Jerky for Dummies??

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by ddave, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Okay, the dummy would be me. Never made it before but would like to. (Why didn't I pay more attention to my Dad when I was younger? [​IMG] He made some AWESOME jerky.)

    Anyway, what I have found so far from reading and searching the forum is:

    Start with a really lean cut of meat. Top round? Others? Slice with the grain for more chew -- across the grain for easier chew.

    High Mountain Jerky Cure (Cracked Pepper and Garlic sounds yummy!) Follow the instructions I guess.

    Smoke (or heat) very low 140? 160? 180? until . . . dry? (Don't know how low the Afterbuner will go and still stay lit. May have to get creative to keep the temps down.)

    What have I missed? Lots I am sure. Any suggestions and pointers would be greatly appreciated.


  2. earache_my_eye

    earache_my_eye Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Sounds like you have a pretty good grasp on it, Dave. Really, any lean cut of meat will work....usually jerky is made from cheaper/tougher cuts.

    If you can get your afterburner to hold 150-160*, that should work just fine for you. If you can get it lower to do your initial smoking, that might even be better. Smoke between 2 and 4 hours.....your call.....and spend the rest of the time drying at the higher temp (150-160).....or, if you have a dehydrator, smoke first, finish in the dehydrator. When it's done, it should still be a little flexible...not crumbly.

  3. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Creative? How bout don't use the burner? I use about a half chimney in the WSM for jerky.
  4. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What cuts should I look for at the grocery store/butcher shop?

    Well, you got me there. [​IMG] That's an option. But the burner is sooo damn convenient.

    I guess I could pick up a bag of Cowboy [​IMG] and do a charcoal smoke. I should certainly be able to get 140 - 160 out of that. Certainly would be a different experience trying to keep the temps low instead of fighting to get them high. [​IMG]

  5. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well, use the burner to light the charcoal if ya GOTTA use it ;{)
  6. placebo

    placebo Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I know I'm pretty much alone on this but I go by the Hi Mountain instructions and they suggest smoking at 200* for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. That formula works absolutely perfect for me.

    I usually get either an eye of round roast or some top round steaks. They are usually the leanest cuts at a decent price.

    I've tried the cracked pepper and garlic and it is good but I prefer the original with some Smitty's Dust added.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
  7. abelman

    abelman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For what it's worth, I finally decided to try jerky and finally got around to doing it.

    I use High Mountain cure which takes 24 hours based on how thin/thinck the meat is sliced. I've done about 8 lbs of meat over the last couple of weeks. I found a pretty lean Top Round on sale here for $1.99 a lb and figure it was a good place to start.

    Prior to the cure, I have been playing around with a recipe or I should say making one up. I've tried regular with pepper powder, some with Terriaki marinade and the one I like by far the best is Allegro Hot and Spicy which I add some Apple cider vinegar, some brown sugar and some Thai Dragon powder. I let that soak for 20-24 hours. I then use the hot/spicy High Mountain Cure. Just follow the directions and it's easy. I've been doing 1 lb batches and experimenting along the way.

    I throw it on the dehydrator at 135 degrees and let it go for 8 hours.
  8. justsmoke2

    justsmoke2 Smoking Fanatic

    I also use a food dehydrater for making jerky. MIne is recommended for 165 and I have blower motor on it also. My racks usely hold about a pound of jerky and I figure 1 hour to the pound as a starting point. I will smoke it first in my GOSM for the first hour. Then finish in the dehydrater, I have found that I don't over dry it this way. I like my on the soft side not where you have to have 2 hands to rip it from your teeth.
    I used to use London Broil and or Sirloin tip roast. I used to get LB at 1 1/2 thickness but for some reason I can't get it anymore. New owners of the meat market. I also used to be able to find the sirloin at a dollar a pound but alas that has gone by the wayside also.
    Being a diabetic I asked my dietician about eating jerky. So said knock myself out cause making it myself I will be making a leaner cut then store bought and substitute with my normal meat portions. Plus its low in cholesterial to.
  9. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, a test done earlier this week seems to suggest that the Afterburner "may" be able to stay lit and keep the smoker under 160. Ran for a couple of hours with the smoker empty and then the temp started creeping up above 160 -- but it was 98 frickin' degrees on the patio that afternoon. If it ever cools down here (99 again today) should work okay with some meat in the smoker. I can always prop the top open a bit if it starts to creep.

    Ordered the jerky cure last week. Kids have soccer games every Saturday from now until November 8th so I couldn't get anything on the smoker until about 1 or 2 pm. I don't like to leave it completely unattended. Will either do it on a Sunday or wait until soccer is over. Outside temps should definitely be cooler by then.

  10. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now I am somewhat confused. [​IMG]

    The Hi Mountain Jerky kit came and on the instructions it says to smoke for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at 200 as Placebo said. But the confusing part was that the instructions also said that "the meat must reach an internal temperature of 165 to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria". I thought that was what the cure was for??[​IMG] If I smoke it at 150 to 160 it will never reach 165. I thought I was just supposed to dry it -- not cook it!!

    Any clarification would be most appreciated.


  11. guvna

    guvna Smoking Fanatic

    when i bought my afterburner ed hooked me up with a couple of different jet sizes for different temp ranges. with a .035 jet it will hold temps as low as 130. i bet you're using the "standard" jet (.052) and that's for temps of 200-300 degrees. i'm sure ed will mail you diff size jets for like $5. here's a link to some jerky i made.

    hope that helps...
  12. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    yeah, the cure will stop the harmful stuff. and i know rich will agree........but on a personal note ( and rich will scream at me for saying so) i don't use a cure.........haven't in close to 30 years of doing jerky, and i am still kicking it. Like others here have said, eric, i give it some smoke, and finish up in the dehydrator.............till it bends just short of snapping in two.......i also cut across the grain. to me, WITH the grain, you got dental floss........lolol
  13. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the tip. I'll have to send Ed an email. He is a great guy to deal with.

    WD, I don't have a dehydrator so I will have to stick with the smoker . . . or oven[​IMG] . Thanks for clearing up the cure question and also the description of how to tell when it is done. I remember the first jerky my Dad made in the oven . . . it was like a meat cracker . . . very tasty but it exploded in your mouth when you bit into it. Dried a little too long. He fine tuned it after that and made some AWESOME jerky.

  14. the original forntier recipe for jerky is very simple.

    Slice the meat very thinly, rub with salt and a few herbs, suspend over a small smoky fire fire till dry - the fire is to provide a rising warm air current - NOT to cook the meat. The smoke was as much to keep the insects off the meat as to flavour the jerky.

    If the meat is thin enough then the salt and drying alone are sufficient to make jerky. All the rest of the junk you get in modern cures has been added in recent decades - primarily for commercial reasons.

    Genuine traditional jerky was simply very thin meat salted and air dried.
  15. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Finally . . . after almost a month of talking about it . . . I finally am going to make some jerky this Sunday. Boy, the soccer games, birthday parties, etc, etc, have been playing heck with my smoking schedule. [​IMG]

    Plan on picking up some top round on Thursday or Friday. Hopefully I can get the butcher to slice it into 1/4" slices, mix up the seasoning and cure on Saturday and put it on the smoker on Sunday.

    Or I could possibly back everything up and smoke it on Saturday . . . if I knew how much "time" it would take.[​IMG] (Sorry, WD) I'm not looking for an exact time . . .just a range. Say I am doing 3 pounds of 1/4" slices with the smoker at 160 and it is about 75 degrees outside on a propane-fired SnP. Am I looking at 3 hours like a fattie or 9 hours like a butt. If it is closer to 3, I could possibly do it Saturday after the soccer games. Or I could wait til Sunday . . . it's not like I haven't been waiting long already.

  16. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Dave, when i do jerky, smoke it LOW low as i can get my smoker to go........smoke couple hours, then finish up in the dehydrator.........doing it that way, you woun't be pressed for "TIME"
  17. placebo

    placebo Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Going by the instructions provided, set the smoker for 200* and you will be done NLT two and a half hours later provided you cut your jerky at a 1/4" or less. Time is precious for me and this method allows me to do jerky during the week which is a GREAT thing!
  18. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't have a dehydrator . . . and my oven will only go down to 170. [​IMG] I wasn't worried about being pressed for time, I just didn't want to wait until Sunday. Been a long time since I smoked something so I am getting anxious.

    But . . I think I will wait . . . take my time and make a nice relaxing day of it. Been smoking so rarely lately that I want to savor it.

  19. meat magician

    meat magician Smoke Blower

    Best ever jerky (for my taste at least) works great for beef but I use it for venison mainly

    16 oz Lite soy sauce (regular makes it to salty for me)
    8 oz apple juice
    8 oz water
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup salt w/out iodine
    1 tbls garlic and onion powder
    1 tsp cayenne pepper

    Mix all till dissolved and add you meat, I cut it about 1/4" thick. Let it marinate for at least 12 hours stiring occasionally. Lay out some paper towles and allow all the meat to drain then lay the meat on the towels to air dry for at least another 12 hours. Next I smoke it for 2 hour with either cherry or hickory then no smoke at 160-170 degrees till it's done which is about 7-8 hours in the pit. I made a buch last week to get rid of a few roast and a backstrap from last year stuff came out phenominal.

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