The E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria can be present in
the intestines of animals. It is more likely for game meat to be
contaminated with bacteria from the intestines than beef because
game is usually gutted in the field by amateur butchers without
access to running water and often in poor light. However, there
are concerns with bacteria on beef too so this method works well
with beef jerky also. Bacteria present on meat can be killed with
heat, rendering it harmless to human consumers. Unfortunately, many
home food dryers do not get hot enough to provide an adequate heat
treatment. Therefore, this method of pre-cooking the meat gives
a good margin of safety when making jerky.
1. Slice the meat into long pieces that are
a maximum 1/4 inch thick. Some people find it easier to slice meat
that is partially frozen. Slicing across the grain will result in
a more tender jerky. Remove all visible fat. It is not necessary
to completely freeze the venison to kill parasites when this pre-cooking
method is used.
2. Prepare a marinade in a large saucepan. Some
recipes for marinades follow, but any flavor you prefer can be used.
Make enough marinade to cover all the meat strips; the amount will
vary with the amount of jerky you make and the saucepan you choose.
A general guideline is 1 - 2 cups marinade for each one pound batch
3. Bring the marinade to a full rolling boil
over medium heat. Add a few meat strips, making sure that they are
covered by the marinade. Return to a full boil.
4. Using tongs, immediately remove meat from
the marinade to prevent over-cooking. Repeat the immersion process
until all meat has been given the heat treatment.
5. Place precooked strips on drying racks with
a small space between each strip. Dry in dehydrator at 160F for
3-4 hours, then lower temperature to 140F for about another 4 hours
or until dry. If drying in a household oven, the times tend to be
longer; plan on about 8 hours at 160F and then more time at 140F.
It is important that the temperatures not be higher, because you
want to dry the meat for safety, not just cook it. Bacteria require
moisture to grow so completely dry jerky is important for safety.
6. To test jerky for dryness, remove a piece
from the dryer, cool it, then bend it. It should crack but not break
and there should be no moist spots. Package air tight (so moisture
cannot re-enter the meat) and store at room temperature for a couple
of months, or freeze for longer storage. Longer storage at room
temperature is associated with off flavors.
A few brine recipes are included on this page
in case you do not have access to them. If adapting a recipe
from a cookbook, use one that is liquid, not a dry rub. When developing
the new pre-cooking method, taste panels found that both an overnight
soak plus the heat treatment in the marinade produced an undesirable
flavor. When you come across a recipe with seasonings you think
you will like, you may consider omitting the overnight soak step.
The flavors do penetrate more rapidly when dipped in the hot brine
than when soaked in a cold brine.
This marinade works well for venison, beef,
turkey or chicken jerky. It is adapted from a recipe by Sunset Books.
It makes enough for about 2 pounds of meat.
1/4 c soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon hickory smoke flavored salt
This recipe contains nitrates which were traditionally
used in curing jerky, but now most householders use them primarily
for making corned beef, ham or bacon. It takes time for the nitrates
to penetrate the meat, so this brine traditionally required a marinade
process of 8 to 10 hours in refrigerator. Unfortunately, when the
meat is both marinated for hours and then given the heat treatment,
the flavor is too strong. Our family enjoys a lighter cure so we
found the flavor to be acceptable when the long soak was omitted
and only the hot brine dip was used. Try a small batch to see if
the flavor is acceptable for your household before using this recipe
as a hot process on a large amount of meat. Use the following proportions
to make the amount you will need. Recipe adapted from Food Drying,
Pickling and Smoke Curing by Don Holm.
1 cup curing salt (such as Morton's Tender Quick)
1/2 cup brown sugar (use molasses for a strong flavor)
1 tsp. liquid garlic
2 quarts water
4 Tablespoons black pepper
Dip meat in hot brine, then blot
dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with onion salt, garlic salt, or
pepper if desired. Place on meat trays.
This one was never used as a long soak, so the
flavor is good with the new hot method. Recipe adapted from Food
Drying, Pickling and Smoke Curing by Don Holm.
2 cups salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cider
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 quarts water
Bring to a boil. Immerse meat according to pre-cooking
instructions. Some people prefer to rinse the meat in water between
the pre-cooking and drying step for a lighter flavor.