- Pre-freeze meat to be made into jerky so it will be easier to slice.
- Cut partially thawed meat into long slices no more than � inch thick. For tender jerky, cut at right angles to long muscles (across the grain). Remove as much visible fat as possible to help prevent off-flavors.
- Prepare 2 to 3 cups of marinade of your choice in a large sauce pan.
- Bring the marinade to a full rolling boil over medium heat. Add a few meat strips, making sure they are covered by the marinade. Reheat to full boil.
- Remove pan from range. Using tongs, remove strips from hot marinade (work quickly to prevent overcooking) and place in single non-overlapping layers on drying racks. (Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the meat has been pre-cooked.) Add more marinade if needed.
- Dry at 140 to 150 �F in dehydrator, oven, or smoker. Test for doneness by letting a piece cool. When cool, it should crack but not break when bent. There should not be any moist or underdone spots.
- Refrigerate the jerky overnight in plastic freezer bags, then check again for doneness. If necessary, dry further.
Soaking the strips in marinade before precooking is not advised as the marinade could become a source of bacteria. Putting unmarinated strips directly into the boiling marinade minimizes a cooked flavor and maintains the safety of the marinade.
Source: Oregon State University
Hot Pickle Cure Jerky
Yield: 5 pounds of fresh meat should weigh approximately 2 pounds after drying or smoking.
- Slice 5 lb. of meat (� inch thick strips) with the grain. Use lean meat free of fat and connective tissue.
- Spread out meat and sprinkle on 3 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. ground black pepper, and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Put the meat in a pan or dish and let stand for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Pound the meat on both sides to work in the spice. Optional: Dip strips of meat in a liquid smoke solution (5 parts water to 1 part liquid smoke) for one to two seconds for added flavor.
- Make a brine by dissolving � cup salt, � cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. ground black pepper in a gallon of water. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Bring the brine to a low to medium boil. Immerse the fresh meat strips (a few at a time) into the boiling brine until they turn gray (one to two minutes). Remove meat from the bine, using clean tongs or other utensils that have not contacted raw meat.
- Spread out meat on a clean dehydrator rack or on a clean rack in the top half of a kitchen oven. If you use a kitchen oven, open the oven door to the first or second stop. Heat at 120 to 150 �F (lowest oven temperature) for 9 to 24 hours or until the desired dryness is reached.
- Remove jerky from oven before it becomes too hard or brittle. Properly dried jerky should crack when bent in half but should not break into two pieces.
- Store jerky in clean jars or plastic bags, or wrap it in freezer paper and freeze. If kept dry, properly prepared jerky will last almost indefinitely at any temperature, but its quality deteriorates after a few months.
Source: University of Wyoming