JERKY: A definition would be meat that has been dried to a very low moisture content and usually does not require refrigeration.
It is a favorite food for many Americans.
In days gone by, jerky was made to preserve meat while it was plentiful, and was eaten when fresh meat was scarce.
FOR A different treat, try bacon jerky.
Today, it is often considered a snack food. Jerky is a light, compact protein source, making it a handy food for backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Beef jerky makes a good nutritional snack, but it is expensive since a pound of meat dries to about 4 ounces. Jerky can be stored in a cool, dry place in zipper-seal bags for up to three months.
However, if you see any moisture forming on the inside of the bag, either dry the jerky further by putting it back in the oven or dehydrator, or refrigerate it.
Whether in the pantry or the refrigerator, you will find jerky too tasty to stay around very long.
Here are some things you should know before making this wonderful meaty snack.
1). Jerky can be made by drying it in the sun, the oven, a dehydrator, some sort of smoking apparatus, or even the microwave (though we don't recommend it).
2). Jerky should be stored in airtight, snap-top containers or zipper-seal bags in a cool, dry place. A vacuum packer is ideal.
3). After jerky has been completely cooled and put into storage containers, check to see if moisture forms on the inside of the container or bag. If any moisture is present, the jerky must either be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, or put back in the oven, dehydrator, smoker, for additional drying time.
4). Small shiny patches of fat on finished jerky can be wiped off before storing.
5). Jerky can be stored on a pantry shelf for up to three months.
6). Jerky loses about three-quarters of its weight during the drying process.
7). Flank steak, top round, or any meat with low fat works well for making jerky.
The following directions are for making this recipe in the oven. Meat dries to jerky consistency through a combination of salt drawing the moisture from the meat cells and heat continuing the drying process.
Until modern times, salt was rubbed directly onto the meat. Current recipes, however, use soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce for their flavor and high sodium content.
4 pounds beef
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon smoke flavoring, hickory or mesquite
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Slice partially frozen beef from which all extra fat has been removed. (Thin slices about 1/8-inch thick dry faster than 1/4-inch-thick slices.)
Make marinade by mixing soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, smoke flavoring, garlic powder and cracked black pepper.
Coat slices of beef with marinade by alternately layering meat and sauce, or by mixing marinade and beef. (A glass cake pan is ideal for laying the slices flat.) The beef should be coated but need not be swimming in sauce.
Cover pan and refrigerate for 4 hours, stirring mixture occasionally.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Place beef slices in single layers on cooling racks, and place racks on baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours, then turn and continue baking for 2 additional hours.
After 4 hours, test for dryness. It is ready when meat is barely flexible.
Let cool for 1 hour, then store in airtight, snap-top containers or zipper-seal bags in cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
Candied bacon jerky
By Janice Lawandi,
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
10 strips bacon
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Use rimmed baking sheet with fitted rack, if possible. Line baking sheet with foil.
Place rack over foil, and spray rack generously with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In shallow bowl, combine brown sugar and cayenne, mixing well.
Place bacon in brown sugar mixture, pressing down to coat one side, then turning and coating other side. Shake off excess mixture, and place bacon on prepared rack.
Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning every hour. When done, bacon will be deep mahogany brown and will have shrunk quite a bit.
Cool for a minute, then move slices around every so often to ensure they don't stick to the rack as they cool completely.
By Randy, Rick and Ryan Mitchell
The Mitchell brothers - Randy, of Ham Lake, Minnesota; Rick of Antlers, Oklahoma; and Ryan of Clayton, Oklahoma - have enjoyed making deer jerky for years. Hunting season starts with the brothers gathering their hunting equipment, and ends with their families getting together to make up a supply of venison jerky to last them most of the year.
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
10 teaspoons meat tenderizer
1/2 cup liquid smoke
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 cups hot water
5 pounds venison, sliced thin
In bowl, blend brown sugar, garlic powder, lemon and red pepper, meat tenderizer, liquid smoke, Worcestershire and teriyaki sauces, and water.
Add meat. Cover and chill for 24 hours.
Remove meat from marinade. Wipe excess liquid from meat, and arrange in single layers on dehydrator trays.
Follow directions in your dehydrator manual. Jerky is done when it is barely flexible.
By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, www.HomeCooking.about.com
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid mesquite flavoring
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound turkey meat, sliced thin
Combine all ingredients except turkey slices in large zipper-seal bag. Add turkey to bag. Seal and squish to coat meat. Unseal and squeeze out all air. Reseal, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Remove turkey from marinade and gently pat off excess moisture with paper towels. Place turkey strips in single layers, with space in between, on dehydrator racks.
Dehydrate until jerky is leathery and chewy, but not crisp enough to snap when bent. See manufacturer directions for approximate cooking times.
Cool completely, then store in zipper-seal bags in refrigerator.
From Julianne, also known as The Ninj, www.YankeeKitchenNinja.com.
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into 1/4- to 1/8-inch-thick strips
In 1-gallon zipper-seal bag, combine all ingredients except chicken; mix well.
Add chicken strips. Seal bag and ensure that all meat is coated with marinade. Place bag in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Place chicken strips in single layers on dehydrator trays. Dry at 145 degrees for 5 to 7 hours, or until completely dry.
Length of drying time will vary depending on thickness of chicken strips.
Excerpted from GRIT, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from GRIT, please visit www.Grit.com or call (866) 624-9388 to subscribe. Copyright 2015 by Ogden Publications Inc.