By Rinella Family Outdoors
Jerky is an iconic wild game fare, loved by hunters and non-hunters alike.
It is often the most requested meat and is a great way to introduce wild game to those that are not accustomed to it.
Jerky can be made using a variety of recipes to accommodate any dietary need and flavor preference.
When using clean ingredients, jerky is healthy, pure and full of protein, making it the perfect food to provide energy on your next hunt.
Not only is jerky a great way to preserve meat, it also frees up freezer space and can easily be made at home with a few simple pointers.
Tips and Tricks for Successful Jerky Making:
- Jerky can be made throughout the year; it does not have to be made immediately after the harvest. Simply wrap and label the meat you plan to use for jerky, stick in the freezer and pull it out when you have the time.
- When it comes to choosing the cut of meat to use, there are many options:
-Using scrap meat is a great way to use up less desirable cuts of meat or meat you would otherwise grind.
-Use a larger, more tender cut of meat such as a roast or steak if you want nice, uniform pieces of jerky without much grizzle so that it is not as chewy.
- Partially frozen meat is much easier to slice into thin and uniform pieces, so ensure that you do not fully thaw your meat.
- For a chewy, soft texture, cut with the grain of the meat. For a crisper jerky with more of a snap, cut against the grain.
- The thickness of your jerky is a matter of preference, we suggest cutting your pieces between 1/8 to a ¼ inch thick. Keep in mind, the thinner the cuts; the faster they will dry.
- Once your meat is sliced, prepare a marinade of your choice. When it comes to marinades, your preference is key. Jerky can be made sweet or spicy, fruity or smoky, hot or mild. The possibilities are endless and totally customizable to your liking.
For a sweeter jerky, add maple, for a more savory jerky, use a combination of seasonings and spices your family enjoys.
- Allow meat to marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours, or as recipe indicates.
- Your meat is now ready to dry. No special equipment is needed for this step.
Although a dehydrator or smoker can be used, they are not necessary; jerky can be made in an oven.
Lay meat on racks and set temperature and timer.
If using a dehydrator: set temperature between 145-155 degrees and dry for 1.5-2.5 hours. Dehydrators may vary.
If using the oven: turn oven to lowest temperature (around 170 degrees) and crack the door open. Let meat dry for anywhere between 4 and 7 hours.
- Take the meat out while it is still malleable as it will continue to harden after being removed.
- After jerky is finished, store in a secret hiding place to ensure it does not disappear within days.