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1st time making venison jerky - electric smoker at higher temp or cold smoker?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by jawjadawg, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. jawjadawg

    jawjadawg Newbie

    First time making any jerky, for that matter. I picked up several packs of jerky seasoning from Cabelas. Backwoods jerky seasoning, which contains salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite.

    I have an electric smoker and another that is setup as a cold smoker. Will I get better results in the oven, the electric smoker at higher temp, or the cold smoker? Will I be able to safely finish the product in the smoker or will it need to be brought inside to the oven? I am in Atlanta (where it is supposed to rain the next 4 days).

    Thank you for the input. I just registered and this is my first post. For years it seems like everytime I do any kind of search on smoking meats that I wind up getting my information here.
  2. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Unless it is incredibly hot and dry where you are and you have lot and lots of air flow (like a box fan blowing directly ont0 the meat) hotter smoking is the way to go.

    Just yesterday I put 8+ pounds of meats on the 5 rack dehydrator and an equal amount of meats in the MES30. Both were set at 160 degrees for the 1st 2 hours and then backed off to 120 degrees. To add to it I put a 10 CFM on the exhaust of the MES30 to help draw in cool dry air.

    Fast forward after the initial 2 hours. Both meats still pretty wet but the dehydrator was about 20% dryer.

    Fast forward 4 hours the dehydrator is clearly drying out the meats at a much faster pace.

    Fast forward several more hours take the finished meats off the dehydrator and take the meats from the smoker and put in the dehydrator to finish.

    Getting the meat to 160 degrees is a good thing as it kill of bad bacteria. If I would have kept the jerky at 160 for the total drying time in the dehydrator it'd probably only take 4 or 5 hours. For the record I also grossly overload the trays hagin meats touching and overlapping. I always try to get 5 or 6 pounds of meat on what is really only designed for about 4 pounds.

    The dehydrator hands down wins for making jerky. If you don;t have a dehydrator run the smoker at 160 for 2 hours and then back down to 140 degrees until done. If possible also add a fan to aid in the air flow.
    daveomak likes this.
  3. jawjadawg

    jawjadawg Newbie

    I agree that a dehydrator would be superior if I had that option. A fan is also not an option. Your answer doesn't really answer my question about which of the above methods I have available to me would be best.
  4. buzzy

    buzzy Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Looks like Holly got u heading the right direction. I just see u didn’t say if u were going to run smoke or not. If so don’t smoke long or that will be all u taste.
  5. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The best choice is whatever implement you have that can best reach and maintain 160 degrees for 2 hours then ramp down and maintain between 120/140 degrees with good airflow for the remaining time until the meats are dried to your liking.

    It could also be a combination of the aforementioned. You could cold smoke the meats move to the oven for 2 hours at 160 then move to the electric smoker set at 120/140 to finish out. If your oven is like mine 170 is the lowest it goes. To combat this I simply put a wooden spoon or a ball of aluminium foil in the door propping it open a little bit. With the use of a thermometer you can dial in the temp pretty good moving the spoon/foil to open or close gap in the door.

    A fan is not necessary as natural draft will ultimately wick away the moisture from the meats and be drawn out of the drying apparatus cavity. A mechanically induced draft just speeds up the process.

    If you are asking what I would choose it be a combo electric smoker and possibly the oven. I'd start in the electric smoker then after 6 or 8 hours if the meats were not drying as quickly as I'd like I'd move them to the oven.

    If you think you are going to get into making jerky on the even remotely regular basis save up for a dehydrator. Workable ones are currently less than $40 and you'll be able to do approximately 4-1/2lb batches or buy more trays and expand your capacity. With back friday coming up keep an eye out at WalMart, Target, Kohls, K-Mart etc. I'm sure one or more of them, will have a dehydrator for a exceptional price.

    I have a Chard 5 tray digital that is about $70. I just bought 8 more tray so I can dehydrate approximately 12 pounds of thin cut jerky or 14 to 16 pounds if making thicker cut jerky. But even then if a decent dehydrator pops up f/s on Black Friday in the $25 range I'd be very tempted.

    Good jerky is about $40 per pound. A $20 eye of round $6 in marinade ingredients and a $40 dehydrator you can make GREAT jerky. In less than one 5 pound run the dehydrator is paid for.
    chef jimmyj likes this.
  6. I've lived in that humid atmosphere before. My 2 cents worth is stick it in the cold smoker for 4-6 hours depending on how much smoke you like (I like a lot!). After that, transfer it to your oven with the door cracked open to finish it.

    I own an MES30 and it just stays too humid inside there for me to get jerky like I like it.

    p.s. I just saw that Cabelas is having dehydrators on sale for Black Friday!
  7. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    200*....8 hours....they will be perfect....
  8. I've always felt I would get more of a cooked product than a jerky'd product with temps that high. But then again, I can honestly say I've never tried it, so I don't really know.

    I'll be dad-gummed if you didn't convince me to try this method out with my next jerky batch.
  9. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Of course it depends on how thick you like your jerky. If you like it thin well 200* might be too hot for you. If the jerky is thick cut, 200* is the way to go IMO.
  10. StClair72

    StClair72 Newbie

    I'm about to put a batch of 1/4 inch thick slices of top round in my new char-broil 30" electric for jerky. It's 37 degrees here in Indiana today, so I was thinking 220* for 8 hours should do it.
  11. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    220 degrees is cooking the beef not jerking it!
  12. smokerjim

    smokerjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I made some a while back in my mes30, I started at 110 for two hours, 120 for 2 hours 130 2 hours 140 1 hour then 160 until fished which was about 3 more hours to my liking, it all depends on how dry you want to get it. I used smoke the first 4 hours.
  13. StClair72

    StClair72 Newbie

    What can I say...I'm a newbie, lesson learned..lol
  14. smokerjim

    smokerjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've been on here for a couple years and still learning lots from the pros, without mistakes I don't think we would learn.