Friday, September 14, 2012

An Experiment in the World of Jerky

Saving a few dollars here and there is what has allowed me the pleasure of hunting elk in Colorado this year. It has taken me a while to save up enough to do it, but the effort has been well worth it to me. Along with tucking money away, I have been working on some DIY projects and one of them has been making my own jerky for my trip. I was very fortunate in my endeavor, too. One of my co-workers and I were talking about jerky and dehydrators when he offered one up for me to use. Virtually brand new and with ten usable trays how could I say no? I had saved even more money due to the kindness of a co-worker. In return, I explained I must use him as a guinea pig to test out the jerky. He ever-so-willingly obliged.

With plenty of venison to left to eat up and my need for some jerky, I took out a large vacuum sealed bag of whitetail from last year. I am talking somewhere around twelve pounds worth of lean protein. I also had five pounds of elk burger and used that as well. I contemplated picking up a jerky gun for the ground meat, but I didn't want to spend the money I had just saved, so I came up with a different plan.

All of the recipes are homemade concoctions of things I like and wanted to try. The ground meat I marinated in Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning, a little brown sugar and some Worcestershire sauce for 12 hours. I left out any soy sauce because I wanted a little less sodium in the meat. For the sliced venison on day one I tried two different things. First recipe was black pepper, brown sugar, chili pepper, some onion powder and Worcestershire sauce. The second batch was with Camp Dog and Worcestershire sauce. For the ground meat, I drained off any excess fluid and then placed some hot dog sized rolls on wax paper. With a second piece of wax paper I pressed out the meat until it was a quarter inch or so thick. After spraying each tray with non-stick spray, I placed the meat on each tray and inserted them into the dehydrator.

I placed the dehydrator on my balcony so my wife wouldn't have to smell the aroma and to keep it away from my garage so my clothes wouldn't stink. I set the knob to 'Jerky' and let it go for eight hours. For most of the meat eight hours was right the right amount of time, but some had to go for an extra hour. Tasty dried meat and lots of it? Success!

The next weekend I tried a different method. The previous recipes were wet recipes. I followed up with dry recipes. For the third and fourth recipes I sliced the meat about a quarter inch thin, some a bit thicker, and patted them dry. I then laid them out in a glass cake pan and rubbed in Camp Dog and a little extra salt. Screw the sodium, it needed a bit more! The second dry rub was black pepper, garlic salt, and some cayenne pepper. I rubbed each piece of meat, flipped it over and rubbed that side as well. A layer of foil, another layer of meat, another rub, and repeat. I placed the pan in the refrigerator for twenty four hours to marinade.

The next day I placed the dehydrator on my balcony, turned the knob to 'Jerky' and let it go for eight hours. After eight hours I had a few bags of packable snacks for hunting trips!

I wound up with plenty of jerky and brought in two big bags for my co-worker. He loved it! I mentioned that I had left out the soy sauce and he said he thought it tasted fine without it. I thought it was pretty darn good, too! I've made jerky before using a jerky gun with the kit spices. I have also made homemade marinades based on other recipes and while they came out great, but this was my first shot at doing it on the fly. 

All in all I think it came out great! Some of the meat needed a little tang, so I added some Worcestershire sauce inside the bag and let it soak into the dried meat. It was perfect! Some was spicy, some was peppery and all of it is just plain GOOD! There is plenty for my trip and for me to share with my hunting buddies. I saved a ton of money just by putting some thought into it and doing it myself. The time it took to do it wasn't even much of a factor as most of the time was prepping the meat. Both batches combined probably took two hours. The dehydrating time doesn't count as I was able to do plenty of other things while it was drying out.  Either way, it didn't take long to make myself some healthy snacks for the season.

Dang it, now I am hungry.

1 comment:

  1. Socalbowhunter, I have to hand it to you. Genius.
    I decided to plunk myself down for a few moments, and look at your blog.
    Now, I have to find some jerky, as I am craving it and I do not have the prep time (or cook time).
    Good way to get it done.