Many folks buy dehydrators primarily for making some form of jerky, but are often a little bit unsure of how to make the perfect kind of jerky. In this article we will take a look at some of the best and easiest means to make that perfect jerky.
Selecting the best meat
Now the very first step in creating a fine jerky batch is to have the best kind of meat. So how do you select the ideal kind of meat? If you are buying meat to dry, then we would recommend that you look for anything that is lean and relatively fat free. Fat does not dehydrate very well, and of course it doesn’t do your body any favors. If you are using a form of ground meat, then try to get some that is around 90% lean or more. If you are using meat that you have hunted, then try to trim as much fat off as possible before putting it in the dehydrator.
How thick should you make it?
As a general guide, the thinner the slices are the quicker they will dry out. At the same time though you don’t want them too thin as that will waste space in the dehydrator. If you are worried about making them too thick, then simply remember to keep them under 1/4″ wide. This will provide you with a decent amount of jerky that will not take too long to make, but will also provide enough of a mouthful to keep you satisfied. Remember to slice with the meat grain if you want a chewy kind of jerky.
What kind of spice should you use?
Some of you may prefer adding a little flavor to your jerky, but how do you determine which will work best with your kind of jerky? For beef jerky there are a wide range of single spices you could use, or combine them all for a good mixture. Onion powder, salt, garlic powder and dried thyme all work very well to enhance the flavors of the beef. There are some great recipes using these different kinds of spices to make a good mixture, so keep an eye out for these. You can also purchase specific beef jerky related flavors, all of which boil down to your personal preference.
What kind of temperatures should you dry it at?
When drying out jerky, you need to be sure that the temperature is high enough to kill any form of bacteria that can develop on the meat. This includes all kinds of pathogens, especially e-coli and salmonella. As a general guide, you want to dry meat between the temperatures of 140F – 155F. This temperature range provides two major benefits. Firstly it is high enough from preventing any bacteria from forming on the meat. Secondly it is low enough to dehydrate the meat thoroughly, making sure that it will dry out properly not only on the exterior but also on the interior. If you set the temperature too high, then the meat will not dry in the middle leaving you with a uncooked product. Remember to look out for a quality dehydrator that will provide this temperature consistently for the best results.
How do you store the finished product?
Once you have your batch of freshly dried jerky you may be wondering how best to store it. If you intend to eat it within a month or two, then it is quite safe to keep it at room temperature for that period of time. If you have a means to vacuum seal it then that will extend the life of it considerably. If you are looking for a means to store it for between 6 months to a year then your best bet will be to freeze it. This will be the best means to keep it in an edible state as long as possible.
Hopefully this article has given you a good place to start in making the best jerky possible. If you haven’t yet acquired a good dehydrator for making jerky, then head over to our reviews section to look at some of the best models currently available.