What is the correct amount of water?
Jerky Smoked Vs. Dehydrated Jerky
Jerky in Oven Dehydrated Jerky Finished Jerky SMOKED OR DEHYDRATED JERKY - WHICH IS BEST?
There are many differing opinions on the best way to cook and dry jerky, but if you have a smokehouse that is able to control the relative humidity, then starting and finishing in the smoker is going to give you the most consistent and the most tender piece of jerky. The problem is that most people just don’t have that available to them, and some prefer just to use an oven or a dehydrator. So, we are going to show a way to use a smoker, an oven, and a dehydrator to make tender jerky.Slicing & Mixing
The first thing is we have to slice the meat into usable pieces. We have trimmed and partially frozen our meat to make slicing it easier. We are cutting 1/4" pieces against the grain because this will make the bite and chew of the jerky better than cutting along the grain.
Next, we are going to mix our seasoning with our cure and lay it out on a plate. Then, we are going to drag the pieces through this mixture, making sure we coat both sides. After we have done everything, we are going to place it in a bag and add JUST enough water to cover all of the meat. Then we are going to let it sit overnight to allow the seasoning and cure to penetrate and work in the cure fully. Vacuum packing will help the meat pick up a little more of the seasoning, and if you can vacuum pack it and then massage the meat every few hours, it will work even better. This is going to relax the muscle fibers and allow the solution to penetrate further and faster.
If you have a vacuum tumbler, you can simply dissolve all of your seasoning, cure, and any other additives in the water you will use, add it to the tumbler and tumble until the meat has picked up all of the solution.Sugar
I am also adding 18% of the weight of the product in brown sugar and 20% of the weight in water. I am adding this sugar as it will bind with the water in the meat and make it unavailable for microbial growth, so I can have a perfectly safe jerky that is still nice and tender. To verify this, you need a water activity meter, though, and as most people don’t have one of these, you need to treat this jerky like it is not shelf-stable and refrigerate it. If you want to do this, you need to make sure your brown sugar is 100% dissolved in the water; if not, you are going to end up with some seriously sticky jerky. Also, a tumbler is almost essential here, I have tested vacuum packing it with the added sugar and water in the past, and while it works, it just won’t accept as much of the solution as it will with a tumbler.Processing
I cooked a batch in our commercial smoker with careful attention to the relative humidity. My first stage is at 110° for 20 minutes with no humidity and my dampers wide open and my fan on, and no smoke. Next, I went for 30 minutes at 135° again with no smoke or humidity, then 140° for 10 minutes with no smoke and no humidity. Now I cooked it at 150° for 30 minutes, and I closed the dampers and set the relative humidity to 50%. Then I upped the temp to 155° for 30 more minutes with 50% relative humidity. For the final stage, I cooked it at 175° with a 60% RH until the internal temp was 160°.$500 Budget for Equipment
In my opinion, I would spend the majority of my budget on a slicer, the Walton’s 10" Slicer has a hefty price tag of $479, but it will cut evenly and can also be used for so much more than just jerky, the Walton’s 8" is a little more affordable at $379. The Waltons 10" and Walton’s 8" are extremely well built and could be used in a semi-commercial environment. You would be slightly over budget, but another good addition would be a Walton’s Meat Tenderizer.Other Equipment Or Supplies A Smokehouse will give you a lot more versatility and can obviously be used for so much more than jerky. Shop waltonsinc.com for Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky What is Kippered Beef? (And How to Make it)
kippered beef vs meat fact trimming meat smoke schedule What’s the Difference Between Kippered Beef & Jerky?
There are differing opinions, but the most common answer is the amount of water activity present. While both products are good to eat, jerky is going to be dryer. You’ll notice similar smoking schedules as well. And of course the appearance. True kippered beef is julienned into strips before thermal processing. So we just threw them on our smoke screens and gave them a few slices.Slicing & Mixing
The first thing is we have to slice the meat into usable pieces. We have trimmed and partially frozen our meat to make slicing it easier. We like to get our meat into manageable fist-size pieces that can easily have the fat trimmed off.
We can now use our Walton’s slicer to get these pieces to the exact thickness we want. As you can see, some of the strips vary in size; this is fine as long as the thickness isn’t too different. We went for closer to 1/2 inch this time. So slice up some pieces and set them aside until the slicing is finished.
Next is to mix the seasoning with the correct amount of water. We threw all our sliced meat and seasoning with the correct amount of water in our vacuum tumbler. This will help loosen the fibers of the meat and allow the seasoning to penetrate it, making for a bolder flavor. Once under a vacuum, we let it tumble for about an hour.Smoke Schedule
1. Drying Phase: 90 Minutes at 110 degrees
2. Smoking: for 30 Minutes at 140 degrees
3. Drying Phase: for 15 Minutes at 145 degrees
4. Cook: for 15 Minutes at 150 degrees
5. Cook: 15 More Minutes at 155 degrees
6. Up Temp to 170 degrees until internal is 165 degrees
We know some of these temperatures and times are hard to replicate. Here’s a video on how we fared making jerky in our oven. So please use this video for inspiration and/or advice!Dragon’s Breath
Meat Processing Equipment: 208 Low Temp Oven
The awesome new seasoning we tried is Dragon’s Breath. We heard the name and knew we had to try it! While mixing, the seasoning stuck in our nostrils and helped clean out our sinuses for sure. However, the seasoning wasn’t too overwhelming when it came to taste. So trust us, some heat but NOT burn your mouth hot!Shop waltonsinc.com for Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for Dragon’s Breath Seasoning
Jerky What Is Beef Jerky?
### WHAT IS BEEF JERKY? Beef Jerky is a meat product that has been processed, seasoned, cured, and then cooked or dried. Drying and curing meat is one of the oldest ways to preserve meat and has been around for 1,000s of years. It is typically made from low-fat content pieces of meat or has had the fat trimmed off. Jerky should still be cooked up to 160°F internal temperature to kill off harmful bacteria. Types of Jerky
Whole Muscle Jerky - Whole muscle jerky is jerky that has been sliced into strips between 1/8" and 1/4" inch and then coated on all sides with a mixture of the seasoning and the cure. Once that is done, it is placed in a plastic bag with just enough water to cover all the strips and held in a refrigerator for 12 hours, then cooked and/or dehydrated. The advantages of this type of jerky are that it is easy to do and you need minimal equipment.
Restructured Jerky - This is a form of jerky that has been ground up, seasoned, cured, and then extruded into strips or sticks. The jerky is then cooked and/or dehydrated to form the classic jerky structure. The advantage of this type of jerky is that you can control what form the jerky takes and that you can use more of the animal as you don’t need to start with a whole muscle cut of meat.Water activity
A key part of making jerky is lowering the water activity. A simple explanation of water activity is that it represents the amount of water in a product that is free to be used for microbial growth. A product can have some moisture to it, but most of that water is bound up with the meat or sugar, and mold or other microbes cannot access it to begin spoiling the meat.Cure
You might hear some people say that Jerky does not need to be cured as it is going to be dried out. However, the meat will not start at that level of dryness, and since we are cooking this at low temperatures, we are creating an environment that is ideal for the growth of botulism, so a cure should be used for safety reasons. Think of it as a seat belt, your car will start without it, but it’s not a great idea to ride around town without it on!Smoking/Dehydrating
We do not recommend that you use only a dehydrator unless that dehydrator can run at 160° or above. The reason for this is if you dehydrate the meat before killing off the bacteria, you have made that bacteria much harder to kill. In essence, you need some moisture to kill the bad bacteria.Storage
If you have a way to measure water activity and it is below .85, then you do not really need to vacuum package it, and it can be left out. Now, there are other factors here, but it is a good general rule. However, since most people do not have a way to monitor this, you should still either put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge or vacuum package it.Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers
Jerky Jerky Making Equipment
Slicer Slicer WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF JERKY-MAKING EQUIPMENT?
Whether you are making whole muscle or restructured jerky, you need a way to thermal process it. When we make Jerky here, we are lucky enough to use our Pro Smoker 500T HVE Smokehouse, but this is simply not going to be an option for most people. With some experimentation, you can get similar results with a Pro-Smoker PK-100 and by controlling the dampers.DO YOU NEED A MEAT SLICER TO MAKE JERKY?
When making Whole Muscle Jerky, one of the most important things you can do is to cut it all to a uniform thickness, as this will help cook and dry at an even rate. While you could try and cut it by hand, it is much easier and more accurate to use a slicer. The slicer we use is Walton’s 10" Slicer.DO YOU NEED A SAUSAGE STUFFER TO MAKE JERKY?
If you are going to make restructured jerky, then you need some way to extrude it into strips or sticks. I would recommend a Sausage Stuffer and an All-Around Jerky Maker, as this will give you the ability to make many types of sausage as well! You can get similar results with Walton’s 11 lb Sausage Stuffer or a Jerky Gun, though.$500 BUDGET FOR JERKY EQUIPMENT
In my opinion, I would spend the majority of my budget on a slicer; the Walton’s 10" Slicer has a hefty price tag of $479, but it will cut evenly and can also be used for so much more than just jerky.Other Equipment Or Supplies A Smokehouse will give you a lot more versatility and can obviously be used for so much more than just jerky. Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky Homemade Beef Jerky (With No Sugar)
Sliced Meat Marinating Difference in Jerky HOMEMADE JERKY WITH NO SUGAR?
A few months ago, we had a suggestion on Meatgistics that we try using something called vegetable glycerin instead of sugar. Let’s face it, 18% added sugar takes a relatively healthy snack like Jerky and changes it into something closer to junk food. Glycerin is a sweetener that does not interact with your body in the same way that sugar does. It doesn’t seem to spike your blood sugar levels, which would indicate that it is a better choice for everyone, especially diabetics.
So we are making two batches of jerky from some venison we had here. One is going to be done with 18% brown sugar, and one is going to be done with 18% vegetable glycerin. If you are looking for some glycerin, it is relatively inexpensive to purchase large bottles of it on amazon. First, we sliced the meat into slightly thicker than 1/4" pieces and cut across the grain. Then we mixed all of our ingredients until everything was fully suspended. You don’t want a bunch of sugar sitting at the bottom of your mixture, so this might take some time.Marinating
We then ran both of these through a vacuum tumbler to pick up as much of the solution as possible. You can use a home-style tumbler like the Express tumbler, or if you don’t have that, you can also vacuum pack it, let it sit for about 24 hours, and massage the meat occasionally. This will help loosen the fibers of the meat, and it will pick up more of the solution.Smoke Schedule
Next, lay everything out on a rack in your smoker. If you have the ability to control the humidity in your smoker, then I will list the relative humidity levels in the post on meatgistics.com that we will link in the description below. If you don’t have a way to control the humidity, then I would suggest you get a larger-than-normal water pan and a few automotive sponges. No, we aren’t gonna make you clean my truck before I tell you what to do next; you are going to get those sponges wet and then sit them in the water pan with half of it sticking out into the air. This is going to increase the surface area for evaporation and allow for greatly increased relative humidity in your smoker. You won’t be able to control its levels, but it will increase it, which is better than nothing. Don’t add this water pan until after the initial 20 minutes, which is going to be our drying phase.
Stage 1 - 20 Minutes at 110° (dampers wide open)The Results
Stage 2 - 30 Minutes at 135° (begin adding smoke)
Stage 3 - 10 Minutes at 140° (dampers wide open again for drying)
Stage 4 - 30 Minutes at 150°
Stage 5 - 175° until internal temperature is 160°
The one that we did with the sugar has a glisten to it and is slightly tacky and sticky. The one that we used glycerin for does not have this problem; the surface appears dry and mostly normal. Now for the tenderness, both of these are pretty tender; they have some good flexibility and a nice bite. For the taste, I notice a slight aftertaste with the one that I used glycerin on that isn’t present in the one with sugar, but it is certainly not something that would prevent me from using glycerin instead of jerky if I was trying to make a healthier product.
So, all in all, if you want to make a tender jerky that isn’t going to be processed like junk food by your body, then, by all means, try substituting the 18% brown sugar with 18% glycerin!$500 Budget for Equipment
In my opinion, I would spend the majority of my budget on a slicer. The Walton’s 10" Slicer has a hefty price tag of $479.99, but it will cut evenly and can also be used for so much more than just jerky.Other Equipment Or Supplies A Smokehouse will give you a lot more versatility and can obviously be used for so much more than jerky. Shop waltonsinc.com for Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky Best Cut of Meat for Jerky
Hanger Steak BEST CUTS OF MEAT FOR WHOLE MUSCLE JERKY
Eye of the Round - Eye of the round is a smaller muscle in the hindquarter that is usually very tough. It can have a larger grain to it, but it works well to cut into strips for making jerky, as long as you cut across the grain. If it has a fat cap on it, it must be trimmed before using to make jerky. Since this is a round cut after slicing into thin pieces, it is a good idea to cut it again after slicing it to form a more classic jerky shape.
Flank Steak - Flank Steak comes from the abdominal region of the cow; it is low in fat and about 3 oz (has about 6 grams of fat). The muscle is a heavily used one during the cow’s life, so it is a tougher cut, and it will usually be a little less expensive at your butcher. It will rarely have a fat cap on it, so you should not have much that needs to be trimmed off. After slicing this, you can cut it width-wise again to form a more classic jerky shape.
Silver Tip - Silver Tip is taken from the shoulder and has a very fine grain. Because it is a heavily used muscle, it can be fairly tough, which is a good thing for making jerky as it makes it very lean and less expensive. All around, this is an excellent cut for making whole muscle jerky.
Hangar Steaks - Hangar Steaks were very inexpensive until somewhat recently, Americans became aware of this tasty cut and started looking for it in more than just restaurants. The problem with that is unlike other cuts like filets and rounds, there is only 1 hangar steak per animal, and it is fairly small. So it can be difficult to keep enough in inventory, especially since it is a very tender steak. For this reason, the price has increased year over year, and what was once a great choice for jerky is starting to price itself out of the game, which is a shame as this is an excellent cut for jerky.Restructured Jerky
If you want to make a reformed Jerky, you will need to have some form of ground beef. The problem is that ground beef from the store is going to be an 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio usually, and that is higher than we would like. Your best bet is to grind a leaner cut yourself at home through a 1/8" plate. If you don’t have a way to do this, look for 93/7 ground beef and make sure it is freshly ground.What Are Desirable Qualities?
With Whole Muscle Jerky, you are looking for a cut with low levels of intramuscular fat. This means cuts that do not have a lot of fat inside the muscle of the meat. When you look for a good steak, you want to see some nice marbling in the meat; for Jerky, you want the exact opposite. If the cut has a large fat cap on it, like an Eye of the Round, then that is easily cut off.
If you are making Restructured Jerky, this is a little less of a concern; just again, make sure you are removing any fat cap from the meat before grinding it.Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers
Jerky Whole Muscle Jerky (Recipe)
Slicer Laying Out Jerky Finished Jerky Meat Block
25 lb of Eye of the RoundEquipment
1 Bag of Sweet Chipotle Jerky Seasoning
1 Bag of Sure Cure (Included with purchase)
20 oz of water (Just enough to cover the meat)
The first thing we are going to do to prepare our Whole Muscle Jerky is to remove all the fat that we can with a knife. Get as little meat as possible when doing this, but don’t stress if some meat comes off with the fat. Since we want to have as little fast as possible in this meat, deer and other wild game are great choices for making jerky.
Then we are going to want to cut our jerky into strips between 1/4" and 3/8" thick. We are going to do this with the Walton’s 12" Slicer, but it can also be done with a Precise Slice Adjustable Knife or a regular slicing knife if you have a very steady hand. Uniformity is important here as we want all of the slices to be the same thickness so they can cook at the same rate.Meat Mixing
Then mix the cure with the jerky seasoning until it is evenly distributed. Now either coat both sides of each slice of meat by sprinkling it on or drag slices through until they are coated.Holding Overnight
Place all jerky in a food-safe poly bag and add enough water so that all the jerky is completely covered, and hold for 12 hours to allow the cure to work. If you do not want to hold this overnight, then you need to use a Cure Accelerator to speed up the curing process. If you use one of these, you can go directly to the smoking or cooking process.Note
The next step is to smoke or cook the jerky. Remember, simply using a dehydrator (unless it will get to over 160°) is not recommended. Lay all strips down on smoke screens or jerky screens, set the temperature to 130°, and let it cook for an hour with the dampers open to allow for some drying. If you are using an oven, you can use something to prop your oven open slightly.
If your jerky is too thin to inject a probe thermometer, you can fold over a piece of jerky and place a probe thermometer in between the fold to get a fairly accurate reading.Thermal Processing & Smoking
1 Hour at 130° with dampers wide openCooling
2 Hours at 145° with dampers closed 2/3rds of the way
Cook at 175° until internal temperature reaches 160°
Finally, we will hold the jerky at room temperature for 1-2 hours before moving them to the refrigerator or the freezer before vac packing.Wrap up
Whole Muscle Jerky is a very simple thing to make; it might take some practice to perfect, but the major points to focus on are to cut the muscle into even strips, use just enough water to make sure all of the meat is covered when holding it overnight, and have your dampers wide open for the first hour of thermal processing to assist in drying the product.Additional Tips To increase the shelf life of your product, make sure everything that will come into contact with your meat has been sanitized. We spray everything down with Hard Surface Sanitizer. Other Notes
You can use snack stick or summer sausage seasoning to make whole muscle jerky if you want to try different flavors.Watch WaltonsTV: Whole Muscle Jerky Basics Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasoning Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Slicers Shop waltonsinc.com for Dehydrators Shop waltonsinc.com for Smoke Houses
Jerky Brisket Jerky
Trim Fat Adding Seasoning Place on Racks Trim That Fat!
Now, we have told you in previous classes that you should use a low-fat cut of meat like the eye of the round to make your jerky, and when you think of Brisket, you probably aren’t thinking about a lean cut. Well, a brisket really has 2 parts, the point and the flat, and these are separated by a thick vein of fat. If you are going to use brisket to make jerky, we recommend you use the flat as it has very little intramuscular fat. Now, you do have to spend some time trimming the flat to remove as much of the fat around the outside as possible, but the shape of the flat lends itself to being trimmed fairly well.Slice it Up
So, we’ve trimmed all the fat off of these, and as you can see, one advantage of using a brisket flat is that it has a very pronounced grain, and we are going to cut against that grain. This will allow the pieces to break down easier in your mouth and make them feel more tender. We are slicing this in 1/4" thick pieces, you can try to cut this by hand or with something like the precise slice knife from Victorinox, but if you have a slicer, I would recommend you go with that.Picking a Seasoning
Now, the brisket really has a strong beef flavor, obviously, so we want to choose something that will go with that without covering it up. We are going to be using the Colorado Spicy Jerky Seasoning that comes with a 1 oz bag of sure cure. The bag and the sure cure are enough for 25 lb of jerky, but we are just going to be doing about 10 lb, so we need .36 of a lb of the seasoning and 0.4 oz of the cure. We are going to mix these together and then drag our slices through the meat, making sure to coat both sides evenly.
Once everything has been fully coated, we are going to put them in a plastic bag and add just enough water so that everything is submerged. This will further make sure that all areas of the meat are seasoned and cured. With some seasonings that have very large particle sizes, I might not add water as I don’t want those large flakes of seasoning to be washed off, but with something like colorado spicy, which is all very small pieces of seasoning, we’ll go ahead and add the water.
Now, we will set it in the fridge and let it sit overnight in the marinade to allow the cure time to work. If we wanted, we could vacuum tumble this for 30-45 minutes and go ahead and smoke it today, so if you have a tumbler at home, like the marinade express pro, feel free to do that.Rack Tip & Smoke Schedule
You can cook this in your oven, smoker, or even a dehydrator; just make sure that if you are doing this in your dehydrator that it gets above 160° first. Lay your jerky out flat on racks making sure to leave a way for air to flow through the racks; the easiest way to do this is to leave a 3" x 3" open space in the center of each rack. To get your probe thermometer to read correctly, go ahead and fold over one piece of jerky and insert the probe in between the folds.
We are doing it in our smoker, so we are starting it out at 120° with the vents wide open at both the top and the bottom. This is going to dry the surface of the jerky evenly and allow smoke to adhere and cook evenly, and we will run this drying phase for an hour. Now, we are going to move the temperature up to 145° for 2 hours and close the dampers two-thirds of the way. Finally, we will raise the temp to 175° and cook until the internal temp reaches 160°.Shop waltonsinc.com for Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers