Drying or dehydrating stabilizes the product to prevent growth of micro-organisms. However, heat treatment with the appropriate humidity is required to kill or reduce the micro-organisms that may be currently present. All jerky must be heat treated (cooked) to ensure it is safe to consume. Simply dehydrating is not enough.
Muscle Selection: For whole muscle jerky, select lean muscles usually from the hip cuts. Trim all external fat, connective tissue, and silver skin from the muscle to ensure there are no undesirable characteristics after the cooking and drying process. Excess fat will create a greasy feel and may turn rancid, and the connective tissue/silver skin will dry out and be unpalatable.
Slicing: To achieve a long chewy strand that can be peeled and holds together during processing, slice whole muscles with the grain. To achieve a tender texture, slice across the grain. Muscles sliced across the grain may separate during processing. Pull each piece evenly through the slicer to ensure even thickness. Be cautious and ensure all fingers, hands, etc. remain a safe distance from the blade to prevent injury.
Brining: Prepare all ingredients as per the recipe and thoroughly mix in the water. Pour the mixture over the meat and gently separate the slices to ensure all surfaces are covered. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Mix lightly again after a few hours.
Racking: Lay all pieces flat on a perforated rack. Make sure to leave 1cm of space around each piece to allow air flow. Make sure pieces do not overlap.
Smoking/Cooking: Place in smokehouse at desired cooking and smoking temperatures- Ensure product reaches a minimum internal temperature of 71°C
Storing: All jerky must be stored ≤4°C unless it has been verified for shelf stability with a water activity meter. Product made in non-commercial kitchens/ovens should not be considered as shelf stable.
Ensure that the meat is maintained ≤4°C- preferably around 2°C.