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Beef jerky is a rare indulgence for many families who find the price prohibitive. But Sherri Scott, of Nez Perce, Idaho, and mother of four active teenagers, has discovered a creative way to cope with the outrageous price tag. She taught all of her kids how to make jerky from venison for a fraction of what they were paying for store-bought.

Smokehouse Jerky

1 lb lean beef or venison (454 g)
1 1/2 tsp pickling salt (9.75 g)
1/4 tsp Prague Powder #1 (1.4 g)
1/2 tsp cardamom (1.4 g)
1/2 tsp coriander, ground (0.85 g)
1/2 tsp garlic granules (1.7 g)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (1.25 g)
1/2 tsp Ancho chili powder (1.4 g)
1 tbsp hickory smoke powder (5.0 g)
2 tbsp corn syrup solids (27.6 g)
1/2 cup ice cold water (118 ml)
coarse black pepper (optional)*

1. Cut away all visible fat and connective tissue from the beef or venison.
2. Chill meat to 31°F (-0.55°C), slice into 1/4” (0.64 cm) thick strips.
3. Cut chilled meat across the grain for a tender bite, or with the grain for a chewy bite.
4. Combine remaining ingredients in a non-reactive container; mix well, add meat strips, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
5. Arrange meat strips on oiled racks in a single layer, leaving enough space between the pieces to allow sufficient air flow.
6. Dry meat strips at 145°F (63°C) in usual manner until meat is dried to about 40-50% of its original weight (green weight).
7. Properly dried jerky should keep up to 2 weeks in a sealed container or you can vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 months.

*Add to the flavor by sprinkling cracked black pepper over the top of the meat strips just prior to drying in the smoker, oven or dehydrator.

Depending on meat thickness and the drying method, whole-muscle jerky can take 6-12 hours to dry. Expect a 50-60% loss from start to finish.

To test for dryness, remove one piece of jerky from drying device and allow it to cool slightly. Bend the test piece into the shape of a horseshoe. If it cracks but doesn’t break, it’s considered dry enough and ready to eat.

For more whole-muscle jerky recipes and more jerky making information go to Sausage And Jerky Maker's Bible