As springtime approaches, the desire for a handy, protein-rich snack becomes stronger. Whether you’re fishing for early-season trout, hunting turkeys, or simply enjoying the fresh outdoors, having a tasty break can indeed brighten your day.
Venison jerky strips are a fantastic, easy-to-carry snack that can give you that quick energy bump when needed. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make your own venison jerky in dehydrator.
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In this article:
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): Key Takeaways
- 🏆 Having a dehydrator allows for experimentation with different recipes and cuts of meat, resulting in a tasty and convenient snack like venison jerky.
- 🏹 Using spare meat like roasts or back straps can be a great option for making venison jerky, especially if the meat is tough.
- 🍖 Marinating venison jerky for 24 hours is crucial for maximum flavor and tenderness.
- 🌬️ Preheating the dehydrator before placing the jerky racks inside ensures an efficient drying process.
- 🌡️ It’s important to bring the internal temperature of the meat up to a safe temperature of 165°F when making venison jerky in a dehydrator.
- ⏲️ It takes anywhere from four to six hours to dry venison jerky in a dehydrator, with thinner pieces drying more quickly than thicker pieces.
Preparing The Meat
When starting this endeavor, you’d typically want to utilize a substantial chunk of meat, like a two-pound roast from a previous season. For the venison to be transformed into jerky, it needs to be sliced thinly into about quarter-inch thick strips. You can use a meat slicer if you want. Here is our best meat slicer for jerky recommendation.
Ensuring all the strips are uniform in size and thickness will result in even drying during the dehydration process.
You can use any spare venison meat for this, be it from a roast, back straps, or any other cut. However, note that the texture of your jerky will depend on the direction you cut in relation to the grain of the meat. If you cut with the grain, you’ll have a softer jerky. If you cut against the grain, your jerky will be more chewy.
Once you’ve cut your venison into nice, uniform strips, you’ll want to go through the pile of meat to find and remove any bits of fat or membrane. Jerky is best when it’s made with just pure meat, so strive to remove as much fat as you can.
Creating The Marinade
With the meat ready, it’s time to focus on the marinade. A sweet teriyaki marinade will impart a fantastic flavor to your jerky. To create this marinade, you’ll need:
- Half a cup of Worcestershire per pound of meat
- Half a cup of any teriyaki marinade
- One-third cup of soy sauce
- A tablespoon of lemon juice
- A teaspoon of hot sauce
- Half a cup of brown sugar
- One tablespoon each of ground black pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder
- A teaspoon of paprika
Remember, if you are preparing two pounds of venison, double the ingredients.
Once your ingredients are ready, whisk them together thoroughly, ensuring a well-mixed marinade.
Submerge your venison strips in the marinade, stir them well to ensure they’re adequately coated, then let them soak for 24 hours in the refrigerator. This soaking process is vital as it allows the meat to absorb the flavors from the marinade.
After marinating for at least 24 hours, it’s time to dry the venison. Start by preparing your dehydrator, preheating it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For easier cleanup, consider lining the bottom of your dehydrator with a paper towel to catch any drippings.
Once the dehydrator is preheated, remove the strips from the marinade. Before placing the meat in the dehydrator, blot the strips with a paper towel to remove any excess marinade.
Arrange the venison strips on the dehydrator racks with ample space between each piece to ensure adequate airflow for drying. Once the dehydrator is preheated and your meat is placed, the drying process can begin.
Monitoring and Adjusting
The drying process should start at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit for the first hour. This will bring the internal temperature of the meat up to a safe temperature. After an hour, check the jerky, removing any excess marinade that may have pooled on top.
For the subsequent drying process, reduce the temperature to about 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue drying for another hour and a half to two hours, checking intermittently.
After an hour and a half, start checking the venison jerky for doneness. Flip the strips and ensure they are not sticking to the racks. Some strips may be done before others depending on their thickness and moisture content.
A good indication of doneness is when the jerky bends easily and fractures but does not break. If it breaks, it is over-dried. If it feels mushy, it’s still too moist.
Check your jerky every hour, flipping the pieces and removing any that are already done.
Your venison jerky should be ready within three to four hours (sometimes six). The best way to tell if it’s done is by bending it; it should be pliable, fracture but not break. If it feels mushy, it needs more time. If it breaks, it’s been dried for too long.
Once the jerky is done, remove them and set them aside on a paper towel. They can be stored in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and refrigerated for up to a week or two. If you plan to store them longer, you can vacuum seal them and freeze them for up to a month.
Storing Your Jerky
Once your venison jerky is perfectly dried, it’s time to store it for your future outdoor adventures. You can keep it in a plastic bag with a paper towel for short-term storage or vacuum-seal and freeze it for longer periods.
How long does venison jerky take in a dehydrator?
The total time required can vary depending on the thickness and moisture content of the meat, but generally, it takes about 3 to 4 hours at a temperature setting of 145-165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is it safe to make deer jerky in a dehydrator?
Yes, it is safe to make deer jerky in a dehydrator as long as the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This kills any potentially harmful bacteria.
How do you set a dehydrator for deer jerky?
Set the dehydrator at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit for the first hour to bring the internal temperature of the meat up to a safe level. After this, you can reduce the temperature to about 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit for the remaining drying process.
How long does it take to dehydrate jerky strips?
Jerky strips usually take about 3 to 4 hours to dehydrate, depending on their thickness and moisture content.
How should venison jerky be stored?
Venison jerky can be stored in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and refrigerated for up to a week or two. For longer storage, vacuum seal them and freeze them for up to a month.
Venison jerky strips are an excellent snack for outdoor activities like hiking or fishing. Making them at home gives you control over the ingredients and the level of dryness you prefer.
This comprehensive guide will help you prepare a delicious batch of venison jerky strips for your next adventure. Remember, practice makes perfect, and the more you do it, the better you get. Happy dehydrating!
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