Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who Doesn't Like Jerky?

It's lightweight. It's tasty. It keeps for a long time. It's a great trail food. It's a good method of storing meat that people have been using for thousands of years. Too bad it's so expensive. It's a lot cheaper when you make it yourself but you have to leave the oven on all night or get a dehydrator, right? Wrong.

All you need is a fan and a drying rack. The fan isn't even necessary if you don't have too much humidity and you can keep the bugs away. You don't even need the drying rack if you just hang it up to dry. The fan speeds things up and if you use the drying rack you won't have to listen to your wife, parents, SO, roommates, etc complain about the strips of meat that are hanging up in the kitchen window.

First get yourself some meat. Make sure it's as lean as possible.

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Fat doesn't dry out and it'll turn rancid, spoiling the meat so trim it all off. Then cut the meat into strips.

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Next you'll want to marinade your meat. Salt is an important ingredient. Add whatever else you like or don't add anything. I use sea salt, cayenne powder, garlic powder and pepper. You can also use stuff like teriyaki sauce, soy sauce or anything else that doesn't have a lot of oil or fat in it. Mix it up and let your meat soak in it for a few hours.

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Once it's done marinading just put it on the drying rack. I like to sprinkle some pepper on both sides. Then turn the fan on and leave it for a couple of days.

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You'll know when it's done. The meat will darken and it'll become very hard and tough. Wait until there are no more squishy spots. You can also dry fruits and vegetables with this method. Just cut them into small, thin pieces. Along with the meat I dried out some mango this time.

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I hope this gives a few of you some ideas. Even if you don't eat it day to day at least try it a couple of times just in case your freezer goes down or something. In a grid down situation this will probably be one of the better ways to store large amounts of meat.

5 comments:

SurvivalTopics.com said...

Makes my mouth water just looking at those pics. Good post!

Have you tried this method with fish?

The Urban Survivalist said...

Fish is next on the agenda. I'm probably going to try it with chicken, too, just to see if it works. I don't remember ever seeing anyone selling chicken jerky, though. There's got to be a reason for that.

Anonymous said...

I know a guy that makes goose jerky.

Michael Hawkins said...

A few pieces of plank and some flyscreen mesh will keep bugs at bay, and looks a lot less "offensive" Make a folding for ease of storage/backpacking.

Anonymous said...

In Zimbabwe, they hung the meat under the eaves of the thatched roof. If you hung your jerky there, that would REALLY freak out the wife and neighbors! :-)
Based on the way they hang their jerky, I skewer the top of each slice with a toothpick and hang the slices from the oven rack. The pilot light dries everything out to a nice consistency in about 8 hours. I don't dry mine quite all the way down; I take it down while it's still chewy, then vacuum pack about a dozen pieces in a pack. Once I open the vacuum pack, I get 5-6 pieces of chewy and let the rest dries out to normal consistency.