Monday, 13 December 2010

Homemade Jerky

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

I have a few hard to buy for omnivores on my Christmas list and the other day the idea of homemade jerky popped into my head. Making jerky was a hit-or-miss affair at my house, and I never really liked the end result or the ingredients in the recipes. And then one day I happened upon a fine blog and an even finer jerky recipe (among all his other fine recipes.) It was like a fairy tale, the meat princess finds her true love...a jerky recipe with all natural ingredients and actually ingredients I have on hand all the time.

Getting this recipe has allowed me to look at all those meat cuts I ordered with good intentions, but never got around to just yet. You know the ones, when your next order of beef comes in and you still have the odd things here and there. This recipe has also been a god-send to our beef customers too. Who wants to take carefully raised grassfed beef and dump Liquid Smoke on it? Not me and certainly not my customers.

I have tweaked this a little since the first batch, and Kevin has too, so I will post the recipe as it was when I started making it and will put my changes in bold. It's a great recipe that lends itself to monkeying with and the batches may turn out different but all are good, and be forewarned once you start making it, you better hide it or resign yourself to the fact that you will be making jerky often enough to become proficient.

In Kevin's words: "I’ve made a fair whack of jerky, both in the oven and over wood fire, sweet-glazed versions, plain versions, smoked and unsmoked. I’ve recently come across a recipe that’s worth sharing. Not only is it dang tasty, it avoids the onion/garlic powder route which even ‘Charcuterie’ suggests [a rare shortcoming of the book]:

per pound of meat [in this case, very tough 09 moose]:

1 tbsp kosher salt (Redmond Realsalt or Celtic Sea Salt)

1 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari wheat-free soy sauce)

2 tsp dark brown sugar (Rapidura)

2 cloves garlic, minced (I microplaned my garlic for more flavor)

1 tsp dried chili [optional] (Chili powder)

1 tsp cracked black pepper [optional] (not optional)

Slice meat thin and most importantly – evenly – while still partially frozen. Mix with marinade ingredients above, and refrigerate for a day or three. Dry via your method of choice. Note that jerky pieces never finish all at the same time, so you have to pull them off as they get to a texture you like."

I have had good luck drying my jerky in our wood cookstove oven, with the oven door open and a medium fire, it's a day long process to dry it and it does need going through to check for finished pieces. Smoking and any method you have at hand would work just as well.

I have found that Kevin's instructions for a day or three of marinating is best if you can hold out for the three days, the flavor is so much better, and forgiving on the thicker pieces.

If you use meat that has been languishing awhile in your freezer, trim off all fat and silver skin, or you will have old tasting jerky.

I plan about 5 days out for finished jerky. 1 day to thaw and quickly do a partial refreeze on cookie sheets for uniform slicing, then 3 days to marinate, and 1 day to dry. I tried slicing my meat when it was partially thawed to save time and I ended up with some too soft, and some too frozen, or in the case of a roast, I could not cut it while in its original shape. And the end result looked like Lizzie Borden had been hacking away at it. I decided to do the extra day.

Besides a being a homemade gift item, we have put a small jar in the vehicle emergency kit too. It's a good high protein snack to have on hand, and keeps indefinitely.

For me this has been a good way to use up so-so meat cuts that I have neglected, and the recipe is simple enough to change ingredients to suit what I may or may not have on hand - I can't wait to try Kevin's onion suggestion next!

Do you have any jerky making tips to share?


organicpatchwork said...

This sounds delicious, but have you (or anyone) tried making it in a dehydrator? I don't have a wood stove and don't feel comfortable using my electric oven all day.

Gin said...

The instructions in all jerky recipes say to slice the meat thin, but "thin" is so relative. Please, can someone explain how thin thin should be?

tina f. said...

You'll notice it says "dry via your choice". We've made it in our dehydrator. You do the same thing, marinate and then put on the racks and plug it in. We test it every so often because, yes, they do end up finishing at slightly differet rates. And funny thing, there always seems to be less pieces coming out as went in! As to thinness that is dependent on what you prefer. We try to do ours at about 1/4 ". And if you are buying meat in the grocery store and this is what you are specifically buying it for, the butcher can slice it for you at that time, otherwise, as stated it's easier if the meat is slightly frozen when you go to slice it.

tina f. said...


LindaG said...

I've been making my own jerky for over 30 years now. I don't have grass fed beef, so I do use Liquid Smoke.
I do not add salt, but I do use soy sauce.
I find that if I marinade the meat more than 24 hours, it dries way too salty. Have you noticed this?
I would like to find your Tamari soy sauce, but I'd have to try it without my hubby knowing because he's extremely fussy about what I use for making our jerky.

It's always nice to see how others do it though. Thanks for the link to the blog, too!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Here's video showing how Liquid Smoke is made. Similar to the process of making imitation vanilla.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Organic Patchwork, I think it would work fine in a dehydrator, since jerky is just dried meat.

Gin, I am slicing mine with a knife so I try to slice the jerky as thin as possible, but my knife skills need to be honed, because it usually is about 1/8" thick with some thinner and some thicker :) Uniformity is the key, thick or thin, if it's thick it just takes longer to dry.

Tina F, I notice that too, that some mysteriously disappears during the curing process ;)

Linda G, Tamari is usually in the health food section and my hubby is fussy too. Some experiments are conducted without his knowledge;) The tamari seems to taste the same to me as regular soy sauce.

This jerky doesn't seem too salty, whether I use kosher salt or the other less refined salts. The less refined salts though still contain other minerals so they aren't as salty to taste, you might try that. Or use a smaller amount of soy sauce, or change the ratio of salt to meat.

Sadge said...

I smoke-dry my jalapenos, making them chipotles. I bet they'd be good ground up for the chile powder ingredient.

Tiffany Jewelry said...

i like eating beef. i will learn to make. thanks for your experience.

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Oya's Daughter said...

Oh thank you thank you thank you. Jerky is "too American" and therefore I rarely see it here, but this has got to be one of the things I love and miss the most as it was one of my favourite snacks as a kid, but I made mine with bison or venison. Now there's bison here of all things, and I know the supplier so I'm so very going to do this in January. Cheers!

Janet said...

thank you for this! I have no suggestions as I have never made jerky but I do love eating it. :-)

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kathi dunphy said...

This is probably a dumb question, do you slice the meat with the grain or across the grain? And can I make this without salt for my hubby with high blood pressure?

Rae said...

I LOVE this idea! We give away smoked salmon and squaw candy when we make it, but I haven't tried jerky. I'm definitely saving this recipe to try when we're a bit more settled into our new place. Jerky is something I regularly crave, but it's so expensive! Will be great to try it at home.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Sadge, that is a great idea! Or smoky paprika too.

Oya's Daughter, thanks! I think you'll like the jerky no matter what kind of meat you use. Bison sounds great!

Janet, soon you'll love making it too :)

Kathy, I usually slice it with the grain, but I also end up with odds and ends and some gets sliced against the grain and I can't tell the difference in the end.

As for the salt, the soy is salty and one thing about high blood pressure, my understanding is that straight sodium chloride is a no-no but natural salts like Redmond, or Celtic that still have other minerals present can help regulate blood pressure. There are several camps out there on blood pressure issues, so you have to go with what you feel comfortable with. As for leaving out the salt I wouldn't do it, because it is a preservative in this case and is important.

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