I will say after tasting some jerky made by vacuum tumbling I will be getting a tumbler very soon. I was very impressed with the very complete flavor and texture of the meat.
Jerky Jerky: 205 Making Kippered Beef
Attend this intermediate-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!kippered beef vs meat fact trimming meat smoke schedule What’s the Difference Between Jerky & Kippered?
This will by far be the most asked question regarding this post. When asking experts around Walton’s the most common answer is the amount of water activity present. While both products are good to eat, jerky is going to be dryer. You’ll notice similar smoking schedules as well. And of course the appearance. True kippered beef is julienned into strips before thermal processing. So we just threw them on our smoke screens and gave them a few slices.Slicing & Mixing
The first thing is first we have to slice this into useable pieces. We have trimmed and partially frozen our meat to make slicing them easier. We like to get our meat into manageable fist-size pieces that can easily have the fat trimmed off.
We can now use our Walton’s slicer to get these pieces the exact thickness we want. As you can see some of the strips vary in size, this is fine as long as the thickness isn’t too different. We went for closer to 1/2 inch this time. So slice up some pieces and set them aside until slicing is finished.
Next is to mix the seasoning with the correct amount of water. We threw all our sliced meat and seasoning with the correct amount of water in our vacuum tumbler. This will help loosen the fibers of the meat and allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat making for a bolder flavor. Once under a vacuum, we let it tumble for over about an hour.Smoke Schedule
1. Drying Phase 90 Minutes at 110 degrees
2. Smoking for 30 Minutes at 140 degrees
3. Drying Phase for 15 Minutes at 145 degrees
4. Cook for 15 Minutes at 150 degrees
5. Cook 15 more Minutes at 155 degrees
6. Up Temp to 170 degrees until internal is 165 degrees
We know some of these temperature and times are hard to replicate. Here’s a video on how we faired making jerky in our oven. So please use this video for inspiration and or advice!Dragon’s Breath
Meat Processing Equipment: 208 Low Temp Oven
The awesome new seasoning we tried is Dragon’s Breath. We heard the name and knew we had to try it! While mixing the seasoning stuck in our nostrils and helped clean out or sinuses for sure. However, the seasoning wasn’t too overwhelming when it came to taste. So trust us, some heat but NOT burn your mouth hot!Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for Dragon’s Breath Seasoning
Jerky Jerky 102 - Equipment Needed To Make Jerky
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!Slicer Slicer What is the Most Important Piece of Equipment?
Whether you are making whole muscle meat or restructured you need a way to thermal process it. When we make Jerky here we are lucky enough to use our Pro Smoker 500T HVE Smokehouse but this is simply not going to be an option for most people. With some experimentation, you can get similar results with a Pro-Smoker PK-100 and controlling the dampers.Do You Need A Slicer?
When making Whole Muscle Jerky one of the most important things you can do is to cut it all to a uniform thickness as this will help cook and dry at an even rate. The slicer we use is the Walton’s 10" Slicer.Do You Need A Stuffer?
If you are going to make restructured jerky then you need some way to extrude it into strips or sticks. I would recommend a Sausage Stuffer and an All-Around Jerky Maker as this will give you the ability to make many types of sausage as well! You can get similar results Walton’s 11 lb Sausage Stuffer or a Jerky Gun though.$500 Budget for Equipment
In my opinion, I would spend the majority of my budget on a slicer the Walton’s 10" Slicer has a hefty price tag of $479 but it will cut evenly and can also be used for so much more than just jerky.Other Equipment Or Supplies A Smokehouse will give you a lot more versatility and can obviously be used for so much more than jerky. Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky Jerky: 203 Glycerin in Place of Sugar
Attend this Intermediate-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!Sliced Meat Marinating Difference in Jerky No Sugar?
A few months ago we had a suggestion on meatgistics that we try using something called vegetable glycerin instead of sugar. Let’s face it, 18% added sugar takes a relatively healthy snack like Jerky and changes it into something closer to junk food. Glycerin is a sweetener that does not interact with your body in the same way that sugar does. It doesn’t seem to spike your blood sugar levels, which would indicate that it is a better choice for everyone but especially diabetics.
So we are making two batches of jerky from some venison we had here. One is going to be done with 18% brown sugar and one is going to be done with 18% vegetable glycerin. If you are looking for some glycerin it is relatively inexpensive to purchase large bottles of it on amazon. First, we sliced the meat into slightly thicker than 1/4 pieces and cut across the grain. Then mix all of your ingredients until everything is fully suspended, you don’t want a bunch of sugar sitting at the bottom of your mixture, so this might take some time.Marinating
We then ran both of these through a vacuum tumbler to pick up as much of the solution as possible. You can use a home style tumbler like this Express tumbler or if you don’t have that you can also vacuum pack it, let it sit for about 24 hours and massage the meat occasionally. This will help loosen the fibers of the meat and it will pick up more of the solution.Smoke Schedule
Next lay everything out on a rack in your smoker. If you have the ability to control the humidity in your smoker then I will list the relative humidity levels in the post on meatgistics.com that we will link in the description below. If you don’t have a way to control the humidity then I would suggest you go get yourself a larger than normal water pan and a few automotive sponges. No, we aren’t gonna make you clean my truck before I tell you what to do next, you are going to get those sponges wet and then sit them in the water pan with half of it sticking out into the air. This is going to increase the surface area for evaporation and allow for greatly increased relative humidity in your smoker. You won’t be able to control its levels but it will increase it which is better than nothing. Don’t add this water pan until after the initial 20 minutes which is going to be our drying phase.
Stage 1 - 20 Minutes at 110° (dampers wide open)The Results
Stage 2 - 30 Minutes at 135° (begin adding smoke)
Stage 3 - 10 Minutes at 140° (dampers wide open again for drying)
Stage 4 - 30 Minutes at 150°
Stage 5 - 175° until internal temperature is 160°
The one that we did with the sugar has a glisten to it and is slightly tacky and sticky. The one that we used glycerin does not have this problem, the surface appears dry and mostly normal. Now for the tenderness, both of these are pretty tender, they have some good flexibility and a nice bite. For the taste I notice a slight after taste with the one that I used glycerin on that isn’t present on the sugar but it is certainly not something that would prevent me from using glycerin instead of jerky if I was trying to make a healthier product.
So, all in all if you are wanting to make a tender jerky that isn’t going to be processed like junk food by your body then by all means try substituting the 18% brown sugar with 18% glycerin!$500 Budget for Equipment
In my opinion, I would spend the majority of my budget on a slicer. The Walton’s 10" Slicer has a hefty price tag of $479.99 but it will cut evenly and can also be used for so much more than just jerky.Other Equipment Or Supplies A Smokehouse will give you a lot more versatility and can obviously be used for so much more than jerky. Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky Jerky 103 - Best Cuts For Jerky
Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!Hanger Steak What Are Desirable Qualities?
With Whole Muscle Jerky, you are looking for a cut with low levels of intramuscular fat. This mean cuts that do not have a lot of fat inside the muscle of the meat, when you look for a good steak you want to see some nice marbling in the meat, for Jerky you want the exact opposite. If the cut has a large fat cap on it, like an Eye of the Round then that is easily cut off.
If you are making Restructured Jerky this is a little less of a concern, just again, make sure you are removing any fat cap from the meat before grinding it.Best Cuts For Whole Muscle
Eye of the Round - Eye of the round is a smaller muscle in the hindquarter that is usually very tough. It can have a larger grain to it but it works well to cut into strips for making jerky, as long as you cut across the grain. If this has a fat cap on it, it must be trimmed before using to make jerky. Since this is a round cut after slicing into thin pieces it is a good idea to cut it again after slicing it to form a more classic jerky shape.
Flank Steak - Flank Steak comes from the abdominal region of the cow, it is low in fat about 3 oz has about 6 grams of fat. The muscle is a heavily used one during the cow’s life so it is a tougher cut so it will usually be a little less expensive at your butcher. It will rarely have a fat cap on it so you should not have much that needs to be trimmed off. 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 and has a very fine grain. Because it is a heavily used muscle it can be fairly tough, which is a good thing for making jerky as it makes it very lean and less expensive. All around this is an excellent cut for making whole muscle jerky.
Hangar Steaks - Hangar Steaks were very inexpensive until somewhat recently, Americans became aware of this tasty cut and started looking for it in more than just restaurants. The problem with that is unlike other cuts like filets and rounds there is only 1 hangar steak per animal and it is fairly small. So it can be difficult to keep enough in inventory, especially since it is a very tender steak, for this reason, the price has increased year over year and what was once a great choice for jerky is starting to price itself out of the game, which is a shame as this is an excellent cut for jerky.Restructured Jerky
If you are wanting to make a reformed Jerky you will need to have some form of ground beef. The problem is that ground beef from the store is going to usually be 80/20 lean to fat ratio and that 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.Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for Weston Dehydrator 160L Pro Series
Jerky Jerky 104 - Whole Muscle Jerky Basics
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!Slicer Laying Out Jerky Finished Jerky What Is Jerky?
Simply put Jerky is a meat product that has been processed, seasoned, cured and then cooked or dried.Meat Block
10 lb of Eye of the RoundEquipment
1 Bag of Sweet Chipotle Jerky Seasoning
1 Bag of Sure Cure (Included with purchase)
20 oz of water (Just enough to cover the meat)
The first thing we are going to do is remove all the fat that we can with a knife. Get as little meat as possible when doing this but don’t stress if some meat comes off with the fat. Since we want to have as little fast as possible in this meat, deer and other wild game are great choices for making jerky.
Then we are going to want to cut our jerky into strips between 1/4 and 3/8" thick. We are going to do this with the Weston Pro-320 slicer but it can also be done with a Precise Slice Adjustable Knife, the Weston Jerky Board, and Slicer Kit or a regular slicing knife if you have a very steady hand. Uniformity is important here as we want all of the slices to be the same thickness so they can cook at the same rate.Meat Mixing
Then mix the cure with the jerky seasoning until it is evenly distributed. Now either coat both sides of each slice of meat by sprinkling it on or drag slices through until they are coated.Holding Overnight
Place all jerky in a food safe poly bag and add enough water so that all the jerky is completely covered by water and hold for 12 hours to allow the cure to work. If you do not want to hold this overnight then you need to use a Cure Acclerator to speed up the curing process. If you use one of these you can go directly to the smoking or cooking process.Note
The next step is to smoke or cook the jerky, remember simply using a dehydrator (unless it will get to over 160°) is not recommended. Lay all strips down on smoke screens or jerky screens and set the temperature to 130° and let it cook for an hour with the dampers open to allow for some drying, if you are using an oven you can use something to prop you oven open slightly.
If your jerky is too thin to inject a probe thermometer you can fold over a piece of jerky and place a probe thermometer in between the fold to get a fairly accurate reading.Thermal Processing & Smoking
1 Hour at 130° with dampers wide openCooling
2 Hours at 145° with dampers closed 2/3rds of the way
Cook at 175° until internal temperature reaches 160°
Finally, we will hold the jerky at room temperature for 1-2 hours at room temperature before moving them to the refrigerator or the freezer before vac packing.Wrap up
Whole Muscle Jerky is a very simple thing to make, it might take some practice to perfect but the major points to focus on are to cut the muscle into even strips, use just enough water to make sure all of the meat is covered when holding it overnight and have your dampers wide open for the first hour of thermal processing to assist in drying the product.Additional Tips To increase the shelf life of your product make sure everything that will come into contact with your meat has been sanitized, we spray everything down with Hard Surface Sanitizer Other Notes
You can use snack stick or summer sausage seasoning to make whole muscle jerky if you want to try different flavors.XXXXXX Watch WaltonsTV: Whole Muscle Jerky Basics Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasoning Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Slicers Shop waltonsinc.com for Dehydrators Shop waltonsinc.com for Smoke Houses
Jerky Jerky: 202 Smoked Vs. Dehydrated Jerky
Attend this intermediate-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!Jerky in Oven Dehydrated Jerky Finished Jerky Which is Best?
There are plenty of different opinions on the best way to cook and dry jerky. Some people prefer using just an oven, some just a dehydrator and some just a smoker. Each way has its benefits but we think some are better than others depending on the equipment you have available to you.
If you have a smokehouse that is able to control the relative humidity then starting and finishing in the smoker is going to give you the most consistent and the most tender piece of jerky. The problem is that most people just don’t have that available to them, so we are also going to show a way to use an oven and a dehydrator to make tender jerky.Slicing & Mixing
The first thing is we have to slice this into useable pieces. We have trimmed and partially frozen our meat so make slicing them easier. We are cutting 1/4 inch pieces against the grain because this will make the bite and chew of the jerky better than cutting along the grain.
Now we are going to mix our seasoning with our cure and lay it out on a plate. Then, we are going to drag the pieces through this mixture making sure we coat both sides. After we have done everything we are going to place it in a bag and add JUST enough water to cover all of the meat. Then we are going to let it sit overnight to allow the seasoning and cure to fully penetrate and work in the cure. Vacuum packing will help the meat pick up a little more of the seasoning and if you can vac pack it and then massage the meat every few hours it will work even better. This is going to relax the muscle fibers and allow the solution to penetrate further and faster.
If you have a vacuum tumbler you can simply dissolve all of your seasoning, cure and any other additives in the water you will use, add it to the tumbler and tumble until the meat has picked up all of the solutions.Sugar
I am also adding 18% of the weight of the product in brown sugar and 20% of the weight in water. I am adding this sugar as it will bind with the water in the meat and make it unavailable for microbial growth, so I can have a perfectly safe jerky that is still nice and tender. To verify this you need a water activity meter though and as most people don’t have one of these you need to treat this jerky like it is not shelf-stable and refrigerate it. If you want to do this you need to make sure your brown sugar was 100% dissolved in the water, if not you are going to end up with some seriously sticky jerky. Also, a tumbler is almost essential here, I have tested vacuum packing it with the added sugar and water in the past and while it works it just won’t accept as much of the solution as it will with a tumbler.Processing
This batch I cooked in our commercial smoker with careful attention to the relative humidity. My first stage is at 110° for 20 minutes with no humidity and my dampers wide open and my fan on and no smoke, next I went for 30 minutes at 135° again with no smoke or humidity, then 140° for 10 minutes with no smoke and no humidity. Now I cooked it at 150° for 30 minutes and I closed the dampers and set the relative humidity to 50%. Then I upped the temp to 155 for 30 more minutes with 50% relative humidity. For the final stage, I cooked it 175° with a 60% RH until the internal temp was 160.$500 Budget for Equipment
In my opinion, I would spend the majority of my budget on a slicer, the Walton’s 10" Slicer has a hefty price tag of $479 but it will cut evenly and can also be used for so much more than just jerky, the Walton’s 8" is a little more affordable at $379. You would be slightly over budget but another good addition would be a Walton’s Meat Tenderizer. The Waltons 10" and Walton’s 8" are extremely well built and could be used in a semi-commercial environment.Other Equipment Or Supplies A Smokehouse will give you a lot more versatility and can obviously be used for so much more than jerky. Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky Jerky: 201 Making Brisket Jerky
Attend this Intermediate-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!Trim Fat Adding Seasoning Place on Racks Trim That Fat!
Now, we have told you in previous classes that you should use a low fat cut of meat like eye of the round to make your jerky and when you think of Brisket you probably aren’t thinking about a lean cut. Well, a brisket really has 2 parts, the point and the flat and these are separated by a thick vein of fat, if you are going to use brisket to make jerky we recommend you use the flat as it has very little intramuscular fat. Now, you do have to spend some time trimming the flat to remove as much of the fat around the outside as possible but the shape of the flat lends itself to being trimmed fairly well.Slice it Up
So, we’ve trimmed all the fat off of these and as you can see one advantage of using a brisket flat is that it has a very pronounced grain and we are going to cut against that grain. This will allow the pieces to break down easier in your mouth and make it feel more tender. We are slicing this in 1/4 thick pieces, you can try to cut this by hand or with something like the precise slice knife from victornix or the jerky board from Weston but if you have a slicer I would recommend you go with that.Picking a Seasoning
Now, the brisket really has a strong beef flavor, obviously so we want to choose something that will go with that without covering it up. We are going to be using the Colorado Spicy jerky seasoning that comes with a 1 oz bag of sure cure. The bag and the sure cure is enough for 25 lb of jerky but we are just going to be doing about 10 lb so we need .36 of a lb of the seasoning and 0.4 oz of the cure. We are going to mix these together and then drag our slices through the meat making sure to coat both sides evenly.
Once everything has been fully coated we are going to put them in a plastic bag and add just enough water so everything is submerged. This will further make sure that all areas of the meat are seasoned and cured. With some seasonings that have very large particle size I might not add water as I don’t want those large flakes of seasoning to be washed off but with something like colorado spicy which is all very small pieces of seasoning we’ll go ahead and add the water.
Now, we will set it in the fridge and let it sit overnight in the marinade to all the cure time to work. If we wanted, we could vacuum tumble this for 30-45 minutes and go ahead and smoke it today, so if you have a tumbler at home, like the marinade express pro, feel free to do that.Rack Tip & Smoke Schedule
You can cook this in your oven, smoker or even use your dehydrator to do this, just make sure that if you are doing this in your dehydrator that it gets above 160° first. Lay your jerky out flat on racks making sure to leave a way for air to flow through the racks, the easiest way to do this is to leave a 3" x 3" open space in the center of each rack. To get your probe thermometer to read correctly go ahead and fold over one piece of jerky and insert the probe in between the folds.
We are doing it in our smoker so we are starting it out at 120° with the vents wide open at both the top and the bottom. This is going to dry the surface of the jerky evenly and allow smoke to adhere and cook evenly and we will run this drying phase for an hour. Now, we are going to move the temperature up to 145 for 2 hours and close the dampers two thirds of the way. Finally we will raise the temp to 175 and cook until the internal temp reaches 160°.Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers
Jerky Jerky 101 - What Is Jerky?
Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!What is Jerky?
Jerky is a meat product that has been processed, seasoned, cured and then cooked or dried. Drying and curing meat is one of the oldest ways to preserve meat and has been around for 1,000s of years. It is typically made from low-fat content pieces of meat or has had the fat trimmed off. Jerky should still be cooked up to 160°F internal temperature to kill off harmful bacteria.Types of Jerky
Whole Muscle - Whole muscle is jerky that has been sliced into strips between 1/8" and 1/4" inch then coated on all sides with a mixture of the seasoning and the cure. Once that is done it will be placed in a plastic bag with just enough water to cover all the strips and held in a refrigerator for 12 hours and 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 - This is a form of jerky that has been ground up, seasoned and cured and then 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.Water activity
A key part of making jerky is lowering the water activity. A simple explanation of water activity is that it represents the amount of water in a product that is free to be used for microbial growth. A product can have some moisture to it but most of that water is bound up with the meat, or sugar and mold or other microbes cannot access it to begin spoiling the meat.Cure
You might hear some people say that Jerky does not need to be cured as it is going to be dried out. However, the meat will not start out at that level of dryness and since we are cooking this at low temperatures we are creating an environment that is ideal for the growth of botulism, so cure should be used for safety reasons. Think of it as a seat belt, your car will start without it but it’s not a great idea to ride around town without it on!Smoking/Dehydrating
We do not recommend that you use only a dehydrator unless that dehydrator can run at 160 or above. The reason for this is if you dehydrate the meat before killing off the bacteria you have made that bacteria much harder to kill. In essence, you need some moisture to kill the bad bacteria.Storage
If you have a way to measure water activity and it is below .85 then you do not really need to vacuum package it and it can be left out, now, there are other factors here but it is a good general rule. However, since most people do not have a way to monitor this you should still either put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge or vacuum package it.Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for Weston Dehydrator 160L Pro Series