If you are a newly-minted jerky enthusiast, then one of the things you will quickly learn is there are a lot of great benefits to enjoying your meat this way. For one thing, enjoying your meat in this manner is one of the healthiest ways to do it simply because jerky meat does not possess all of the oils you find in normal meat. Moreover, lean meat is usually the only thing used to make jerky and the process normally keeps all of the nutrition that was originally present in the meat.
There is also an added benefit to making your own jerky simply because you yourself can control what is in the meat. However, if you are a beginner, there is a potential for mishaps when first making your jerky. Moreover, if your dehydrator is getting fairly used, don’t be afraid to replace it. There are some steps you need to take in order to avoid mistakes. Keep the following considerations in mind:
Have the right dehydrator in mind.
In order to make the best beef jerky and potentially avoid mistakes, you need to be fairly picky when it comes to the dehydrator used to make the jerky. The ideal beef jerky dehydrator will have be comprised of the following characteristics:
- An easy-to-read interface usually consisting of digital controls.
- A way of monitoring the jerky-making process such as a clear lid.
- A thermostat with the ability to prevent the growth of bacteria and pathogens.
Know what your goals are when you are making your jerky.
After you have an image in mind of the perfect jerky dehydrator, please be aware that for this jerky dehydrator or any other one, you need to keep your goals in mind. Even the best dehydrator won’t work that well if you lack an organized plan for the type of jerky you are making. For example, jerky that consists of lean meats are the best option for long-term storage. However, if you are planning on taking your homemade jerky out on a hike or any other type of short-term jaunt, you can get away with utilizing a fatty meat that does not “keep” quite as long.
Try to avoid making your jerky too salty.
This is actually an easy mistake to make. However, with a simple bit of math understanding, this is a problem that can be avoided. First of all, we have to understand the salinity of the salt, which is comprised of 39% sodium. Keeping that in mind, the target you are looking for in your jerky would be about 5% salinity. However, if you put that much in your jerky it will be WAY too salty, simply because the jerky will lose about ? of their weight during the drying process. Thus, you want about 1.67% salinity in the jerky. Finally, you should multiply that figure by the amount of kilograms in your mean to get the amount of salt. For example, for four pounds of meat (1800 kg), you would times it by 1.67% to get the required 30 grams of salt.
Make sure the jerky is properly heated.
Failing to ensure the jerky is properly heated is another biggie. The safest heating processes for jerky would include a temperature of 160 degrees for beef jerky and 165 degrees for chicken or turkey. Moreover, it also is important that you heat the jerky to the required temperature well before starting the drying process. It is important to do this so you kill off all of the harmful bacteria from the meat.
Thaw and marinate your meat in the appropriate manner.
First of all, frozen meat should be thawed in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature. Leaving it out in the open for several hours will just encourage bacteria growth. Leaving meat to thaw on a kitchen might save time, but it is an unsafe practice. Please allow extra time for refrigerator thawing.
Your jerky meat should also be marinated at the appropriate temperature as well. A general rule of thumb is to marinate the meat at a temperature between 36 F-40 F (2 C – 4 C). Never marinate your meat at room temperature, and continue to allow your meat to thaw in the refrigerator until your marinade is ready. Better safe than sorry. Also, just to be on the safe side, a marinade should only be used on just one batch of meat.
Utilize curing salt as an extra precaution against bacteria infecting your jerky.
Curing salt has been established as another line of defense to help prevent the spread of bacteria on your jerky meat. It also has been found useful for avoiding Salmonella on turkey and chicken jerky. Moreover, curing salt can especially help you if you are a bit off on heating the jerky.
Enjoy your jerky, but take precautions
When it comes to making your own jerky, it is definitely a fun hobby. However, the common refrain must also be, “better safe than sorry.” Follow these precautions and you are sure to enjoy your homemade jerky for years to come.