Dec 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm #1283521
So, I bought some nice buffalo meat, sliced it nice and thin, put it in a store-bought marinade for a day and a half in a ziploc, unboxed my dehydrator (Nesco 75 something or other), and actually read some of the directions in the dehydrator book. Shoot. Okay, questions.
1. In the jerky section, it says to freeze game meats for 30 days prior to drying. I assume this does not pertain to my store-bought buffalo?
2. The book says when marinating, to be sure to use a curing spice combo that includes salt and sodium nitrite to prevent bacterial growth during initial stages of drying. I just used the marinade itself, which had salt, but doesn't mention sodium nitrite. Am I gonna die? Am I gonna get so sick I wish I were dead? Or am I fine, no worries?
3. Am I really supposed to open the dehydrator several times and pat the meat with paper towels? Won't that also remove the marinade slathered all over it (or was I supposed to rinse that off?).
Any and all assistance is appreciated. Even if I just bolo'd this batch, it sure does smell nice while drying!Dec 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm #1817688
Honestly I follow the Alton Brown method – and I store the jerky in the freezer after drying. Look up his way and you'll see you have no worries. But…..don't expect a shelf life of store bought jerky. Not that it will sit that long!!Dec 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm #1817693
Thanks Sarah!Dec 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm #1817723
I don't use sodium nitrate but I do freeze my jerky until our trip. I find it does great for 2 to 4 weeks out of the freezer. That said, there is a decent amount of salt (sometimes in the form of soy sauce) in my marinades. The only time you need nitrates is if you are using ground meat and I would never suggest ground meat for jerky as it is more susceptible to bacteria.
I also freeze the meat before slicing it and then let it partially thaw. This makes it easier to slice uniformly.
Your end product will only be as good as the ingredients you started with. I recommend using high quality beef. A leaner cut such as flank (skirt) is usually better.Dec 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm #1817731
I'm using some pretty high quality buffalo, no ground meat for me. And there is a decent amount of salt in the marinade I'm using.
I feel much better thanks to you and Sarah. I've already tried a piece or two (after 3 hours, probably not done yet, but gosh it's tasty!).Dec 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1817744
Bison is good eating. And so much leaner than beef!Dec 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm #1817755
I love emu and venison for jerky too. Bison I get from time to time. These meats seem to add a richness.Dec 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm #1817758
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Try eland meat. It is beef-like, but very lean.
–B.G.–Dec 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm #1817783
So why do you freeze game meats 30 days before making jerky? I've never done that with mine, and I'm still alive. And the only time I've used a cure (nitrates) was for a buddy of mines super easy, super fast fake summer sausage (from ground beef).Dec 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm #1817792
@kwersalLocale: Western Colorado
If you're doing Paleo, next time skip the store bought marinades– all the ones I've seen are full of sugars and mystery ingredients. You can google up numerous Paleo-friendly marinade recipes. I just made a batch last week with a home-made marinade, using a London Broil. Turned out pretty decent, I little more strongly flavored than I would have preferred. I will keep experimenting with different recipes, and maybe a shorter time marinating. I do keep it in the freezer to be on the safe side.Dec 31, 2011 at 7:03 am #1817866
The only reason I can think of with game meats is to kill pathogens??Dec 31, 2011 at 9:35 am #1817913
"The only reason I can think of with game meats is to kill pathogens??"
That's what the book says. I didn't do it though. In fact, I rarely follow directions anyway……
And thanks for all the tips and suggestions on different meats everyone!Jan 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm #1818513
<del></del>Jan 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm #1819372
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
Check out http://www.heatherlovespaleo.com, and go to her Lunch link. I didn't care for her Chicken jerky recipe (bland, bland, bland), but have done well with the turkey burger jerky–added some mustard powder, too. She pre-cooks her ground turky jerky until it turns white, then dehydrates it–have done well with this method, never had a problem.
My question is, where are people finding the unusual meats? I can get ground bison for an exorbitant price, but other meats, not easy.Jan 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm #1819384
"So how is the jerky? Are you hooked?"
The jerky was only okay, I need a different marinade. But oh yeah, I'm hooked! ;-)Jan 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm #1819390
Your store bought bison won't require freezing prior to drying. Salt in the marinade will work just fine, no need for sodium nitrate in this case. If you soaked it in the marinade dabbing it with a paper towel will not hurt the flavor, only remove any fat.Jan 3, 2012 at 9:01 pm #1819444
Diane….I have actually found Bison growers while out driving! There are a couple around Wa state and some even do other animals….anyhow, there was one in Skagit County, one out on the Teanaways. You gotta take those back roads ;-)
And way cheaper than buying in store!!Jan 4, 2012 at 4:19 am #1819506
@nihilist_voyagerLocale: Down the Rabbit Hole!
Save some trees friend, and put that paper towel away next time you make your jerky. Little bits of fat on the ends of your jerky dry out nice and fine, they have a similar(ish) texture to the dried meat and are sopping with your tasty marinade! I may be in the deep south but I'll tell you what, that fat tastes mighty good! Plus, if you're actually taking it backpacking, that's like a solid hunk of quick energy. Fat is good!! If you're just making jerky for fun, then yes, it's definitely healthier to sop up that fat, but that's good stuff when out on long trips.
I don't know how it effects shelf life. Probably negatively, but as previously mentioned, good jerky won't sit there long anyway.
Also, increase you jerky's unfrozen life with a couple silica packets (like you find in the corporate jerky), they soak up moisture to prevent aging and bacteria growth on those fine pieces of meat we all love. Freeze till the big day, toss a packet in while they thaw to deal with those moisture issues, and if you don't eat it all before you get to the trailhead, switch out the packet after they've thawed to deal with any problems while you're out.Jan 4, 2012 at 5:45 am #1819522
Diane… I'm lucky that I live in the province of Ontario. I'm in the Southern part so there are lots of opportunities for purchasing such things.
I can buy fresh rabbit at the grocery store. I am able to get elk, ostrich and emu in a nearby city at their Farmers Market. From the stands I can buy direct from the farmer. Kangaroo, deer and organics are bought at a place called Dearsley's which is just about 20 minutes down the road. What they have depends entirely on chance… except for the organic beef and organic Mennonite pork. Witteveens sells bison and it is only a tiny bit more expensive than good quality beef and about the same price as organic beef. There is also another shop that sells things like elk, deer and caribou and it is about 1 hour and 1/2 from here. We only stop there if we are heading back from that section of the Bruce Trail for a hike.
It's not as easy as going to the grocery store but it can be worth the effort. To put it in perspective, here is a blog post someone made about Dearsley's Crackers Field Trip
You might try google for your area. Search for a particular meat or an Eat Local type of website that lists these kinds of things.Jan 4, 2012 at 6:28 am #1819542
Bison SHOULD be more money than beef. Even considerably more. Why? Because of supply and demand. Since Bison are raised differently than beef – they take longer to mature for one – and they cannot use the same antibiotics, etc…it takes longer to get to market. In the US the demand for the leaner meat is very high, hence why ground Bison is $8 to 9 a lb versus $5 to 6 for a lean all natural or organic beef.
In a couple years the ramped up supply of Bison will lower prices though – but the ranchers have to get them ready first.Jan 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm #1824062
Here is another vote for london broil. I have made a fair bit of jerky over the years and recently did a three meat three marinade test in order to work out for our tastes which cut is superior. I pitted humble (and humbly priced) london broil against chuck steak and skirt. We were amazed that skirt was dry and tasteless as compared to london broil in all three marinades. The chuck steak fell in the middle but not worth the price.
Our favorite recipe (Spicy Beer) so far can be found here: http://thefoodaddicts.com/foodbuzz-24×24-homemade-beef-jerky/ One suggestion I have is switch out the pathetically tasteless light lager with a proper beer that tastes like beer. A nice stout or porter is a fine choice. My recommendation is Old Rasputin http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/112/412Jan 13, 2012 at 7:51 am #1824208
<del></del>Jan 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm #1824776
Great thread. I just made some jerky for the first time out of top sirloin (its dehydrating right now). How thick do you usually slice/cut the meat for dehydrating?Jan 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm #1824811
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I am thinking about moving away from pre-packaged backpacking foods. Any recommendations on one of these appliances?Jan 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm #1824829
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Nick, some of the ladies are more expert on dehydrators, and they may chime in here. The typical recommendation is for a Nesco FD-75 or one of its close cousins. Many of those can be purchased for $50-$75.
I use an ancient Snackmaster, maybe thirty years old. It has its fan and heater underneath the stack of food trays. I do an overhaul on it every 10-15 years. You know, new plugs and points.
If you are mostly interested in meat jerky, your best bet is to slice it cross-grain as thinly as possible. If you slice it too thickly, the outside surfaces will dry to the point of being crispy, and the center may still be underdone.
There are many types of dehydrated food which are cheap and easy to buy. However, there are many other types which are not, so that is what I do at home.
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