How to Make the Best Tasting Venison Jerky Ever and Free Recipes

By Marty Prokop

Many members of the Free-Deer-Hunting-Tips.com community have asked me for recipes and directions to make jerky from their deer.

I have made over 991, 990 pounds — yes, that’s nearly a million pounds — of sausage, smoked meats and jerky.

You can make great tasting venison jerky right in your own kitchen. In this www.Free-Deer-Hunting-Tips.com Newsletter I will reveal to you the secrets.

Talking Jerky

There are two main types of jerky. One is solid muscle or sliced jerky, and the other is pressed or ground meat jerky.

Let me explain.

Sliced Jerky

A solid muscle jerky is made from a very lean cut of meat free from gristle. You can also substitute beef, elk or other red meats for the venison. The most commonly meat used for jerky comes from the hind quarter or back leg of the deer. The particular area is called the round. This is made up of several different muscle groups.

There are three main muscles you will use for making jerky: top round, bottom round and eye of round.

These three muscles are virtually gristle-free and very lean. These are the same muscles you would use to cut steaks from your deer. The difference would be in the way you cut the meat.

Steaks are cut against the grain of the meat. Jerky is cut with the grain of the meat. When you cut jerky meat with the grain it produces the chewy, almost stringy, consistency people associate with jerky.

Pressed Jerky

The other type of jerky is made from ground meats and is pressed or formed.

When making this type of jerky, make sure you choose very lean cuts of meat. You will mix in a dry seasoning mix with this meat much like you would when making sausage.

Here are a couple of my favorite recipes for great tasting venison jerky.

Solid Muscle or Sliced Jerky Recipe

1) Slice 3 pounds of venison round with the grain approximately 1/4" to 3/8" thick. Here is a special secret tip: Freeze the meat for about 60 to 90 minutes prior to slicing will help your slices remain more uniform in thickness.

After drying your jerky, your 3 pounds of start weight will weigh about 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds.

2.) Spices:

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon quick cure. Get this at your local butcher shop or butcher supply company. This is an important ingredient because your jerky will be drying at low temperatures.
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated liquid smoke. This is optional and is used if you are using a dehydrator and want a smoky flavor

3) Mix the spices together in large bowl.

4) Coat the individual slices of meat with the marinade mixture by dipping both sides into the marinate mixture. Make sure all surfaces have been covered. After dipping, place the meat slice into a large zip-top bag.

5) Pour excess marinate liquid over meat in the zip-top bag. Close zip lock.

6) Place bag in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

7) Secret Tip: Make sure you mix the meat and marinade at least two times during its 24 hour soak. This will insure all pieces have absorbed the marinade equally.

Three Ways to Dry Your Sliced Venison Jerky

There are three different ways you can go about drying your venison jerky:

Oven Method:

1) Turn heat on oven to its lowest temperature.

2) Take meat out of refrigerator.

3) Place meat onto oven racks or clean metal screen. Keep 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch space between slices. Do not allow slices to overlap or the overlapped areas will not dry.

4) Place racks with jerky meat into the oven.

5)  Leave the oven door cracked open to allow steam to escape. Let jerky dry for approximately 6 hours or to desired dryness. Oven drying times will vary, so make sure to check the dryness of the jerky every hour or so. Do not leave your oven on, unattended if you are making jerky, plan to be home to watch it.

Dehydrator Method

1) Check if your dehydrator needs pre-heating. If so, preheat to highest setting.

2) Take meat out of refrigerator.

3) Place meat onto dehydrator racks. Keep 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch space between slices. Do not allow slices to overlap or the overlapped areas will not dry.

4) Place the racks with the meat on into your dehydrator.

5) Turn dehydrator to highest setting, usually 145 to 155 degrees, if you have not already preheated dehydrator.

6) Set timer on dehydrator to 8 hours. Dehydrator drying times will vary, so make sure to check the dryness of the jerky every hour or so. Do not leave your dehydrator on unattended, if you are making jerky, plan to be home to watch it.

Smoker Method

1) Heat smoker to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Take meat out of refrigerator.

3) Place meat onto smoker racks. Keep 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch space between slices. Do not allow slices to overlap or the overlapped areas will not dry.

4) Put racks with meat on into smoker.

5) Dry at 180 degrees for approximately 3 hours. Do not add smoke at this point. If you do it will cause terrible tasting liquid to pool on the jerky surface. Smoke is added as a last step. See next step to prepare wood chips.

6) If you want to add smoke to your jerky drying process, soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes prior to adding to your smoker. This will allow the chips to smolder rather than burn and produce a flame which could burn your jerky. See next step for when to add wood chips to your smoker.

7) When the surfaces of the jerky pieces are dry and you touch the jerky meat and it feels a little tacky, like paint as it is nearly dried, add the water soaked wood chips to a heat source. This will add a smoky flavor.

8) Keep a close eye on your smoker. It can be challenging to maintain a perfect temperature of 180 degrees.

9) Smoker drying times will vary, so make sure to check the dryness of the jerky every hour or so. Do not leave your smoker on unattended, if you are making jerky, plan to be home to watch it.

Ground Meat Jerky Recipe

1) Make sure you freeze the ground meat you plan to use for jerky for at least 2 days. Freezing will kill any bacteria that may be in the meat. The meat you choose for ground jerky should be very lean and contain very little or no fat.

2) Thaw the meat in the refrigerator using safe thawing guidelines.

3) Here is the Recipe for Ground Meat Jerky:

  • 3 pounds ground meat
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 level teaspoon quick cure
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 3 tablespoons water

4) Mix spices, water and quick cure in bowl.

5) When the seasoning has dissolved in the water add 3 pounds lean ground venison. Mix meat and spice mixture thoroughly.

6) Here is what I always said in my meat shop. When you think you have mixed the meat enough, mix it again. Mixing by hand should take at least 5 minutes.

Jerky Gun Method of Forming Jerky Strips from Ground Meat mixture

1) Pack meat into the jerky gun tightly making sure there are no air pockets.

2) "Shoot" the ground meat mixture onto dehydrator racks leaving 1/8 inch spaces between each piece.

3) Once all the meat is placed on to racks, set dehydrator temperature to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

4) Set dehydrator timer or a timer for 6 hours.

5) After about 2 1/2 hours spin the racks in the dehydrator placing the front of the rack to the back of the dehydrator. As you are spinning each rack, check to see if any of the jerky is done to your desired dryness. Pull these dried pieces and set to the side.

6) Continue drying until all jerky is done to your liking.

Rolling Pin Method of Forming Jerky Strips from Ground Meat mixture

If you do not have a jerky gun you can still make great pressed jerky.

1) All you need to do is place the meat mixture between two sheets of waxed paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the meat to the desired thickness you like, usually about 1/8 inch to ¼ inch thick.

2) Place the rolled meat sheet onto a cookie sheet then into freezer for 30 to 60 minutes. This makes it much easier to cut.

3) Remove from freezer and slice into 1 inch wide pieces that fit onto your drying rack. Place pieces onto dehydrator racks.

4) Once all the meat is placed on to racks, set dehydrator temperature to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

5) Set dehydrator timer or a timer for 6 hours.

6) After about 2 1/2 hours spin the racks in the dehydrator placing the front of the rack to the back of the dehydrator. As you are spinning each rack, check to see if any of the jerky is done to your desired dryness. Pull these dried pieces and set to the side.

7) Continue drying until all jerky is done to your liking.

What Can You Do if Your Jerky is Too Dry?

When you pull your jerky off the heat source and find it too dry, almost chalky or brittle, you can reconstitute it slightly by placing it into a zip-top bag with 1 tablespoon plain water. This method will not undo burned jerky, but it will help to reconstitute over-dried jerky.

Simply put your jerky into the bag and sprinkle the water onto the jerky pieces.

Make sure you shake the bag to disperse the water evenly.

Seal the bag for an hour. Then crack it open and let it stand for a few more hours.

This should moisten your jerky.

Storing Finished Jerky

Never store your finished jerky in a plastic bag for long periods of time unless you place it into the freezer. A sealed plastic bag will produce condensation and could cause your jerky to mold. If the jerky does have mold on it, I suggest you not eat it and throw it out. I do not even feed it to pets as you could end up with a veterinarian bill.

If you are going to leave your jerky out of the freezer, place it into a brown paper bag or a clear jar. Put this into the refrigerator.

I always suggest keeping jerky meat refrigerated. This will help prevent spoilage and mold growth.

Let me know how your jerky turns out by posting at the Deer Hunters Blog at http://www.marty-prokop.com.  I am sure you will love it.

Good Luck and Great Hunting.

Marty Prokop

http://www.free-deer-hunting-tips.com

About Marty Prokop

Deer hunting expert Marty Prokop reveals closely guarded deer hunting secrets on how to get deer every time. Get his Free Deer Hunting Tips Newsletter, free deer videos and free online deer hunting game at Free Deer Hunting Tips.com

Marty Prokop has 24-years experience deer hunting, processing deer for deer hunters and venison sausage making .  Marty Prokop teaches deer hunting, hunter safety, deer processing and deer sausage making classes. Marty Prokop has processed 7,805 deer, field dressed 422 deer and made over 991,990 pounds of sausage, smoked meats and jerky. Marty Prokop worked with Minnesota DNR programs. His deer hunting videos are used in statewide advanced hunter education classes. Marty Prokop is a successful speaker, outdoor writer and published author.

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