Jerky is the name given to raw meat that has been sliced thin, seasoned, and dried. It's eaten dried and won't reconstitute when water is added. Homemade jerky is far superior to commercial jerky and normally costs a small fraction of the cost per pound compared to its price per pound for commercial jerky. Four pounds of lean, fresh meat would make about 1 pound of jerky. Jerky was a staple in the diet of the pioneers and is still a popular food for camping and backpacking and it is a nutritional snack for everyone.
Kinds of Meats to Use for
Any lean meat would make good jerky, but some cuts are better than others. Sirloin tip roasts, rump roasts, the round, and the brisket all make great jerky. Flank steak is very good that it has gained the reputation of being the "filet mignon" of jerky. Watch out for meat specials in the store and try to get the best value.
It is also possible to use less expensive cuts of meat like chuck roasts; but having the higher fat content, there is less jerky per pound of meat, and the jerky won't keep as long without freezing or refrigeration.
Fully cooked boneless ham may also be made into jerky, but must be stored in the freezer or refrigerator if you plan to keep it for more than a week or two.
Game meats make delectable jerky, but be sure to keep the meat clean and cold until ready to dry to prevent contamination
Preparation for drying
1. Cut the meat across the grain in slices approximately 3/16-inch thick. The butcher will frequently cut the meat for you without additional charge. When you slice it yourself, partially freezing it makes it easier to slice evenly. Roasts are easier to slice and dry since you have larger pieces to work with.
2. Remove excess fat.
3. Marinate the sliced meat in one of the following recipes overnight in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container. You may also decide to smoke it if you have a meat and fish smoker, but generally, you marinate it first.
Jerky must be dried at a temperature of 140° to 160°F. to avoid bacterial growth.
- Dry the jerky in single layers until a piece cracks but does not break in pieces when you bend it.
- As it dries, blot it with paper towels to take out any excess beads of oil that may collect on the top.
- Cut the jerky into smaller pieces using kitchen scissors and remove any visible fat.
- Let it cool and store it in an airtight container.