure #1 because the length of time in the "growing temperature zone" has an effect on pathogen growth....


When adding smoke, use nitrite...  1 tsp. per 5#'s of stuff...

When using a dehydrator, cook the meat to 160, then dehydrate....


Hope I didn't screw up the explanation....   if I did, let me know...



post #13 of 23

tenderquick will add a lot of sodium and you'd likely want to cut your soy sauce a bit... i buy DC (which is cure#1 or Prague powder or instacure#1) at butcher packer for 3.50 a pd but their shipping can be a deal breaker if that's all you need. Amazon is always a good option.


either will work... i choose cure#1 for almost everything because it's such a small amount (1 tsp/5pds of meat) that it doesn't change a recipe at all. if i wanted to use a dry brine designed for hot smoking, i could add cure#1 and have the same thing but now able to cold smoke it... some people think that tenderquick contains so much sodium that it will account for all of your sodium in a reciepe... it is easier to get though locally normally and it has sodium nitrate as well as sodium nitrite which would allow you to have it more shelf stable at above refrigerator temps

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
I didn't get to look around for some cure last night. So what if I start the jerky in the smoker at 275 for (how long?) and then turn them back down to 170 until they are desired dryness?

Keep in mind this is ground venison and it's only going to be 1/8" thick. So not really able to take internal temp.

Thanks guys for all your help.
Edited by arnie4176 - 9/24/16 at 7:22am
post #15 of 23

Arnie... morning....  here's another bit of info that will throw a curve..   trying to get unwrapped meat up to 190 and higher, can be a bit of a struggle...   evaporative cooling is the culprit...   shows up as the "dreaded stall" in things like pork butt...  as the meat heats up, the water starts to evaporate.. thus cooling the meat... it's the same effect as us sweating...  roasts have been known to stall for hours...    Sooooo, the point of this drivel is...  you will not know when the temp gets to 190 for 10 minutes...  


Now, to be up front, you will probably be safe with an honest attempt to get the meat to 190.....  but the chance exists, although very slim,  you or your family could get deathly ill...  the odds may be 1,000,000:1 but I'm not gutsy enough to tell you "don't follow the food safety rules"...   If one of my grandkids got ill from food I prepared, especially after I know what I know about food safety, I think I'd need a rubber room......


So, knowing what you know now, take your very best shot....     Dave



Butcher & Packer has cure #1 for a fair price...   They have other supplies you may need also...


post #16 of 23
Amazon has cure #1 also. You can buy a pound (enough to last a lifetime) and if your a prime customer have it shipped for free to you in two days.

Again I wouldn't process jerky or sausage from wild game without using cure.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link. $9.75 for shipping unfortunately. I do have Amazon prime, so that's probably the way I'll go. I could check the local Cabelas, they might have something, huh?

How long does it have to cure for?
post #18 of 23
Cabelas carries cure #1.

I would cure over night for ground meat. Mix the cure in with your other spices, mix into the meat and place in a non reactive container. Cover and into the fridge over night. Next day form your jerky and smoke.

1 teaspoon cure #1 per five pounds of meat
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
My local Cabelas is only an "Outpost", and they didn't have the speed cure, so I got a jerky kit that has cure. I'll give it a shot per the box instructions. I'll post pictures and let you guys know how it goes tomorrow.

post #20 of 23

Cool....  Excellent choice.....   2thumbs.gif  ....

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