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Make delicious jerky this hunting season with these delicious recipes

MILWAUKEE -- Hunting season means many of Wisconsinites will have an influx of fresh meat. And whether it's game or something you just bought from the store, you can turn it all into tasty jerky! Food science expert, Christina Ward, shows us how.

'The best cut for making jerky is the eye of round. Though other, less fatty cuts will work, they may yield a lower-quality jerky.

A half-frozen piece of meat is much easier to slice than raw. Try freezing your eye of round for a few hours prior to slicing.

Beef Jerky (Or Venison, whole muscle jerky)

Total Preparation Time: 4 hours over 3 days

Keeps: 4 weeks in airtight container / 1 year in freezer

Yield:  3 pounds (increases if you begin with more meat)

Note: The recipe calculations are based on 3 pounds of meat. Rarely will you make only 3 pounds of jerky. Calculate the weight of your meat after trimming and increase the marinade recipe keeping all ingredients in ratio.  The amount of salt, whether it is in the form of salt crystals or soy sauce, is critical to the curing—the reduction of the water activity.

The best cut for making jerky is the eye of round. Though other, less fatty cuts will work, they may yield a lower-quality jerky.

A half-frozen piece of meat is much easier to slice than raw. Try freezing your eye of round for a few hours prior to slicing.

Instructions: 

  1. Select a large eye of round cut of red meat.
  2. Remove from packaging. Place in heavy-duty freezer bag and freeze for 2 hours.
  3. Remove from freezer. Trim exterior fat and silver skin and any other tough connective tissues. (If left on, these will become tough and stringy.)
  4. Slice into ¼-thick or less pieces. Place in bowl and set aside in refrigerator.
  5. In large, lidded, plastic or glass container, mix your chosen marinade.
  6. Place meat slices into marinade. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. (Do not exceed 48 hours as the salt will fully break down the tissues.)
  7. If using a dehydrator, place strips on rack. If using oven, line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper, then place drying racks on top of that. Lay the meat strips on the rack. (Regardless of oven or dehydrator, leave room between meat to allow airflow.)
  8. Set dehydrator to 160-165 degrees. If using oven, set at 170 degrees. (If you have a convection oven, use that setting to increase the airflow.) Dehydration time will vary. Begin checking for doneness* after 4 hours, though complete dehydration may take up to 8 hours.
  9. Remove from oven or dehydrator. Cool completely. Store in airtight zip-style bag, vacuum-sealed canning jar, or in freezer for longer storage.

*Test for doneness: Jerky should appear glossy and be bendable without breaking. The longer the meat is dried, the less moisture is present and the longer it can be stored without additional preservation.

Vegetable Jerky

Total Preparation Time: 4 hours

Keeps: 6 weeks in airtight container / 1 year in freezer

Yield: Approximately 2 pounds or 12 strips

Note: The recipe calculations are based on 3 pounds of pureed vegetables. Calculate the weight of your vegetables after trimming and food processing.  You can make larger batches just increase the amount of flavor components by ratio. The amount of salt, whether it is in the form of salt crystals or soy sauce, is critical to the reduction of water activity.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound of red or golden beet, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound of carrot (any type), peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound of mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
  • ½ pound of white or yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup steel cut oats. Optional, but final jerky will have a ‘tougher’ bite without oatmeal.

Instructions: 

  1. Wash and prepare vegetables.
  2. In a food processor, puree all vegetables, garlic, and oil.  Add rolled oats; puree. Transfer to a large bowl. (You can do this in batches if making a large amount.)
  3. Mix in flavoring cure of your choice.
  4. Cover with flour cloth towel and rest for one hour.
  5. Line jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Scoop out 3 to 4 Tablespoons in a row to form a long rectangular line. Shape into strip. Repeat until pan is filled, leaving a ½ inch space between each strip. (If using a dehydrator, use the same procedure but line dehydrator tray with ‘fruit leather’ pad.)
  6. Set oven to 155 degrees**; use the convection setting if available. (If using dehydrator set temperature to 160 degrees.)  Dehydration time will vary. Begin checking for doneness* after 1 hour, though complete dehydration may take up to 4 hours.
  7. Remove from oven or dehydrator. Cool completely. Store in airtight zip-style bag, vacuum-sealed canning jar, or in freezer for longer storage.

*Test for doneness:  Jerky should appear glossy and be bendable.

**The lowest temperature on many modern ovens in 170 degrees; if that’s as low as yours goes, it’s okay. Just check your jerky more often.

Jerky Flavor Marinades

These recipes are the amounts needed to flavor 3 pounds meat and vegetable puree.

Basic Jerky

  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Western Barbeque Jerky

  • 1 teaspoon 100% pure salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Can increase for ‘heat’.)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoon mustard powder

Hot & Tangy Jerky

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (Can substitute tamari sauce or vegetarian Worcestershire sauce.)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Mole Jerky

  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoon 100% pure salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

Jerk Jerky

  • 1 Tablespoon 100% pure salt
  • 3 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 minced habañero peppers (Substitute your favorite hot pepper. These can be added when pureeing vegetables. Use all proper safety when working with hot peppers.)
  • 2 Tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg