Top 15 Safety Tips for Making Jerky at Home
When people think of jerky, they no longer imagine dry and tasteless meats. Jerky has gone through significant changes as a good, becoming a healthy and delicious snack people can enjoy wherever they go. Making this popular food is doable (and easy) with the right ingredients and tools. If you’re interested in making some jerky for yourself, there are some things you should know about handling it before you start making it. Here are the top 15 safety tips for making jerky at home (these tips work for all jerky recipes.)
Choosing Your Meat
The first step in making your own jerky starts with choosing the meat you want. There are plenty of meats you can choose from, such as classic ground beef or delicious turkey. Feel free to choose any meat you want as long as it follows the safety precautions below.
Your meat should be lean. It doesn’t matter what kind of meat you choose for your jerky, but it must be as lean as possible. This will help you greatly with the end product; fat in jerky causes all kinds of problems. Even if you’re using ground meat, make sure your cut is lean.
Other than fat content, there are a few other things you should worry about when choosing your meat. Choose sections that are less than six inches, even if you want more. It’s better to choose several cuts of meat instead of one giant piece when making jerky. Additionally, it’s beneficial to choose healthy meats, like grass-fed beef. Your end product will be healthier because of it.
Wild Game or Bought
Another thing you must consider when choosing your meat is whether you’re hunting it or buying it. There’s nothing wrong with either method, but wild game does have an extra layer of unpredictability to it. Meat that comes from wild game may be unsanitary or dangerous if the kill was messy. If you have meat that may be unsafe, don’t use it as jerky meat—it won’t get hot enough for sanitization.
After you’re done choosing your meat, there are still a few safety precautions you need before cooking it. Below are steps covering what you should do before making you jerky.
Jerky is a safe food that doesn’t need cold storage once you make it. However, before you dehydrate and cook it, you shouldn’t let it sit around at room temperature. Store it someplace cold, such as in the refrigerator or freezer.
Freezing for Treatment
Heating food gets rid of bacteria and diseases—and so does freezing it. If you’re using wild game or poultry, it’s best if you can store and freeze your meat for at least 30 days before you turn it into jerky. This will kill some of the more dangerous diseases.
Never store raw meat directly next to anything cooked. If meat is stored this way, it will contaminate the food that’s already cooked and ruin it. This is extremely dangerous; anyone who eats cross-contaminated food can become seriously sick. Make sure you isolate your meat and store it away from other food.
Handling the Meat
The next part of the top 15 safety tips for making jerky at home cover how you should handle the meat when you’re starting to cook and prepare it.
Sterilize Your Working Area
Before you start making your jerky, sterilize the area you’re going to work in. Clean all the utensils and cutting boards before you cook anything. This helps prevent the spread of germs from the last cooking session and keeps your area clean.
Cutting the Meat
Make sure your meat is slightly frozen when you begin to work with it. Since it will be firmer, it will be easier to cut, which will save you time and energy. How you cut the meat is up to personal preference, but make sure your cuts are less than a quarter-inch, so your cooking times are consistent and meet expectations.
Cooking the Meat
The next tips are all about what you should do when heating and drying the meat. This is one of the longest steps; drying the meat can take hours depending on your cut and equipment.
Marinating your jerky all depends on your personal preference. This is where jerky gets its flavor, so choose your favorite recipe and let it sit in the marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator. You can choose to marinate before or after you heat the meat for treatment—but once you make your choice, stick to it to avoid cross-contamination.
Heat To 160
Heat the meat before you dry it; this is vital for your safety. A lot of diseases and bacteria can live on meat and drying it won’t kill it all off. However, cooking your meat before drying will kill off most of the bacteria (if not all of it.) After you've done that, throw the meat on a stove until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drying at 140 degrees
Once you are done heating the meat, take it off the stove and start up your dehydrator or oven. Your oven should sit at 140 degrees during the whole process. A dehydrator will have its own instructions. When you are doing this—and whether you choose an oven or a dehydrator—take care that your pieces of jerky don’t overlap with one another.
This is less of a safety tip and rather good advice: pick a piece of jerky as a sample piece and put it in with the rest of the jerky as it dries. You can then test this piece of jerky during the dehydrating process. This is a great way to determine your preferred texture, as well as when your jerky is dry.
These are all the best tips we can give you for making your own jerky at home. If you want to trust someone who already knows all these tips and more, buy the jerky from someone like us. With amazing marinate recipes and a variety of meats, you can buy turkey jerky online along with any other meat or flavor you want. Visit Lee’s Market Jerky today.