Jerky Recipes, Whole Muscle
Welcome to the web's most trusted homemade jerky recipes, we show you how to make jerky using your meat and a beef or venison jerky recipe from our recipe archive.

Apple Cider Jerky
Brown Sugar Jerky
Cracked Pepper And Honey Jerky
Ginger And Honey Jerky
Honey Barbeque Jerky
Hot And Smoky Jerky
Microwave Jerky
Original Flavor Jerky
Pork Jerky
Smokehouse Jerky
Soy Sauce Jerky
Sweet And Spicy Jerky
Teriyaki Jerky
Tofu Jerky

Origin Of Jerky
Historians tell us that during the exploration and colonization of the Americas, the Spanish discovered the North American Indians were using a similar drying method to preserve their meat. As the natural mingling of the two peoples occurred, the natives assumed the Spanish term “ch’arqui”, except they pronounced it as “jerky.” Jerky quickly became the main food source during the expansion of the North American continent because it was nutrient-rich, lightweight and would keep for months without spoiling, it was highly prized by traders, explorers, and early settlers. These enterprising folks dried deer, elk, and buffalo using salt and whatever spices they had on hand. Many would sun dry their meat by hanging it on the outside of their covered wagons, others would build makeshift scaffolds to dry the meat strips over slow-burning smoky fires.

Modern Day Jerky
Since those early days, the making of jerky has been highly commercialized and sun-dried jerky is a thing of the past. Today’s jerky is mass produced within a carefully controlled environment, vacuum packed and shipped to hungry consumers across the country. But there’s also a growing number of do-it-yourself types getting involved in home jerky making as a way to save money and become more self reliant. These folks have been hurt financially by the extra money they’ve had to shell out at the gas pump during this latest economic downturn. They’re paying more for home heating oil, electricity, clothing, groceries, higher taxes, and there doesn’t seem to be any end insight. Americans are once again clipping coupons in an effort to put food on the table. Some are reverting back to their ancestral ways and growing their own foodstuffs on roof tops and in community food plots. Others are canning more, and making their own wholesome snack treats, and no longer settling for the modern-day prepackaged jerky they’ve eaten in the past.

In addition, homemakers are discovering that jerky made from their own fresh meat and quality ingredients, is an excellent source of protein and a wholesome snack food the entire family can enjoy. They’re finding that jerky is fairly inexpensive to make and doesn’t require much in the way of equipment to get started. All it takes is a simple cutting board and a sharp knife to slice the meat slabs into whole-muscle strips and a dehydrator or working oven. You’ll also need a variety of household spices and pink curing salt to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Anything you don’t have can be secured online. Simply key in “jerky supplies” to find any number of online sausage and jerky supply stores.

Not Without Risks
However enjoyable it may be prove to be, producing your own jerky at home is not without its risks. Whereas, commercial jerky producers are required to follow strict USDA recommended guidelines, which substantially reduce the threat of bacterial contamination in store-bought jerky products, the home jerky maker isn’t legally bound by any regulations other than the ones he/or she imposes on themselves. So they must also pay close attention to the all-important safety factor, and not put themselves at risk by ignoring the fundamentals of jerky safety. They must be aware that homemade jerky could contain harmful bacteria which can cause severe illness and in some cases even death.

For starters, jerky meat that isn’t properly handled or stored can become tainted with any number of sickness-inducing microorganisms. The subsequent contamination may cause a serious illness or worse! Know where your meat comes from, and always buy and/or use the freshest you can find. It doesn’t matter if your meat is straight from the cow, or it’s prepackaged from the meat counter, the fresher the meat, the better the jerky. Check the package expiration dates carefully. Generally, the freshest packages are toward the back or the bottom of the pile. See Cryovac beef on page 224-226.

Seeing as the handling and consumption of any raw meat brings with it a potential risk of Salmonella and E. coli, I strongly suggest that jerky makers go online and read the USDA Fact Sheet entitled “Food Safety of Jerky” before delving into this fascinating pursuit. It’s a fact-based document laden with impartial information about the inherent risks of home jerky making, and clearly a great way to familiarize yourself with the safety issues swirling around this process.

Let us not forget the outbreak of February 1995, when 93 people in New Mexico were diagnosed with Salmonellas (a type of food poisoning caused by the salmonella bacterium). The meat packer involved with the outbreak had dried the partially frozen beef strips (jerky) three hours at 140°F (60°C) and then an additional 19 hours at 115°F (46°C). Also in 1995, 11 people in Oregon were infected with E. coli O157:57 as a result of consuming homemade venison jerky, which had been dried at 125-135°F (52-57°C) for 12-18 hours.

The 1995 E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks were instrumental in bringing the issue of bacterial poisoning to the forefront for the development of new and more efficient methods of processing jerky. In 1999, Colorado State University reported on four alternative methods of jerky preparation, including the hot Pickle Cure Preparation Method currently recommended by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (SIS). To learn more about the hot pickle method see page 334.

I would be irresponsible if I neglected to include the procedure and deny the novice a chance to use the pickle cure method. Their opinion may be very different then my own. See the Hot Pickle Cure Jerky method as suggested by the University of Colorado on the following page. This procedure (wet heat) provides protection against the survival of E. coli O157:H7.

Hot Pickle Method Of Drying Jerky
“The jerky preparation methods given below were developed as part of a joint project between the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University, and were found effective in reducing E. coli O157:H7 numbers in inoculated samples.”

“Pickle Cure Preparation Method Colorado extension
Ingredients per two pounds of lean meat
Pickling Spices:
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
Hot Pickle Brine:
3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 gallon water

Directions: Place jerky slices on clean cookie sheets or flat pans. Evenly distribute half of the pickling spices on the top surfaces of the jerky slices. Press spices into the meat slices with a rubber mallet or meat tenderizer. Turn slices and repeat on opposite sides. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Combine ingredients for hot pickle brine (salt, sugar, pepper, water) in a large kettle. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar and bring to a slow boil (175°F). Place a few meat slices at a time in a steamer basket and lower into brine. Simmer for 1½ to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all pieces are immersed.

Lift basket out of kettle and drain off liquid. Using clean tongs, remove meat pieces and place flat, without touching each other, on clean dehydrator trays, oven racks or other drying trays. Immediately begin drying as described below. Repeat process until all meat pieces have been pickled in the brine solution and placed in the dehydrator.”

Source: Colorado State University Extension