Making Jerky is a lot simpler than one may think. As good as store-bought jerky may be, homemade jerky is phenomenal! Here are a few tricks and tips to help you get started.
Pick Out the Leanest Cut You Can Find
When smoking other food, we usually seek out fatty and well marbled meats. When making jerky, we want to keep the fat content as low as possible, as we will be dehydrating the meat.
Too much fat will not only keep the meat from drying out properly, but it will also turn rancid in a short period of time. Of course you can make jerky with beef, as we all know well and good. Nevertheless, you can make excellent jerky with over lean meats such as venison and elk. Eye of round, bottom round, or flank steak are all good lean cuts and excellent choices for making jerky.
Preparing the Meat
Remove meat from the fridge and begin preparation immediately. As very cold meat is easiest to slice thinly, consider popping it in the freezer for a bit before cutting.
Cut meat along the grain into ¼ inch thick strips, and remove any fat as you slice. Marinate it overnight. The following day, remove meat from the marinade, but do not rinse.
Get creative with your marinade. Use Asian inspired ingredients like ginger and mirin, or go the Southwest route and try adding Cajun spice and lime. The main method of preservation with jerky is the drying, not necessarily the brining or curing stages, as with other projects. So you can go a little wild with flavour here.
Drying the Meat
Hang the jerky on meat hooks in your smoker and dry the jerky at 140°F without any smoke to dry the surface.
Add some bisquettes to the smoker. Try Apple, Cherry, Hickory, or Mesquite and turn the heat up to 165°F, smoking for 2-3 hours. Raise the temperature another 10 degrees and smoke until finished. You’ll know the jerky is ready when you bend it and it starts to fray. Smoking it longer, to the stage where it snaps when bent, will give the jerky a longer shelf life, but it will be less tasty.
How to Store it Safely
Since this meat isn’t entirely dehydrated (couldn’t chew it at that point) and since cures and cultures aren’t being used, remember to store the jerky in the fridge. It will last for a long time, and keeping it in a cool and regulated environment will ensure it lasts even longer!
Check out some of our easy to make jerky recipes here.