Newbie needs Jerky Making help (General)

Discussion in 'Drying/Dehydrating' started by cuzsis, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. cuzsis

    cuzsis Newbie

    Hi all, I've got a post up about me in the "Rollcall" section if you want to read why I'm here on the forums. :)

     For now, I'll jump right into my questions!

     I've never made jerky. Ever. But I want to learn. 

     I know some of the generalities, but I had a few questions before I tried anything. BTW, I plan to do both the "hamburger" style jerky, the kind the comes out of the caulking gun, and the traditional thin sliced, so if any of my questions denotes a significantly different answer between those two types, I'd be much obliged if you'd point that out! ;)

     What cure/preservative agent should I use? I've heard good stuff about Tenderquick, but that's not locally available. I'm not against ordering it online, but did want to check to see what else might be out there? 

    Tenderquick: If I use TQ, I know I can mix it into "hamburger" jerky, but what would I do for thin sliced jerky? Marinate? Rub?

     Nitrates/Nitrites/Nitesomething?  I managed to get through my chemistry classes on a wing and a prayer. So the 2Ns are something I'm only passingly familiar with. I know they're used for preventing the micro-organism that causes botulism. However, there was also a big to-do not very long ago about it increasing cancer "risk".

    Both of these suck if you get them and can kill you, so if there's away to avoid both that would be awesome. That being said, if there isn't. I'll take the 2Ns, avoid botulism, and hope to be one of the millions who *don't* get cancer. 

    Drying/Heating: I plan to use a food dehydrator for making my jerky. Some people have said that I need it to heat the meat as well (like 160 or something.) My dehydrator does not have a thermometer on it, the meat is probably going to be too thin to stick with a thermometer. Do I need to find one to stick in there? If so, how steady do I need to keep the heat? At what point would the batch be a "loss"? 

     Storage life: We plan to vacuum seal our jerky and then deep freeze it for long term storage. We'll have a pack in the fridge for short term munchies. I've heard it's not generally a problem, and I doubt it will be on our end as well, but how long does jerky last in the fridge?

     Also, if we go camping/hiking or something, how long ought it to last in it's traditional "someone's backpack" environment? 

    Thanks so much! Can't wait to start making jerky! :D
  2. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey cuzsis,

    I recommend you move this over to the "making jerky" forum.

    You might get some more experienced eyeballs on it there. I'd love to help you but I've only used the pre-packaged kits so far. You got some good questions though. I'd be interested to hear the outcomes.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  3. jsdspif

    jsdspif Meat Mopper

    I would just get some hi mountain seasonings jerky cure & seasoning kit . That's all I've been using for years and everyone always tells me the same thing after they eat the stuff I make with it , either the ground beef snack sticks or whole muscle beef jerky , " you should sell this stuff ! " . You do have to read the directions and you use different amounts depending on if you're using ground meat or whole meat but it's just the easiest way to do it , just follow the directions.
  4. cuzsis

    cuzsis Newbie

    Thank you for the info guys! :D

     I can't believe I missed the entire "jerky making section" when I first signed up. Whoops! 

     Per the first posters reply I have moved this thread over there. Not sure if the mods will delete this one or not, but just wanted to give you the heads up.

     Don't worry! I've gone through these replies already and taken notes! I'll be looking up hi mountain, and make sure I avoid Cure#2. Thank you very much! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  5. I would recommend using one of the jerky seasoning & cure mixes - there are a ton of them out there - you can find them at almost any camping/sporting goods store, as well as on-line.  Most people don't use Sodium nitrite in home jerky prep.  There is some in Tender Quick.  If you can't find a store with some good mixes locally - here is a simple recipe;

    3/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

    1 tablespoon brown sugar

    1 garlic clove crushed

    2 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    Mix well.  This works with 1 lb of meat.  If hamburger - mix it right in.  If thin slices spread the mix on both sides.  Put into a plastic, glass or other non-reactive container and cover tightly.  Marinate 6-12 hours in the refrigerator.

    Normally, you would start at 100-120 for several hours, then increase the temp to 140-160 to finish.  If you have a "one-temp dehydrator" then just turn it on and go.  After several hours, you will see beads of  liquid forming on top - that is fat.  Take a paper towel and blot off the fat.  Flats are done when a piece will crack when you bend it.  It is over done if it breaks.

    You should get 3+ months in a refrigerator if you keep it in an enclosed, container (or zip lock bag) to keep moisture from it.

    If you got it dry - and keep it dry (sealed zip lock bag) home made jerky without any Sodium Nitride can last a month at room temperatures  - so don't worry about it for backpacking trips. just don't leave it out in hot sun - keep it in the pack
  6. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    I use Cabela's kits they are fair priced and do an excellent job, Get a small container depending on the amount of meat you are using or kits at a time, I use some water or beef broth and mix the cure and seasoning package up in the container, put lid on and shake well, pour this over the meat in a large bowl (I usually use a large SS bowl) and mix very well, then put cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge and take out and mix around well at least once a day for about 3-4 day and then dry in the manner you like, I like to use my dehydrator. I have a Cabelas 80L and it usually takes 6 to 8 hours in there at max temp 150 I think it is. 

    Good luck with the jerky, once you get started you won't want to start, the only bad thing is it is hard to find good deals on meat to slice up anymore, Can't find much of anything for under 4 buck a pound,

    Try chicken or turkey breasts and boneless pork loin also.

    I have made this way and just left it sit on the counter in a sealed container, not bag, for months with no issues. Fat in and on the meat will make it not last as long, I don't mind if there is a bit of fat here and there the cure will help it not turn rancid but fat will also hold moisture so it may start to mold there first.
  7. cuzsis

    cuzsis Newbie

    Thanks again!

     Our local Ace Hardware had some Hi Mountain mix, so I go their basic brand and will try that first. If that doesn't work I will probably try the recipe that Tuscon posted. 

     Our dehydrater is a cheap job from Harbor Freight, so I'm currently vacillating back and forth as to whether or not to use it. It would be cheaper than the oven (and less heat in the house, it's still fairly warm here with no AC in the main house.) But with meat being so expensive if I blow a batch or two that adds up in a hurry. Don't really have the funds to go get a more expensive brand right now. 


     Thanks shtrdave for mentioning the other meats! It seems obvious now, but I hadn't really though of that earlier! Definitely cheaper than buying beef all the time. 
  8. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    Does your dehydrator have a fan in it? I had one from Hf it was a Ronco, had extra trays and used it for many years until I got something better.
    The Boneless Pork Loin makes very good jerky, If you can find a deal on the boneless pork loin roasts they are already well trimmed and you are not paying for the fat and the ends that you are going to trim away anyhow, sometimes it is cheaper to pay a bit more.

    Just make sure you use the cure packet and try to get it evenly distributed, that is part of the reason i put mine in containers instead of ziploc bags, I can mix it better and I allow extra time in the fridge, plus that give a better flavor.
  9. cuzsis

    cuzsis Newbie

    A container sounds like a good idea. 

     There's no fan, but there's room at the top for one (clearly this model is also made for a higher end product that adds a fan). Thinking of wiring up a USB computer fan to fit up there. Just not sure if it should point down or up...thinking down since hot air rises and the heating element is on the bottom. 
  10. The dehydrators I have seen with fans usually have them at the heat source, to circulate that heat around and prevent a localized hot spot.

    I'd worry about one blowing down that it is pulling in cooler air and defeating hour heater with the upper layers of food not getting sufficient heat
  11. cuzsis

    cuzsis Newbie

    Hm... I suppose we should try it without the fan first and just see how it goes then... 
  12. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    if going to put a fan in install it to push the warm are up or at the top to pull the warm air up through the meat. make sure you don't have to much air flow as it would cool the element off and you not get a good temp to help dry, maybe you could use a dimmer switch to adjust the fan speed.

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