1st attempt at Jerky in MES 40

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by maplenut, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. maplenut

    maplenut Fire Starter

    Tried my 1st attempt at making Jerky in my MES 40 today, I had mixed results.


    I used 5lb eye of round sliced on a meat slicer to about 3/16" thick.

    I had some jerky mix that I had gotten from the Sausage Maker. It was Uncle Abe's seasoning.

    Mixed this packet of season with a cup of water and then added 1 tsp of cure#1. I then poured this over the sliced eye of round and tossed it all together until there was almost no liquid left.

    I then covered the bowl and put in Frig over night, It ended up being about 24 hrs.

    I was going off the directions on the box that the seasoning came in, it stated that I needed to smoke/dry the meat at 115 degrees for 4-8 hours.

    So I set the smoker temp to 120 and once the smoker was up to temp, about 15 minutes, it was 14 degrees out today. I then placed the racks of jerky in. I tried the skewer method of hanging the jerky from the racks.

    I left the jerky in the smoker for about 1 hr without any wood chips.

    At the 1 hr mark I put a loader full of wood chips in. I kept an eye on things and seeing steam/smoke coming out the fully open vent and temp holding steady at 120 everything was ok.

    After the 2hr mark I went to check on the wood chips and found that basically it was just the way I had loaded them. I did the checking by peering thru the chip loader hole.

    I left it go for another hr and checked once more, still same unburnt wood chips. I decided at that point that what I was seeing coming out the vent was steam and not smoke. I figured that the set temp was just too low for the wood chips to get going. So I bumped up the temp to 150. After an hour I checked things and the wood chips were now burnt and need more added.

    I kept doing this every hour, without opening the front door.

    Around the 6 hour mark I did open the door to do a quick check on how the meat was drying. The jerky hanging above the chip loader side was looking good and I should have removed them at the point. The lower rack was no where near done.

    At things go till the 8 hr mark. Top rack of jerky was all but done, there was a few that had a very center strip that was not as dry as I wished. The bottom rack was still not done.

    Let things go for 1 more hour. Pulled the top rack out. Everything looked good except 2 pieces that had folded in half while hanging and did not dry very good.

    I pulled the bottom rack and maybe half still need to be dried a little longer, so I removed them from the skewers and just placed them on a rack and placed them in the top location in the smoker and let them go for another hour.

    I let them cool on the kitchen counter for awhile and then tried an few.

    I personally like a dry chewy jerky, most are like this but there are a few that are a little too soft for my liking. they were the larger of the pieces. I would not wanted to let them in any longer cause the edges would of been rock hard, so not sure how I will correct that.

    What would I do differently?

    I would make my pieces not as wide. Long slender strips. May not use skewers either, there was no way to remove any jerky that was done before the others.

    I think I would also start out at a higher temp. maybe 140-150. I like the idea of low and slow but I also want to add smoke flavor and that was just not happening at 120.

    Any tips and tricks would be great. If you see that I did anything wrong let me know.

    Jerky hanging in the smoker

    Finished Jerky

  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Never made jerky before, but yours sure looks good from here!

  3. wayne gray

    wayne gray Newbie

    Looks great! Next time try finishing it off in dehydrator. You can drie it to your liking.
  4. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    I would suggest doing a mail box mod and getting an AMNPS and some pellets. With this mod you can have smoke at any temperature.

    Keep Smokin!!!


    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
  5. maplenut

    maplenut Fire Starter

    Thanks for the tips.

    I have been thinking about the mailbox mod.

    Are my temps good?
    Was I ok starting out at 120, or should I have started a little high temp, say 150?
  6. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I've made a lot of jerky over the last twenty years. When someone gave me a MES 30" as a gift three months ago, jerky was one of the first things I tried. I've now done about half a dozen jerky smokes and have learned a few things.

    1. Smoke. If you are using an electric, forget about using it as the source of smoke. Because of the low temperatures involved, you must use some external source of smoke. Most people in this forum who smoke with an electric recommended I get the 5x8 AMNPS (from A-Maze-N Products). Using this made a HUGE difference in the quality of the end product. You can go one step further and put this into a mailbox mod, but you don't need to take that step right away. My recommendation is to get the AMNPS, and use it inside your smoker. Then, if you want more control, and slightly more refined smoke, go with the mod.

    2. Temperature, part 1. You asked about temperature. If you scan regular jerky recipes (i.e., not those for smokers), you'll see that most of them are designed for a dehydrator. I don't own one of these gadgets, but most of them operate at about 120 degrees. Before I got my smoker, I approximated this environment by using the convection setting on my full-sized oven, set at the lowest temperature, which is 140 degrees. While this is a little hotter than a real dehydrator, it gets the job done. I usually open the oven door every half hour or so to make sure I let moisture escape.

    3. Temperature, part 2. But what about the temperature in the smoker? I've tried several things, but have not done a scientific set of tests, the way "Bear" does with some of his amazing recipes. However, I have tried everything from 120 up to 160 degrees. There are two things to think about when choosing temperature. The first is food safety. While jerky has lots of salt, and perhaps a curing agent (I make mine without using any cure), you still are probably better off by getting it over 140 degrees for at least some amount of time. The second issue is smoke. I think temperature affects the smoke taste. I could be wrong, but I find that hot smoked meat has a flavor that I find more appealing than what I have been able to get with colder (or actual cold) smokes. This may in part be due to not having a mailbox mod. I also think that food absorbs the smoke better when it is a little hotter. 

    4. Time. How long to smoke? I certainly would not want to smoke the jerky for the entire drying time. For me, the smoke would get overwhelming. I like a balance between the spices, the salt, and the smoke. So, for the last few batches, I have been smoking the sliced jerky for 2-3 hours at 160 degrees. I then bring it inside to my convection oven, and finish it at 140 degrees (the minimum temperature I can set) for 5-8 hours, or whatever it takes to get the texture and moisture I want.

    I posted my recipe a few days ago in another thread. Here is a link to that post:

    Beef Jerky Recipe

    Enjoy your jerky!!
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
    maplenut likes this.
  7. maplenut

    maplenut Fire Starter

    Thank you for that info, I figured that at some point I would get an amps. It just might be sooner than I originally thought.

Share This Page