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Monday, October 12, 2015

Making Simple Jerky

A couple of days after I butchered the goat last week, I made my first ever jerky. Chevron jerky. This wether was about two and a half years old, and should have been butchered a while back. The only meat I left whole were the two back legs. I baked one while I was grinding the rest, and it came out very tough. We chewed on some of it for a few meals, then I froze the rest. It can go into a jar the next time I can some stock or soup. From this same leg, before I cooked it, I cut out a big chunk of meat with the idea of trying some jerky. This is a task I have wanted to try for quite some time.


A while back, I don't remember if I mentioned it or not, someone out there told me in a comment that very simple jerky could be made with sliced meat, salt and pepper. That is exactly what I was looking for. I don't want to buy an extruder and have to grind the meat, mix it with whatever, then squirt it out on a sheet of something that won't let it fall through the cracks. I know some folks make excellent jerky this way, but I wanted something very simple. I stored the meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator until I was ready to make jerky. You know, that place on the top shelf that will make boiled eggs freeze solid? Right there. It was good and cold when I got it out and started slicing, which made it pretty easy.


I wasn't sure how much salt and pepper to use, so this time I only sprinkled it on one side, pressed it in and placed the meat on my standard dehydrator trays.


The directions in this book said to dry at about 180* for four hours, turn it over, then dry for another six to eight hours. The problem with that is that eight hours later was about 1:30 am, and I knew I wouldn't be up then, so I figured a little extra drying time wouldn't hurt. The baby chicks were in the room I normally use for dehydrating, so we moved next door into the pantry. There isn't room in the kitchen, so the dehydrator lives elsewhere in the house. Here is the jerky at four hours. It looked very good to me.


I turned off the dehydrator at 6:00 the next morning. Needless to say, the meat was dry, probably too dry. You can't bite off a piece, you kind of have to chew it off. The four tray Excalibur dehydrator we use is very simple, with a knob that controls the temperature. It doesn't have an on/off switch, so we plug it into a power strip that does.


What did we think? Frank's seal of approval is still out for deliberation. Me? I think it's great! I am very pleased with the process, the ingredients and the taste. Now I have to learn how to store it so it doesn't go rancid or mold or something. I know I can keep it in the freezer, but what if we don't have electricity one day?


One of the reasons I am interested in jerky to begin with, is that it is another way to store meat besides canning. Canned meat is very nutritious, but it is one of my least favorite ways to eat meat as far as flavor goes. Fresh cooked meat is great, but if you're in TEOTWAWKI stage of life, the day of butchering will be one of the only days that fresh meat will be available. Jerky is also a great way to store protein and salt in an easy to transport package. If times get really lean, it will also give your mouth something to do for a while in times of hunger. All of these things come to mind when I think of making jerky from our chevron, or goat meat. I'll try the same thing when we butcher our first pig. Meat from American Guinea Hogs is more of a red than pinkish white meat you see from many pigs.

The goal in learning simple, efficient ways to grow, cook and store food will hopefully make a difference when survival is the name of the game. Packing nutrition into every item in a meal, instead of empty calories void of nutrients, will be an absolute necessity if we're going to make it. The shear volume of work required to live in a collapse, grid down, do everything yourself or you won't make it situation, will require adequate nutrition, or will soon turn into an impossibility. Think about it. Seriously. Think long and hard, discuss it with your friends and family that are on board. Come up with solutions that will fit your situation and implement them. Now.

Until next time - Fern

30 comments:

  1. Our first jerky turned out much the same way. It was slices of the back legs from a steer we butchered. We marinated them in the refrigerator for a day or so, in a mix of vinegar, salt, pepper, and whatever spices we wanted. It kept great (except when the cats got to it), was brittle and not at all chewy (darn!), and tasted quite nice.

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    1. I took the strong scissors to the jerky, Joshua, and cut it into bite size pieces. It's more manageable now, and still tastes good. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

      Fern

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  2. We make jerky every year. Once done, it should not have to be stored any special way, just in an airtight jar or even a muslin bag. Keeps forever. We marinate the thin sliced meat in a mixture of red wine, soy sauce and a little liquid smoke for flavor. Lots of coarse ground pepper when it goes into our dehydrator. We let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of days at least of for however long it takes for me to get to it. We found the recipe online under the heading "worlds best beef jerky" years ago. You can add or subtract ingredients to taste. The whole idea behind jerky is that once dried there will not be enough moisture for mold or bacteria to survive.

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    1. Excellent information Tewshooz. Thank you for that. We need to give jerking a try, and I think I'll follow your suggestions, even try to find that recipe!

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    2. Good advice, Tewshooz. Since we had never made it before, I just wasn't sure. I've read that you have to freeze it or vacuum seal it, but most folks don't say it's just fine in a jar, so thank you. And thank you for your recipe.

      Fern

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  3. First, english is not my first language;
    You have other ways to cure meat, for lambs or goats I never have pactice,but your can find recepies of lamb ham in the Shetland islands. For pork or veal your can prepare the meat without any of the modern commodities. Making saussages, lomo, or curing bacon just demand a brine made of water salt garlic laurel and any spices you like. You put the meat in the brine let lactoferment for 3 or 4 days and after that you make the different saussages, beng cautious to expel all the hair from the casing or you hang the piece of meat in a ventilated room with some smoke. Your meat is going to be ok for years without no special storage. Just one thing that must be done in cold months. For pork ham just cover the meat in salt let the formed water go away and count 1 days for pound hang the ham and your done. The lacto fermentation prevent the mold to come. If your meat is too tough you can use the brine to lacto ferment the meat one or two days before cooking the way you like

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    1. your english is excellent and thank you for sharing these recipes - i just learned something new and i thank you for that!

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    2. Very good information, we appreciate it. We hope to be able to cure some of the meat from our pigs when we butcher them. That will be an interesting experience. Thank you again for the information.

      Fern

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  4. I was wondering this myself!! I have a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer (I call it my sucky machine) and was wondering if I could use this to preserve the meat. I worry about it causing botulism in the meat, however, since the meat would be in an anaerobic and warm environment! When I was beginning classes to be a Master Food Processor, we were told that there are three requirements for botulism - an anaerobic environment, warmth (anything above 34 degrees), and moisture. I know with drying the meat most of the moisture would be removed, but not all. I was hoping one of your readers would know the answer to this. In the meantime, I store mine in the freezer. We will have our freezer running even after TEOTWAWKI, because it is run on a stand-alone solar system. Thanks, Frank and Fern!

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    1. I think there are lots of folks that seal just about everything with their Food Saver, Vickie, but we have never had one, so I have no advice there. Maybe someone else will share their experience. Thank you for sharing.

      Fern

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  5. You may change your mind about the canned meat if you can pork. Our favorite is to cook skin on potatoes about half done, drain most of water then dump in a pint of pork and simmer 15 minutes or till potatoes are done.
    I always use the meat in a recipe (any meat) good that way.

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    1. That sounds really good. We have canned salmon, chicken and turkey, but no red meat yet. Thank you very much for letting us know pork is good canned since we do plan to can some when we butcher our pigs.

      Fern

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  6. I have made deer jerky and kept it is a quart mason jar, I wrapped a peice of muslin around a package of Oxygen absorber and then put the jerky in the jar. I tightened the lid each time I had a snack and the jerky lasted well. I am not sure what The USDA guidleines on storing jerky are but this worked for me.

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    1. Good idea, Fiona, thank you for sharing it.

      Fern

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  7. I would think that if you vacumn - packed the meat it would keep for a long time. Pack it in smaller packs and would be very carryable wherever you had to go. Donna in Texas

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    1. Not a bad idea, Donna. It's good to hear from you again.

      Fern

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  8. I've made jerky for years. (Usually beef jerky) It's never molded. You can buy oxygen absorbers to add to your packages, (whether in jars, mylar or vinyl) which will help preserve any of your dried foods. We love our dehydrator and store a lot of our foods in vacuum sealed bags and glass jars. If I may be keeping the dried food for a long period of time, I'll add an oxygen absorber just to be on the safe side.

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    1. We've used oxygen absorbers in the past, Linda, but not for a while. Thank you for sharing your techniques.

      Fern

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  9. Your finished jerky is not in an anaerobic environment during the drying or storing. There us always aid circulating around it, Freezing jerky is defeating the purpose, as is vacuum sealing. Jerky is nothing more than dried, seasoned meat. It has been eaten for hundreds of years before refrigeration. Used to be made by hanging strips over racks in the sun. You want oxygen circulating around the meat. That is why you trim all the fat off before drying. It is the fat that goes rancid. Why would an oxygen absorber make dried foods safer?

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    1. Tewshooz, I was taught that lack of oxygen, from the absorber, prevents bacteria or mold from growing since they need oxygen to survive. Maybe some other folks have more information on this topic. Thank you for asking.

      Fern

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  10. Fern - we don't dehydrate our meat as we don't have animals! our source for protein if it hits the fan is the fish that my husband catches - like mackeral, trout and bass. we have a smoker and this year is the first year that we started smoking the fish. OMG - is it ever good! i think i would like to try making venison jerky next year with some of the deer that my husband hunts...and i have learned some nifty recipes in your post and in the comments. thank you!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Smoked fish is a great protein, Kymber, good for you. We know several folks that make venison jerky. Let us know how yours turns out. These comments are great, aren't they? Thank you for yours.

      Fern

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  11. I love jerky! It is so expensive to buy, so we make some venison jerky every year.
    It never last very long around here, so storing long term has never been an issue.

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    1. Sounds like you need to make a bigger batch, Sandra! Lots of folks like venison jerky.

      Fern

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  12. are you sure you want to jerk pork?
    what about trichinosis?
    best to cure it, don't you think?
    just a thought.

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    1. Interesting thought, Deb. I hadn't thought of that or done any research on it yet, so I don't know. I will read up on it before we do anything, though. I would like to learn how to make bacon, but that experiment is way down on the list of things to do for now. Thank you for your thoughts.

      Fern

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  13. Excellent post Fern. Jerky is something I haven't tried yet, but really should, since we have two bucklings coming up for chevon directly. How is your humidity? Ours is sufficiently high that if I over-dry foods they actually soften again with time. They don't spoil, but they don't remain rock hard.

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    1. High humidity here, Leigh. When I make more jerky, I think I will store it in quart jars, just to keep the humidity out. I think we have similar problems in that area.

      Fern

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  14. When I was a kid living in Nevada my step dad, who was Shoshone, would cut a deer into strips, roll the strips in black pepper (to keep the flies off of the meat) and then hang the strips on the metal wires of the clothesline to dry. The resulting product was hard as a rock, but delicious. My brother and I added to the flavor of the meat I'm sure by all the dust from our Tonka trucks as we played beneath the clothesline. ;-) After growing up on that jerky I can hardly stand to eat the stuff that is called jerky from the grocery store.
    Now that I live in a wetter climate I've decided I need to utilize the methods the tribes in this area used to preserve meat, which means it has to have some smoking to dry it out sufficiently.

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    1. What great memories, MissV, and I didn't know black pepper would help keep flies away. That's good to know. Store bought anything is not as good as home made. It spoils us, doesn't it? Not such a bad thing to spoil ourselves with healthy food, though. Thank you for sharing.

      Fern

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