Lots of people make their own jerky…but there are a lot of folks who are scared of making jerky. We’re going to dive into this topic to dispel some of the myths about cure, proper cooking (heat treating) and seasoning.
Making a batch of jerky is easier than making a batch of cookies. Seriously. It’s that easy.
There are 3 basic types of jerky or meat snacks. The items you need to make them are:
lean meat, seasoning, cure (sodium nitrite or celery juice powder) knife or grinder, drying racks and an oven, smoker or dehydrator.
Slab Jerky aka muscle jerky is the traditional style of jerky that’s been made for eons. It’s very simple to make.
Slice the meat as consistently as possible. Knife works fine, or you can use an actual meat slicer. Lean meat works better than fatty meat, fat can go rancid. Trim as much fat and connective tissue as possible before slicing.
Using the Lucky Brand Jerky Seasoning & Cure kit, blend 1 packet of seasoning and 1 packet of cure into a cup or two of cold water and add to 5lbs of meat. Allow the mixture to marinate for a couple days. If you want to add any additional seasoning, this is the time to do it. Adding a little brown sugar to the mix will help keep the jerky more moist.
After the meat and marinade have spent a couple days in the refrigerator – between 35 and 39 degrees F – the cure will keep the meat from spoiling. Now it’s time to lay the jerky out on oven racks for drying. (make sure and put some foil down below the meat, as it’s likely to drip as its drying.
Set the oven to 200F and check the meat every half hour or so. It usually takes at least a couple hours for the meat to reach temp, but once the internal temperature is 165F, it’s ready to come out of the oven.
Cool and enjoy. Jerky will keep for weeks in the refrigerator or at least a few days at room temp. The drier the jerky, the longer it will keep at room temp.
Ground and Formed Jerky
Ground and formed jerky is super easy to make and a great way to use up smaller pieces left over when slicing slab style jerky. It’s best to start with lean meat for ground and formed jerky 85 – 90% lean is best, but one can usually get away with 80% lean.
We recommend grinding the meat twice, first with a 3/8” grinder plate, then with a 3/16” or 1/8” plate.
Once the meat is ground, break it into 5 pound batches for seasoning & cure. Using the Lucky Brand Jerky Seasoning & Cure Kit, dissolve one packet of seasoning and one packet of cure into a cup or two of cold water. Take your time mixing the seasoning in, the better it’s dissolved, the better the jerky will come out.
Blend the marinade and meat until the meat becomes very sticky. The big boys call this “extracting the protein” and it’s what allows the ground and formed jerky to stick together nicely.
Now it’s time to either extrude the mixture onto drying racks or put it between a couple sheets of wax paper and roll it into approximately 1/4” thick slabs. Carefully peel the top layer off, and use the bottom layer to “flip” the slab onto the drying rack, then remove the new top piece before cooking.
Cooking instructions are the same. Cook the meat until the internal temperature is 165F, then cool. If you’re smoking the jerky, make sure and go easy on the smoke, the thin cross section of jerky takes on smoke flavor quickly, a little smoke goes a long way.
The process is exactly the same as ground and formed jerky, except instead of laying the mixture out flat, it’s extruded into a small sausage casing and heat treated. while hanging from the top rack. Cooking is the same, go with a low temperature 200F is great, and cook it until the internal temp reaches 165F, then shut the oven down, and open the door so it can cool while hanging. Meat snack sticks take a little practice, but don’t give up, the results are worth the work.
If you ever have questions when making jerky, just drop us an email or give us a call. We loving making jerky as much as we love helping people make their own jerky.