The key to a safe and healthy work environment is attention to detail and excellent preparation habits. beefjerkyrecipes.com understands the importance of safe kitchen habits and we would like to take the time to give you some helpful tips in preparing to make the best beef jerky possible.
*Familiarize yourself with the USDA Fact Sheet before embarking on your jerky making journey. Ensure your hands and all items that will come into contact with your jerky are clean and sanitary.
Have your butcher cut the meat into ¼” thick strips with a width of 1”-1 ½” and length of 4”-10”. Whether the butcher cuts it or you do at home, cut with the grain for chewy jerky and across the grain for more of a tender, brittle jerky but be sure and keep the trimmings if you would like to make ground beef later.
* 6”-8” knife
* Cutting board
* Measuring equipment
* Mixing utensil
* Mixing bowl (glass or ceramic, not metal)
* 2+ pans
* Paper towels
* Storage container
* Collect all your utensils and wash everything including your hands. Have no other food products in the area and keep raw meat away from cooked meat.
Use glass or ceramic containers when working with marinades, as many will react with metal. Allow roughly ½ cup of marinade for each pound of meat. Dip each piece of meat into marinade, coating well. Place in shallow glass dish. Pour remaining marinade over top, cover and refrigerate for anywhere between 8-36 hours. The marinade process time span is up to you but the longer, the better. Remember to “overhaul” the meat every few hours if you can so it will cure evenly. Since cure is mostly salt and sugar, replace 1ts of cure for 1ts of salt in your recipe for every five (5) pounds of meat. When the meat is ready, remove it from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
A basic marinade (for 2lbs of meat):
* ½ c Worcestershire sauce
* ½ c Soy Sauce
* 3 T Catsup
* 2 T Brown Sugar
* ½ t Onion Powder
* 1 ½ t Salt
* 1 Clove of garlic, minced well
* Pinch of Pepper
Curing is completely optional however, if you’re going to dry or smoke something at or below 150 degrees for any length of time, you need to cure it! Curing meat just involves adding “curing salts” (Tender quick, Instacure, or Prague Powder) to the meat and giving the “cure” time to work (about 12 hours). The “curing salt” consists of a mix of salt, sugar and sodium nitrite. The main purpose of the cure is to protect against bad bacteria like botulism, which thrives in low cooking temps, no oxygen or warm meat. Meat is cured by the use of sodium nitrite. Never use more jerky seasoning and cure mix than a recipe calls for. However, feel free to add and adjust any other spices, herbs or flavorings to suit your own taste.
The curing process used to make jerky will greatly reduce the gamy flavor of wild meats. Prepare deer and rabbit as described for beef. Game birds should be treated like chicken.
TYPES OF CURES
Morton makes three meat cures:
* Morton® Tender Quick® Mix
* Morton® Sugar Cure® Plain
* Morton® Sugar Cure® Smoke Flavored
**Only Morton® Tender Quick® and Morton® Sugar Cure® PLAIN are interchangeable measure for measure.
**Morton® Sugar Cure® Smoke Flavored is used for DRY curing ham and bacon only.
**Table salt or canning salt cannot be used in place of curing salt. If used, you will get salted meat but the color and flavor of the meat will not be properly developed.
Some people chose to add their spices and marinade all together and make it one step. However, if you would like to marinade and then season your meat, you will need to drain or pat dry and lay out to season.
Basic Spices to start out with:
* Black Pepper
* Soy Sauce
* Worcestershire Sauce
* Brown Sugar/Honey
Other spices that are commonly used:
* Garlic Powder
* Onion Powder
* White Pepper
* Chile Powder
* Cayenne Powder
* Fresh Chiles
* Hot Sauce (my favorite)
* Garam Masala (Indian spice, mostly ground coriander, cumin, and cardamom)
* Lemon Pepper
* Sesame Oil
* Sesame Seeds
* Ground Ginger
* Fresh Ginger
* Green Onions
* Fresh Onion
* Dry Sherry
Worst-case scenario, it’ll probably still taste good. However, if you can’t taste it in the jerky, it’s probably not a necessity next time but be sure and make note of what you used during your process.
Ingredients: Fresh fruit, water, lemon juice, sugar and optional spices – cinnamon and nutmeg. (4 cups of fruit yield about one baking sheet of fruit leather)
1. Rinse, remove blemishes, peel skin, pit, core, deseed and/or hull if needed. Cut fruit into chunks. Test a piece of the fruit and if it’s very sweet you will not need to add any sugar. If it’s still a little tart, you may need to add some sugar in the next step.
2. Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add a half-cup of water for every 4 cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir. Use a potato masher to mash up the fruit in the pan. Taste the fruit and determine what and how much sugar, lemon juice, or spices to add. Add sugar in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time if working with 4 cups of fruit), to desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice one teaspoon at a time to help brighten the flavor of the fruit. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to augment the flavor.
3. Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes (or more).
4. Put the purée through a food mill or chinoise. Alternatively purée it thoroughly in a blender or food processor. Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary. The purée should be very smooth.
5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe). Pour out the purée into the lined baking sheet to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
6. Place the baking sheet in the oven; try to keep any plastic wrap from touch the sides of the oven or the oven racks. Also try to make sure that the plastic wrap hasn’t folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won’t dry out. Heat the oven to a low 140°F. If you have a convection setting, use it, it will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather, about 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface. Alternatives to the oven: food dehydratorWhen the fruit leather is ready, you can easily peel it up from the plastic wrap. To store it, roll it in its plastic wrap, put it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Do you want more information about making your own jerky? Download our Beef Jerky Recipes ebook while it's FREE and you'll also get a ton of tips, tricks and how-to videos to help you along your way! But hurry...it's only free for a limited time!