Venison jerky tips

How to safely make venison jerky.

Venison jerky is a popular way to use venison in Michigan. It’s fairly easy to make, light to carry and it tastes good! Always follow safe food handling practices when handling venison or other meat products. Because venison is moist and high in protein, harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly.

To make sure your venison jerky doesn’t cause a foodborne illness, the meat should be treated to kill the trichinella parasite. To treat the meat for trichinella parasite, freeze a portion that is six inches (or less) thick at zero degree or below for at least 30 days before preparing the jerky.

Jerky should also be heat treated. Because the freezing step to kill the trichinella parasite will not kill bacteria that may be present, Michigan State University Extension recommends heating jerky to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the possibility of foodborne illness

There are two ways to heat treat jerky. The first method involves heat treating the meat before drying. After marinating the meat safely in the refrigerator, heat the meat at the end of the marinating time. To heat, bring strips and marinade to a boil and boil for five minutes before draining and drying. If strips are more than one-quarter inch thick, the length of time may need to be increased. If possible, check the temperature of several strips with a metal stem-type thermometer to determine that 160 degrees Fahrenheit has been reached.

To heat treat the jerky after drying, heat in an oven (after drying) as an added safety measure. Place strips on a baking sheet, close together, but not touching or overlapping. For strips originally cut one-quarter inch thick or less then heat 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Thicker strips may require longer heating to reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

The following marinade recipe is from the National Home Food Preservation Center; a reliable source of food preservation instructions and recipes for canning, freezing, drying and other food preservation methods.

Jerky Marinade

  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds of lean meat (beef, pork or venison)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of black pepper and garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon hickory smoke-flavored salt

Combine all ingredients. Place strips of meat in a shallow pan and cover with marinade. Cover and refrigerate one to two hours or overnight. Products marinated for several hours may be more salty than some people prefer.

Remove meat strips from the marinade and drain on clean, absorbent towels. Arrange strips on dehydrator trays or cake racks placed on baking sheets for oven drying. Place the slices close together, but not touching or overlapping. Place the racks in a dehydrator or oven preheated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry until a test piece cracks but does not break when it is bent (10 to 24 hours for samples not heated in marinade). Samples heated in marinade will dry faster. Begin checking samples after three hours. Once drying is completed, pat off any beads of oil with clean, absorbent towels and cool. Remove strips from the racks; let cool. Package the jerky in glass jars or heavy plastic food storage bags.

Properly dried jerky will keep at room temperature two weeks in a sealed container. For best results, to increase shelf life and maintain best flavor and quality, refrigerate or freeze jerky.

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