TRADITIONAL JERKY

Smokey, chewy and oh so good. Enjoy delicious beef jerky with a subtle smokiness to make your mouth water with each bite. Even better: that you made it yourself at home!
   
Ingredients for TRADITIONAL JERKY
 
Yield: 200-300g (final weight)
Beef Meat, Lean
1kg
Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons
Tomato Sauce (Ketchup)
1 tablespoon
Liquid Smoke (Optional)
1 tablespoon
Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons
Black Pepper, Ground
1 teaspoon
Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon
Prague Powder #1
Approx. 1/2 teaspoon
(check packaging to confirm quantity required)
 
METHOD:
BEFORE YOU START: Clean all of your equipment in hot, soapy water and rinse well before use. 
1.  Trim and discard fat and sinew from beef meat. Cut into steaks as thick as you’d like your jerky to be, then slice into strips 5mm or so thick. For soft jerky, cut across the grain. For chewy jerky, cut with the grain. Ensure all pieces are the same thickness so that they dehydrate at the same rate.
TIP: partially freezing the meat for 20-30 minutes makes it easier to trim and slice. 
IMPORTANT: Store meat in the refrigerator in a covered dish during preparation, taking some out to cut as required and returning the meat to the refrigerator as quickly as possible to limit bacterial growth.   
2.  Combine all ingredients (except for the meat strips) in a bowl. Add the meat strips and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.  
TIP: weigh the raw mixture before dehydrating.
3.  Arrange marinated meat strips onto dehydrator trays, with room (around 1cm) around each strip so they dry evenly. Dehydrate on meat setting 63-68°C (145-155°F) until the strips are pliable, which will take around 6 hours, possibly longer depending on your dehydrator model and how much jerky you are dehydrating in the same load (more trays = longer time). Alternate the meat strip directions on each dehydrator tray, so the jerky direction on one tray is the opposite direction to the tray above it.
4.  Check jerky temperature once finished in the dehydrator. Ensuring meat has been heated to at least 71°C (160°F) during drying is a safety precaution to kill pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli. If your jerky did not reach this temperature in the dehydrator, place the jerky onto a wire rack or oven tray and heat the jerky in the oven at 135°C (275°F) until it reaches a core temperature of at least 71°C (160°F), which is usually around 10 minutes.
5.  After drying, use paper towels to remove any moisture and allow the jerky to cool to room temperature on the trays.
6.  Dehydrated jerky should bend (not snap) and no moisture is felt when pressed. If moisture is felt, return jerky to the dehydrator (or finish in the oven). Cool completely before storage.
7.  Check jerky weight (to confirm water content) and check there is no moisture present. 1kg of prepared meat will weigh approximately 200-300g when dehydrated. For semi-dry jerky, the meat will bend. Fully dehydrated jerky will snap when bent. Large pieces of jerky can be cut into pieces with clean kitchen scissors (or a sharp knife
8.  Once jerky is dry, place into an airtight container, zip lock bag or vacuum seal for long-term storage. Bags are ideal for portioning jerky. Vacuum sealing extends the storage period of jerky, so is ideal for large batches. You can vacuum seal into jars/containers or in bags (oxygen absorbers recommended if available). Label and date packaging. Fully dry jerky will store at room temperature for 1-4 weeks, in the refrigerator for 1-3 months or freezer for 3-6 months (longer period is if vacuum packed, shorter period if Ziploc bag is used).
   
TIPS:
o    Adjust the recipe to your taste – why not make a smaller batch i.e. one tray, dehydrate, taste, adjust and then make lots more!
o    Dehydration time periods may vary – refer to your manual for directions;
o    Drying jerky in an oven: Preheat oven to 80°C (175°F) or as low a temperature as possible if your oven has a higher minimum temperature i.e. 150°C (300°F). Remember to use an oven thermometer to ensure the oven temperature is reached (and remains there). Line a baking tray with foil and place at the bottom of the oven to catch any drips. Spray racks with non-stick cooking spray and place jerky on top of each rack, in the opposite direction of the rack so the meat doesn’t drop through the rack as it dries (and shrinks) and doesn’t touch one another. Place racks in the oven, allowing at least an inch of space between each rack for air flow. Dry for 2-6 hours, checking from around two hours to see when the jerky is ready.  
o    Drying jerky in a hot smoker: a hot smoker adds great flavour to your homemade jerky! However, it is easy to over-smoke the thin pieces of jerky – do not use any extra smoking chips. Smoke jerky on low for 2- 3 hours then finish jerky in a food dehydrator or oven until dry.
 
  
Author: Megan Radaich          
Image credit: Megan Radaich          
Publication: Jerky Guide, available HERE

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