Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600823


     Muscles from the round are usually used since they  are
easily prepared and contain little fat.  However, any muscle
in  the carcass can be used.  Muscles from the round  or leg
are most  often used today.   It is recommended that muscles
be removed  from the  carcass  and  made into jerky the  day
after  the kill to  prevent  unnecessary   bacterial growth.
However, aged meat can be used.  Meat which has  been frozen
and thawed can also be used  satisfactorily.  Freezing  meat
for a month before jerky  is made  insures that it  will  be
free from  live  parasites   which  are  sometimes found  in
game meat.   In order to have freshly made  jerky during the
year,  many  people  freeze  meat  which is  to be made into
jerky.  The meat is then thawed in small quantities and made
into jerky as it is needed.                                 

     Meat should be trimmed of fat and connective tissue and
then cut into  strips one-fourth inch thick,  one inch wide,
and  up  to  a foot in length.   Cut with (not  across)  the
grain.   Small muscles,  one or two inches in diameter,  are
often  separated and made into jerky without being cut  into
strips.   These thicker pieces of meat take longer to absorb
the  salt and seasonings and longer to dry,  but with  these
exceptions, no changes in the jerky recipes need to be made.
Some recipes call for drying jerky in the sun.   Because  of
sanitation problems, this method is not recommended.        

     If jerky is dried to a low moisture content. (it should
be   crispy  and  leathery),   it  may  be  stored  at  room
temperature in air-tight containers.   Store moistened jerky
in the freezer for no longer than a month;  the saltiness of
the  product  encourages  rancidity.  Color  of the finished
jerky ranges from a light  brown to black.  Color variations
depend upon the recipe used, the species of animal,  and the
age of the animal.   The latter two factors are related   to
the myoglobin concentration  in fresh  meat.   Myoglobin  is
the pigment in meat  responsible for  color.   Higher levels
of myoglobin result  in  darker colored jerky.              

Checklist for Making Venison Jerky                          

     1.   Use  fresh  lean meat free of fat  and  connective
     2.  Slice the meat with the grain, not crosswise.      
     3.  Add the correct amount of seasoning.  If you do not
have  a scale, use approximate equivalent measures for jerky
recipes as follows:                                         

         Salt                10.5 oz.= 1 cup                
                              8.0 oz.= 3/4 cup              
                              2.0 oz.= 3 level tablespoons  

         Sugar                5.0 oz.= 2/3 cup              
                              3.5 oz.= 1/2 cup              
                              1.0 oz.= 2 level tablespoons  

         Ground Spices        0.5 oz.= 2 level tablespoons  
                              .08 oz.= 1 level tablespoons  

     4.   Cure  the  meat  the correct  length  of  time  at
refrigerator temperatures.   Salted meat should be placed in
plastic, wooden, stainless steel or tone containers.        
     5.   Keep  the  drying  or smoking temperature  in  the
smokehouse  or  oven  at  120  degrees  Fahrenheit  or below
after the first 30 minutes.  Oven or smokehouse temperatures
of 170-190 degrees Fahrenheit are often recommended for the 
first 30 minutes.                                           
     6.   If an oven is used, line the sides and bottom with
aluminum foil to catch the drippings.   Open the door to the
first  or  second stop to allow moisture to  escape  and  to
lower the oven temperature when necessary.                  
     7.  Use any hardwood for smoking.  Do not use pine, fir
or conifers.                                                
     8.  Remove the jerky from the smokehouse or oven before
it gets too hard for your taste.   Five pounds of fresh meat
should weigh approximately 2 pounds after drying or smoking.
     9.   Store jerky in clean jars or plastic bags, or wrap
it in  the  freezer  paper and freeze it.  Although properly
dried   jerky   will   last   almost   indefinitely  at  any
temperature, its quality deteriorates after a few months.   
     10.   Alter  seasonings and smoking or drying times  to
suit individual tastes.   Examples of spices which could  be
added to 5 pounds  of  meat  include:   2 tablespoons  chili
powder, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder,  2 tablespoons onion
powder, 1 tablespoon ginger,  2  tablespoons  coriander or 1
tablespoon allspice.                                        

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