Aug 10, 2010 at 11:21 pm #1262135
Just got a food dehydrator for the first time, and interested in making some beef jerky. I bought some extra lean ground beef and am going to whip up a batch tomorrow morning.
I've got the included spice mix, but before I use the packaged mix, does anyone have good beef jerky recipes that perhaps have less sodium? Or any tips for making jerky?
BobAug 11, 2010 at 8:41 am #1636722
Bob….we use the recipe that Alton Brown used on his episode of Good Eats: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/beef-jerky-recipe/index.html
We used lower sodium soy sauce to at least control it a bit. Salt does preserve the meat though so in the case of jerky you still want some added. But yeah….toss that mix that came with it!Aug 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm #1636783
Thanks, will check out the recipe.
I guess I am wondering what is the minimum amount of salt that is needed for preserving the jerky? If you are going to eat it within a week is just drying at 160F for a few hours enough?
I am trying to research the science of jerky, and how/what/when are the minimum safety standards, and how much of the salt is for flavour, and how much is needed for preserving, and if/when sodium nitrate is needed.
Been googling like crazy.
BobAug 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm #1636833
If you use ground meat you really should use the nitrates…..but if using flank or similar that you cut at home, the salt in the soy sauce for example is plenty. No need to use nitrates on the good stuff :-)
We get a big chunk of meat at Costco when we do it!Aug 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm #1636888
Ground beef needs nitrates because bacteria like e-coli live on the surface of meat….grind it…you have spread it all over every surface inside and out. Thats why it is always mentioned in the press for hamburger contamination; you hardly ever hear of someone getting sick from eating even rare cooked steak.
If you want softer jerky(I'm not sure why you want ground;often its because it eats softer) you can shread conventional whole muscle cut jerky and eat it that way…or…make it more like biltong; which is typically softer than jerky and diced up into cubes(like sugar cube size).Done after drying typical starting size is 1/2"x1/2" strip; for a lower sodium requirement.
This is a good site for all things jerky and biltong;
If that link doesn't work search; 3 Men With Nothing Better To Do
You can find biltong under the "mixed grill" section.Its typically made from game meat in Southern Africa; but beef is OK.Venison or elk is outstanding because of the super lean meat.
The more fat and marbling you avoid….the less salt you will need. They trap moisture and moisture is what breeds bacteria. I use VERY lean cuts (and mostly game meat) and use 1/2 the salt called for on typical recipes. Also by cutting thinner you avoid holding moisture and also can cut the salt required for curing.
Good bulk spices(cheap and high quality) and additional info can be found here;
I also recommend the book by the Sausage Makers founder Rytek Kutas(Great Sausage Recipes and Curing) if you require additional info on sodium nitrates and the type and use of this class of preservatives.
Thin+Lean+Good Airflow=Low SaltAug 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm #1636889
Franco DarioliBPL Member
Yes, lean meat is the secret here. Fat goes rancid so it needs loads of preservatives (nitrates,salt)Avoid.
Spices are good for preserving. So if you like the taste add cinnamon and or cloves in particular. Garlic works well too.
Curry powder is also good here. (that also can have cinnamon,cloves,garlic ,ginger and turmeric)
Oddly pork can be very lean, that is have very low fat content. (loins/tenderloins)
FrancoAug 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm #1636894
Pork is not used for jerky (nor bear) because the muscle can contain Trichinosis which unlike a bacteria which lives ON the meat….it is a parasite IN the meat.
Killing can only be caused by proper curing(with nitrates/nitrites) in cured sausages with a proper heat cycle. Or in whole cuts by cooking.
I HIGHLY recommend you do NOT try this as a home cure with out some experience and knowledge of the factors involved.JMHO
Best part of beef whole muscle cuts for jerky?
They are cheap;
Because fat(marbled)=tender(Steaks) and super lean=not as much demand.
London Broil is an inexpensive and good choice for jerking.Super lean by nature and easy to read the grain for experimenting on what type of texture you get with different slices.
Have fun and make small batches. Watch temperature but relative humidity is more important. I make mine only on dry days which we have few in summer and most in winter. I vacuume pack for later use by tossing in the freezer to maximize longevity and freshness.Aug 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm #1636935
Franco DarioliBPL Member
Sorry, I was thinking of drying meat (to add to a meal) rather than making jerky…
Possibly the reference to ground meat caused that shift.
FrancoAug 12, 2010 at 7:12 am #1636974
Still good observations Franco about the fat; no need to be sorry.
Even precooking and dehydrating for meals, fat is an issue for preservation.
In the past salt curing and storage were staples for preservation.But the approach on end use differs from us today.
Meats were soaked to reconstitute them and to remove the salt. The notion of jerky as a ready to eat snack,although most likely done on the trail,is more a "modern" one. This has come with the understanding of the role of bacteria and preservation.
To the original OP….don't let any of this discourage you with the talk of bacteria,Trichinosis and such.
I have been doing this for many years as I raise beef,pigs,chickens;and dry alot of game meat from hunting. I have never had anyone get sick nor myself from drying meats using some common sense….and very little salt.LOL
Oh and +1 on the Alton Brown recipes and type of drying he uses with a fan;good stuff.Aug 12, 2010 at 8:40 am #1637000
That Alton Brown recipe is very good – and we have used our dehydrator as well to dry it, turns out great!
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