All you need to know about Jerky, courtesy of another site...including the food borne illness risk and proper technique for the home preparer
Jerky is made by drying thin strips of lean meat to about one-fourth its original weight. In the past, preparation and heating recommendations for jerky have been quite general.
Recommendations have included drying in the sun, oven or dehydrator. Sun drying is no longer recommended due to a lack of steady controlled heat source (145°F) and the potential for contamination from animals, insects, dust and bacteria. Although drying in the oven or dehydrator allows for a safer product, illnesses in recent years due to Salmonella
and Escherichia coli
O157:H7 in homemade jerky products have raised questions about the safety of all methods of drying jerky products at home.
O157:H7 is especially dangerous because of the severe consequences of infection, particularly for people who are young, elderly or immuno-compromised. The pathogen has a very low infectious dose, thus raising concerns for food products consumed raw or with inadequate cooking. In addition, E. coli
O157:H7 can adapt to acidic conditions and has been found to survive many weeks on dry surfaces, even at refrigerated temperatures. Thus, there is a strong indication for the potential risk of E. coli
O157:H7 surviving in dried foods.
One method for ensuring the adequate destruction of E. coli
O157:H7 during jerky preparation is to pre-cook the meat to 160°F before drying. This method is currently recommended by the Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-800-535-4555) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Pre-cooking creates a product that is different than traditional jerky and therefore may not be well received by consumers. Also, the product may not dry evenly throughout because of case-hardening on the outside surface.
The jerky preparation methods given below were developed as part of a joint project between the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University, and were found effective in reducing E. coli
O157:H7 numbers in inoculated samples.
Use only lean meats in excellent condition. Round, flank and chuck steak, rump roast, brisket and cross rib are good choices. Highly marbled and fatty cuts do not work as well. When preparing jerky products, keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods. Remove any thick connective tissue and gristle from meat. Trim off visible fat with a sharp knife. Fat becomes rancid quickly and causes the development of off-flavors during drying or storage. Freeze meat in moisture-proof paper or plastic wrap until firm but not solid.
Slice the meat on a clean cutting board while still slightly frozen into long thin strips, approximately c- to ¼-inch thick, 1 to 1½-inches wide and 4 to 10 inches long. If chewy jerky is preferred, slice with the grain; slice across the grain for a more tender, brittle jerky. Lay the strips out in a single layer on a clean and sanitized smooth surface (cutting board, counter top, cookie sheet). Flatten the strips with a rolling pin so they are fairly uniform in thickness.
Always wash and sanitize cutting boards, utensils, and counters with hot, soapy water before and after any contact with raw meat or juices. To make a sanitizing solution, use 1 teaspoon of household chlorine bleach per quart of water.
Hot Pickle Cure Preparation Method Pickling Spices:
Ingredients per two pounds of lean meat
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
Hot Pickle Brine:
3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons black pepper 1 gallon water
Place jerky slices on clean cookie sheets or flat pans. Evenly distribute half of the pickling spices on the top surfaces of the jerky slices. Press spices into the meat slices with a rubber mallet or meat tenderizer. Turn slices and repeat on opposite sides. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Combine ingredients for hot pickle brine (salt, sugar, pepper, water) in a large kettle. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar and bring to a slow boil (175°F). Place a few meat slices at a time in a steamer basket and lower into brine. Simmer for 1½ to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all pieces are immersed.
Lift basket out of kettle and drain off liquid. Using clean tongs, remove meat pieces and place flat, without touching each other, on clean dehydrator trays, oven racks or other drying trays. Immediately begin drying as described below. Repeat process until all meat pieces have been pickled in the brine solution and placed in the dehydrator.
Vinegar-Marinade Preparation MethodDirections:
Ingredients per two pounds of lean meat slices:
2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon hickory smoked salt
Place 2 cups vinegar in 9x11-inch cake pan or plastic storage container. Add meat strips to container, making sure vinegar covers all strips; Let soak 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure distribution of vinegar on strips. Combine all marinade ingredients and place in a 1-gallon re-sealable plastic bag. Add lean meat slices to bag; seal bag and massage pieces to thoroughly distribute marinade over all meat strips. Refrigerate bag 1 to 24 hours.
Remove meat slices from bag, and place flat, without touching each other, on clean dehydrator trays, oven racks or other drying trays. Place trays in pre-heated dehydrator and dry at 145ºF for 10 to 14 hours, or until slices are adequately dry.
Use a calibrated thermometer to monitor the circulating air temperature of the dehydrator or oven. Pre-heat the dehydrator or oven to 145°F for 15 to 30 minutes. Using clean tongs, arrange the meat strips in single layers on the drying trays without touching each other. Place the filled trays in the preheated dehydrator, leaving enough open space on the racks for air to circulate around the strips. Let the strips dry for 10 to 14 hours, or until the pieces are adequately dry.
Test for dryness.
Properly dried jerky is chewy and leathery. It will be as brittle as a green stick, but won’t snap like a dry stick. To test for dryness, remove a strip of jerky from the oven or dehydrator. Let cool slightly, then bend the jerky; it should crack, but not break when bent.
When jerky is sufficiently dry, remove the strips from the drying racks to a clean surface. Pat off any beads of oil with absorbent paper toweling and let cool.
Place cooled jerky strips in an airtight plastic food bag or jar with a tight fitting lid. Pack jerky with the least possible amount of air trapped in the container. Too much air causes off-flavors and rancidity to develop. Label and date packages. Store containers of jerky in a cool, dry, dark place or the refrigerator or freezer. Properly dried jerky will keep for approximately two weeks in a sealed container at room temperature. It will keep for 3 to 6 months in the refrigerator and up to one year in the freezer. Check occasionally to be sure no mold is forming.
The recipe is open to your own thoughts, the key is just something that will impart the beef with your desired flavor.
I have used the procedure for venison, caribou, and duck breasts.