Introduction to Jerky Making

Drying and curing meat is one of the oldest ways to preserve and prepare food.  That means jerky has been around for thousands of years!  Made from low-fat content pieces of meat, jerky is processed, seasoned, cured, and then cooked or dried, and it's easy to make your own.  Let's start your journey with Walton's introduction to jerky making.

Walton's 10" Slicer

If you're making whole-muscle jerky, you will want to cut all your meat to a uniform thickness so it cooks and dries evenly. While you can try to cut it by hand and get pretty close, there is no substitute for accuracy. We recommend the Walton's 10" slicer for its extra-large carriage and blade, which can handle big cuts of whole-muscle meat.

All-Around Jerky Maker

If you're making restructured jerky using ground meat, the All-Around Jerky Maker is an excellent addition to your arsenal.  It easily attaches to your existing meat grinder or sausage stuffer, extruding same-size pieces that will cook and dehydrate evenly for a better-finished product.  This system forms two flat strips or three round sticks of ground jerky at once on a roll of wax paper that unrolls as the jerky comes out of the maker to make the process easier than ever.

Walton's 2K Sq. Inch Digital 12 Tray Dehydrator

When thermal processing your homemade jerky, we recommend using a smoker that allows you to control relative humidity throughout the cook.  The truth is that many people don't have a smokehouse available with those capabilities.  For that reason, we recommend starting your jerky in the oven and finishing it in Walton's 2K Sq. Inch Digital 12 Tray Dehydrator.  This unit gets up to 194° F for more complete and efficient processing.

Seasoning

Walton's has seasonings to match any taste.  Whether you're looking for savory and bold, something sweeter, or even some heat, we have options for whatever you're craving.  Be bold and stock up with all those flavors that tickle your fancy!  Most seasonings come with a 2-year best if used by date.  This does not mean that any remaining seasoning must be thrown out on that date, but it does mean that it has reached the end of its peak efficiency and should either be used shortly or discarded.  It's also best practice to vacuum seal unused seasonings to maintain freshness.

·        For the classic jerky fan, try Walton’s Bold, a custom blend that calls to mind the signature flavor of beef jerky that we all know and love.

·        For fans of spicy food, check out Gigawatt Hot, our spiciest seasoning option that is still loaded with flavor.

·        If you like a traditional barbecue flavor, try the BBQ Jerky option, perfectly balanced to offer a blend of sweet and savory with a hint of spice.

·        Finally, for the flavor adventurer, try something new with Dill Pickle, a unique experience that is sure to be unlike any jerky you’ve had before.

Sure Cure

Sure Cure is a mix of salt and nitrites used to cure meat for products like jerky and snack sticks before they are smoked, ensuring it is safe for consumption.  Its primary purpose is to stop the growth of botulism spores, one of the leading causes of food poisoning.  Products like jerky are cooked in a moist, hot environment, but not hot enough to kill these spores.  Sure Cure also preserves the smoke and spice flavor in a cured product.  When you use Sure Cure, you need to hold your product overnight to allow the cure to work unless you use a cure accelerator.

Meat Block

Eye of the Round

Eye of the round is a smaller muscle in the hindquarter of beef that is usually very tough.  It can have a larger grain, but it works well to cut into strips for making jerky, as long as you cut across the grain. If it has a fat cap, it must be trimmed before making jerky. Since this is a round cut, it is a good idea to cut it again to form the classic jerky shape after slicing it into thin pieces.

 

Flank Steak

Flank steak comes from the abdominal region of the cow and is extremely low in fat.  The muscle is heavily used during the cow's life, so it is a tougher cut, and it will usually be a little less expensive at your butcher.  It rarely has a fat cap on it, so you should not have to do much trimming with flank steak.  After slicing this, you can cut it width-wise again to form a more classic jerky shape.

 

Silver Tip

Silver tip is taken from the shoulder of the beef and has a very fine grain.  Because it is a heavily used muscle, it can be fairly tough, which is good for making jerky as it makes it very lean and less expensive.  Overall, this is an excellent cut for making whole-muscle jerky.

 

Ground Beef

If you want to make restructured jerky, you will need some ground beef.  Store-bought ground beef is usually around an 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio, which is higher than we would like.  Your best bet is to grind a leaner cut yourself at home through a 1/8" plate.  If you don't have a way to do this, look for 93/7 ground beef and make sure it is freshly ground.

Recipes

·        Whole-Muscle Jerky

o    Whole muscle jerky is jerky that has been sliced into strips between 1/8" and 1/4" inch and then coated on all sides with a mixture of the seasoning and the cure.  Once that is done, it is placed in a plastic bag with just enough water to cover all the strips and held in a refrigerator for 12 hours, then cooked and/or dehydrated.  The advantages of this type of jerky are that it is easy to do and you need minimal equipment.

·        Restructured Jerky

o    This form of jerky has been ground up, seasoned, cured, and extruded into strips or sticks.  The jerky is then cooked and/or dehydrated to form the classic jerky structure.  The advantage of this type of jerky is that you can control what form the jerky takes and that you can use more of the animal as you don't need to start with a whole muscle cut of meat.

·        Kippered Beef

o    Kippered beef has more water activity present than traditional jerky.  It is also usually julienned into strips.  The result is a tender, more moisturized meat snack.

16th May 2024 Chase Marzolf

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