Need help making jerky on Electric Smoker

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Dec 4, 2006
Trying to make some jerky on my Electric Masterbuilt, and I'm about ready to stick my head in the smoker!

First off, I went to the hardware store and bought some screen. I cut a couple of pieces down to the same size as my Masterbuilt racks...then I laid them over the slick!

I seasoned up some lean ground beef, put it in the jerky shooter, filled up three racks....everything looks awesome up to this point. Put it in the smoker, set the time to 4 hours, temp to 180 degrees, and walk away. This is where things get ugly.

As I keep looking at the smoker, I notice that the temp is not getting up to 180 very easy, I believe that the bottom rack of meat is blocking the heat, so it's not getting very hot up at the top of the smoker. Sure enough, after about 2 hours and 45 minutes, the jerky on the bottom rack is dry and brittle, pretty much not fit to eat, and the jerky on the top is not even close to being done........anybody have a solution for making jerky on this Smoker? I'm pretty sure the bottom rack is blocking the heat and keeping it all toward the bottom of the Smoker.

Am I going to have to stand right over this thing, and pull the racks out at intervals? It looks like the bottom rack probably should have come out at about 2 hours......which isn't really 'slow dried' like jerkey should be, but flat out cooked.

Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
Hi JR.S !
You need to trash the screen wire. It probably filled up the little holes with grease and stopped the air-flow right quickly.
If you want to use "extruded" ground beef you must support it and leave room for air to get around and about inside

180* seems too warm a temp for dehydrating to me.
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only thing i can think of is to rotate your racks every hour put top rack on bottom bottom rack on top jerky is tough when you first start smoking it trying to get the right texture but once you figure it out it will be worth the trouble ground jerky cooks a lot faster then whole muscle meat jerky i can do a batch of ground jerky in the gosm in about 2-3 hours and i rotate the racks good luck to ya hope you figure it out soon
"First off, I went to the hardware store and bought some screen"
Was that galvanized screen by any chance? I'd get it out of there and toss it, PRONTO! The stuff that is given off from galvanized metal is nothing you want to put in your body.
Thanks for the replies.

I'll try a lower temp, rotate the racks every hour, and cut down on the drying time. Not having made jerky before, I think I don't really know when to take it out. Someone else just told me on the phone, to get it out when it still has some moisture inside, because after it sits on the counter, it'll end up being drier than you think. I've been checking for moisture, and not taking it out until it's TOTALLY dry inside, and after it sits to cool off, it's WAY to dry and done.

Back to the freezer for some more ground beef, and try again!!!!!

PS.....Actually the screens worked great, there was VERY LITTLE grease in it, although I may have had so much meat on the racks that it probably kept the heat from getting through....I'll rotate it next time and it won't matter so much.
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I did mine in the oven at 150 for the 1st 30 minutes and 170 after that. That was on the instructions for the mix.

Hmmm I believe window screen is galvinized ...

Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!
hmmmm....I didn't realize that galvanized screen would give off something bad, time for a different plan! The pizza screens look like a good idea.....

I probably should just get a dehydrator for jerky, but I'm stubborn! I am bound and determined to make this $200 smoker cook jerky.
:-) to be honest I tried regular jerking in my masterbuilt was okay but I still preferr my burger jerky. as for a you can pick up a nesco american harvest one at walmart for 39 bucks and it works great.......
I guess I'm not that stubborn, I bought a Dehydrator at Wal Mart yesterday. It's much easier and makes great jerky!
that it fact the little lady was just informing that I "need" to make some more jerky........

right now I'm working on making the home version of jimmy dean sage and then pressing it into a 4" round to make a "mega" fattie that will fit onto regular english muffins or bagels!!!!!
Some, but not all, galvanized coatings have a small amount of lead so not good in direct contact with food.  At smoker temperatures nothing bad will be released except in direct contact with the food. Some folks avoid trash cans for home built smokers as a result of this urban legend but there is no science behind it.   The primary ingredient in galvanized, zinc, is not particularly toxic.  
I use a combo of smoker and dehydrator. Cold smoke in the mes up to 100 degrees then put in the cabelas dryer. Done both lean beef strips and ground from jerky gun. You may try the q-matz from Amazn Products. Great for jerky, fish, and other drlicate or small items.
Galvanization originally used arsenic (a metal) to bond zinc to steel.  If it was not thoroughly washed off, it killed you.  

I heard a terrible carpenter story (dunno accuracy, but it got my attention) about a carpenter who held nails in his lips

(old common practice) before placing them on wood surface and driving them in.  He got a handful of unwashed galvanized

nails and died very uncomfortably.  I've been real leery of galvanized steel since hearing that story 55 years ago.  

I  think the galvanization process must be safer now.  

       Ray Taylor, Vero Beach    
When I smoke jerky I have discovered a really good way to maximize the rack space. I push the meat up thru the rack a bit from the bottom an skew it with a tooth pick. This way it hangs down and thought the rack. The whole piece is exposed to the heat and smoke evenly. All racks are exposed to the heat and smoke. I do rotate the racks and remove the jerky that is done at that time.
If you get a cardboard box just a bit smaller than your racks you cut the top and front of the box out so the rack sits on the top and you can feed thru the front. Very nice and easy way to string the meat. Do not load the jerky close to the edges because when you load in the smoker they will bunch up on the sides. Hope this helps you out.
I have made jerky in the smoker too, it turned out really good,  I used moose meat strips. Seasoned it to my liking and brushed it with hickory liquid smoke flavor.  

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