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Jerky: The Topic


bunny
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Not to cut on Alton Brown, who I like, but jerky's easy to make in your oven.  Just spread the marinated strips on foiled cookie sheet sprayed with Pam.  Put the sheet in your oven set at the lowest temperature (100 - 125 F).  Put a folded dish towel in the opening of the oven door to keep temperature down and air circulating.  It doesn't have to be open much, just  a half inch or so.  After 8 - 10 hours, it's all set!

You might want to try the Brown mwthod for fun, but with the oven there are no fiberglass, cat hair, or gray gunk worries.

I mess with something similar to that but use a pizza screen instead of a cookie sheet, until I got a dehydrator.

Jim

Jim Tarantino

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes

Ten Speed Press

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Well, Alton's whole theory (and I plan on testing several methods to compare and to see if he's right) is that both oven and dehydrator methods add heat, even though in small quantities, that slightly cooks the meat, which is not what he was looking for. Most of the commercial dehydrators, he says, don't have fans powerful enough to dry it without the help of a small heating element.

So I do want to try his method, to see if it results in a chewier, more authentic jerky than the crumbly stuff I've had from dehydrators. Once I find the right filters I'll experiment and report back; the trouble right now is finding the filters.

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So I do want to try his method, to see if it results in a chewier, more authentic jerky than the crumbly stuff I've had from dehydrators. Once I find the right filters I'll experiment and report back; the trouble right now is finding the filters.

If you can't find the right filters, you could probably achieve the same effect with watercolor papers (found in art supply stores or sometimes hobby stores) laid on top of an old window screen.

I'm interested in your results, as I don't like how the cheap dehydrators also cook fruits and vegetables.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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While AB's online (and TV) recipe for jerky specified AC filters among the "hardware", I recall him using furnace filters at a cooking demo I attended. I have no idea if paper furnace filters are any easier to find than paper AC filters, but that would at least give you another product to investigate.

I also recall AB waxing droll during that demo about seeking filters at his local hardware store, and trying to avoid admitting to the "manly men" down there that he needed them for cooking. :laugh: But now I think of it, I vaguely recall he went to a local indie store rather than one of those big box stores, specifically to find store personnel who might actually know something about their stock. :smile:

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Great idea... We in fact have a great small-town hardware store just like that and I'm ashamed I just now thought of going there. The kind of place that will give you 15 minutes of service just to find three 10-cent screws.

I'm curious whether or not I can re-use the filters after one run of jerky. I would like to eventually (if this works well) come up with a device maybe with two filters enclosing it but something reusable or very cheap lining the inside. Maybe watercolor filters as suggested, or maybe screens.

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I believe the filters you are looking for are made by 3M and go under the brand name Filtrete. These filters look JUST like the ones he used in the show, but they are expensive... like 10 bucks a piece.

WhizWit.net -- My blog on Food, Life, and Politics
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I believe the filters you are looking for are made by 3M and go under the brand name Filtrete.  These filters look JUST like the ones he used in the show, but they are expensive... like 10 bucks a piece.

On his show, AB claimed that the filters were $1 a piece, but I have never seen filters that cheap for any model of furnace or AC. It always struck me that once these guys get a cooking show and have little producer minions doing all of their shopping, that these hosts suddenly "forget" what things cost or how much time it might take to source it.

S. Cue

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Yeah, I am certainly not paying $10 apiece for four filters that I may or may not be able to use again! I really want to try the method, though, so what about some sort of box contraption with a filter on the fan end (to keep dust, etc., off the meat), something inside to hold the meat in layers, and something on the outbound end, maybe even cotton sheet.

There has to be a cheaper way of doing this. I did see a pack of three filters for $7, but they were fiberglass. My last resort is to check this heating/air conditioning supply store nearby and see if they have el-cheapo paper filters.

Jerky or bust.

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Hmm...the way we make home-made dried fish is to buy a cheap plastic laundry hanger (the round type with lots of pegs hanging down if possible, peg up the briefly brined strips of meat (or small butterflied fish by their tails), swathe the whole thing in coarse cheesecloth or netting so that the netting doesn't touch the meat or fish, and hang up in a shady place with a good breeze, such as just inside a window or on a balcony. Should be done in 12 hours.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm contemplating jerky. Nothing fancy- just sliced beef, marinaded in salt, sugar and spices, dried on a rack in a medium hot oven. I plan on storing my jerky in the fridge and consuming it within a few weeks.

What does a dehydrator bring to the party? And Nitrates (other than color and preservation)?

The way I see it, mankind has been drying salted/seasoned meat without a dehydrator or curing salts for thousands of years.

For those that do jerky in the oven, do you have any tips? I'm guessing multiple racks (if possible) is a good idea to maximize surface area, correct? Does ground beef work for jerky?

Edited by scott123 (log)
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I have made it both ways, in an oven and in a dehydrator. I like to use the dehydrator because it has a number of racks,

I've never used any nitrates.

I usually marinate in soy sauce, wine, and garlic. Don't over marinate, as my Dad did, because it will become too salty to eat.

I've never made jerky of ground beef but have dried it in the oven for back packing so I guess it would be considered a form of jerky.

Edited to correct spelling.

Edited by BarbaraY (log)
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I make jerky all the time (in fact, I'll be marinating some tonight to be dried tomorrow). Never have I used nitrates. I always use an oven or a smoker. I've never tried ground beef. I know that it is possible to press and form ground beef and make jerky out of it because I've seen little gizmos to do such a thing; however, I wouldn't want to try it because of bacterial issues. Another thing they say is that it is best to quickly get the meat's surface temp up to 165 F for 15 seconds before turning the heat way down to dry it. I've never done this, but I'm sure it is safer that way.

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Just wanted to update this thread. Yep I use two racks, and that seems to hold all the meat most of the time (5 lbs.) if it is sliced at between 1/4 and 1/8 inches thick. For the really small pieces that won't stay on the rack without falling, I use a wire cooling rack placed on the oven rack since it has cross wires and smaller (1/4 inch I think) openings. Also, I don't know what type of marinade or rub you'll use, but if it is pretty wet, I'd blot the meat first to speed up the drying process (I use a spice, soy sauce, terriyaki, worcestershire mix marinated overnight). I started with about 165 F to get the oven up to heat, and then when the meat was hot to the touch (but I doubt all the way up to 160 F) turned it down to about 140 F (which is the lowest temp that my oven will go to). It usually takes about 8 hours to dry at this point depending upon the thickness of the meat. I just remove pieces as they are ready and make sure that any minor meat overlap is rectified as the meat begins to dry and contract.

When it is done I bag it and store it in the fridge. I'm sure it would be fine at room temp, but since I don't use nitrites or nitrates, I figure that the fridge is safest, even though it is loaded with salt. I've made over 20 batches like this and have never had any problems with getting sick. Either I'm lucky or doing something right. Couldn't tell you which though. :wink:

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I've had good luck making oven jerky with beef and venison. One trick if you want to lower the oven temp for the drying portion is to put a dish towel in the crack of the oven door with the oven on its lowest setting. Keeps an even lower temp although it runs a little more.

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Why a dehydrator?

Most dehydrators act like a convection oven. They usually have a small fan that will circulate the hot air within the closed system of the dehydrator. You get a more evenly dried jerky.

With a regular oven there may be hot & cool spots which may mean some pieces won't be dried as well as other pieces.

Clean up isn't much fun with a regular oven (my mom would line the bottom of her oven with foil for easier cleaning).

Some dehydrator racks (depends on the make and model) can be put into the dishwasher or can be easily cleaned in the kitchen sink.

We never used nitrates either. Just a sort of soy/teriyaki marinade.

When I had my dehydrator, I'd put a batch in before I went to bed and when I got up in the morning, I'd have beef jerky waiting for me. And the house smelled great. :wub:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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this is wonderful I've never done this before and was wondering if someone who has had success would be willing to give me step by instructions from marinating to proper temps and time. There is a wonderful carneceria by me that ofers all sorts of cuts of meat from flank steak to chuck in wafer thin slices. It would wake wonderful jerky.

Also has anyone ever attempted a version of pemmican. I live in socal so i have alot native plants and berries available. would love to know more about if anyone does and is willing to share.

Scooby Doo can doo doo, but Jimmy Carter is smarter
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  • 1 year later...

I've been research recipes for beef jerky today, and I must say I am very amused. Virtually every recipe has instructions on how to slice the tasty hunk of cow, but they are all wildly different. In the last hour, I've seen advocates of:

* Slice as thinly as possible with the grain

* Slice 1/2" thick against the grain

* Slice 1/4" on the bias

* Don't cut your meat, use Oscar Meyer bologna (I'm not kidding!)

I am a proponent of lots of ideas, but I just don't see the advantage of not cutting with the grain of the meat. In my mind, jerky is supposed to be chewy and not brittle, not paper thin, and definitely not against the grain--cause then it just isn't chewy enough :smile:

What do you guys think?

Please delete my account from eGullet

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I usually buy a london broil and cut it like I was serving it as steak. Marinade overnight or all day and then at least 12 hours in the dehydrator on low. Comes out great. If a round steak, I just cut long strips regardless and cook on high.

But, you left out one option. Those who puree the beef with spices and liquid and then pour in molds/containers and dry. Mostly commercial, but the best green chile jerky I ever had was this way.

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I like to slice on a long bias so the meat fibers are plus or minus an inch long.

This works well for people who don't want to use the stuff for flossing. :biggrin:

Of course, this depends on the type of meat you are using and how far you will take the drying.

Other people in my informal barbecue group, (we often buy large portions of meat as a group and divvy it up, such as the entire round, top & bottom) like to slice the meat (more like a slab than a slice) with the grain but they twist and pound it (difficult to describe the technique exactly) to weaken some of the linear strands and it seems to work quite well.

After removing the outer membrane and most of the fat, they slice off about a 1 inch slab, hook one end of it on a spike and twists the slab until it looks like a thick hose. It is then pounded with a iron rod (actually a fireplace poker with the hook sawed off the end) then twisted the other direction and pounded again. When laid flat, it gets a bit more pounding, along with applying a seasoned rub, with a meat tenderizer club or a batticarne. The one guy that regularly does this has one with a handle that looks rather like a mini griddle and the business end is about four or five inches in diameter.

Found one at Amazon: it's like this one, not quite as pretty.

The meat ends up less than 1/2 inch thick by the time it goes into the dehydrator (or smoker, which is what several folks use).

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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There are so many factors that go into making jerky:

1) the type of meat

2) how you cut the meat

3) the marinade/ seasoning

4) drying method

5) degree of dehydration desired/ achieved

My husband has been experimenting for years and has developed an amazing sweet/hot jerky that is chewey and complex. He uses flank steak and cuts it about 1/2 to 1" thick against the grain and marinates it for 3 days in a teriyaki sauce that has chili oil and other spices added to it. Once the marinade process is done, he pats each piece dry and pops it into the dehydrator which is put either in the garage or on the back patio (never left in the house, too fragrant!). He takes paper towels and pats off the excess oils and moisture that develops every 12 hours or so. We use an electric dehydrator, the circular kind that has stacked trays. The trickiest part is to dry the meat enough, we have found that it may seem dry at one point but if you seal it up (food saver) it may have too much moisture. It should seem just a little crispy at the edges and it seems to soften up just a bit once it hits room temperature.

This stuff is so good that my brother-in-law traded a pound of it for a mixed case of very fine wines!

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There are so many factors that go into making jerky:

1) the type of meat

2) how you cut the meat

3) the marinade/ seasoning

4) drying method

5) degree of dehydration desired/ achieved

My husband has been experimenting for years and has developed an amazing sweet/hot jerky that is chewey and complex.  He uses flank steak and cuts it about 1/2 to 1" thick against the grain and marinates it for 3 days in a teriyaki sauce that has chili oil and other spices added to it.  Once the marinade process is done, he pats each piece dry and pops it into the dehydrator which is put either in the garage or on the back patio (never left in the house, too fragrant!).  He takes paper towels and pats off the excess oils and moisture that develops every 12 hours or so. We use an electric dehydrator, the circular kind that has stacked trays.  The trickiest part is to dry the meat enough, we have found that it may seem dry at one point but if you seal it up (food saver) it may have too much moisture.  It should seem just a little crispy at the edges and it seems to soften up just a bit once it hits room temperature. 

This stuff is so good that my brother-in-law traded a pound of it for a mixed case of very fine wines!

considering it takes three days plus a heck of a lot of work and beast to make a pound, i would expect no less.

with the 1" pieces, what is the final thickness?

Please delete my account from eGullet

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considering it takes three days plus a heck of a lot of work and beast to make a pound, i would expect no less.

with the 1" pieces, what is the final thickness?

The funny thing is it all really depends on the moisture content of the meat. Generally the final pieces are between 1/4" and 1/2" I would suppose. Being a "girl" about measurements though, I could be off a bit. :laugh: The final pieces are meaty and chewey- not leathery or coarse. You can feel the strands of muscle providing a very satisfying texture and chew. The flavor hits you with the sweet of the teriyaki at first and as you continue to chew the heat develops. By the time you are on your third bite you have a satisfying warmth but keep adding the sweet to it. The jerkey really is amazing :raz: Hmmm, I think I need to go buy some flank steak now and pursuade him to start a new batch. 10 pounds of meat yields 1-2 pounds of jerkey.

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Where I buy my meat for jerky they slice it for me! They slice it as thin as possible and cross-grain, kinda like how you slice a brisket. Shorter fibers are easier to chew than the long, with-the-grain fibers.

I always pound the slices a little thinner after it has marinated.

Bob R in OKC

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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