One of our goals at JerkyFAQ.com is to provide information for home jerky makers, both beginners and those advanced in the art (and science) of making jerky at home. We hope that to offer a multitude of diverse recipes to get folks started, as well as offering more advanced recipes for those who like to experiment and further develop their skills. We will also share our insights into home jerky making and offer techniques to enhance the process for those of you who seek to expedite or streamline the jerky making process. While many associate jerky making with meat, there are plenty of other foods out there ready for drying and the Jerky FAQ will also highlight other methodologies and products that can be utilized by those making jerky at home. The sections in the left hand bar will get you started. Each link will take you to an area with recipes for a particular type and/or style of jerky. We are currently developing more areas as well as adding new recipes so come back again and discover even more recipes for beef jerky, venison jerky, turkey jerky, and more.
Tips for making Jerky at Home
- Know your food and your craft. Any meat may contain pathogens and food safety is a critical aspect of making jerky at home. Familiarize yourself with the USDA Fact Sheet before embarking on your jerky making journey. Ensure your hands and all items that will come into contact with your jerky are clean and sanitary.
- Choose lean cuts and trim your meat well as part of your preparation. Remove any tough parts such as tendon, gristle, and connective tissue. Be sure to trim all fat as well, as fat can make your jerky go rancid quickly. Starting with a nicely shaped and trimmed piece of meat will make cutting it a breeze.
- Partially freeze your meat prior to cutting it (or fully freeze it first and then let partially thaw if you are using wild game as game is more likely to harbor parasites than commercially raised meat). The meat should be firm so it will cut evenly without moving around as you apply pressure to it during processing, which will make it much easier to achieve uniformity in your slices.
- Cut your meat with the grain or your jerky may fall apart when dry.
- Cut your meat (or whatever your are making into jerky) into uniform strips no more that 1/4 of an inch thick. Keep your strips of reasonable length and width as well. Remember, the thicker the meat, the longer it will take to marinate and dry and if your strips are too thin, they will end up crispy.
- Keep your meat refrigerated while marinating. You don’t want your meat in an environment conducive to bacterial contamination prior to dehydration.
- Keep turning and moving the meat during the marinating period. Even exposure to the marinade is important for both flavor and tenderizing the meat.
- If you have access to a convection oven, use it (most ovens these days are). Your meat will give off a lot of moisture and even heating will make a better product. Remember, low heat and proper air circulation are critical to making jerky properly.
- Make sure your jerky has thoroughly cooled prior to storing. Airtight containers make the best storage medium as moisture and jerky do not mix.
Why you should not use iodized salt with jerky marinade
You may notice that jerky marinade recipes call for non-iodized salt in their ingredients list. The reasoning is that iodized salt contains iodide and other anti-caking agents that can contribute metallic and other off flavors to the finished jerky. Look for a non-iodized salt, such as ‘canning salt’ when making your jerky marinade to avoid any weird flavors.