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What Is Ground Jerky?

Regardless of what you call it, restructured, chopped and formed, extruded, pressed, ground or  hamburger jerky, this popular comminuted product is made from lean ground meat. Its widespread appeal has much to do with the fact that it’s typically less expensive to buy than it’s whole-muscle counterpart. Ground jerky is also easier to chew which many jerky enthusiasts find enormously appealing. In addition, this high-protein, low-fat, snack food is literally everywhere we travel––convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, and just about anyplace else manufacturers can find a rack to hang it on.
Ground jerky’s phenomenal popularity happened shortly after commercial jerky makers figured out how to formulate restructured jerky from lean beef trimmings that normally would have been ground into less expensive sausage or lean burger. The sales of comminuted jerky products improved the gross profit margins substantially, prompting a number of manufacturers to forgo the production of natural jerky (whole muscle jerky) altogether and concentrate their efforts on making ground jerky. I’d be willing to wager that a majority of modern-day jerky lovers have eaten restructured jerky  without even knowing there was a difference between it and the more traditional whole muscle jerky.

In addition, clever do-it-your self types have been turning out ground jerky with rolling pins years prior to the creation of the modern-day jerky guns and jerky shooters, taking full advantage of this unique extrusion process. The flavor possibilities for this kind of product are endless, because just like sausage, the ingredients are infused directly into the ground meat mixture. It means that you get the full flavor of the herbs and spices being added, unlike when you marinate whole-muscle meat strips and toss a good portion of the flavor ingredients away when you discard the unused marinade.

All-Around Jerky Maker

1. Swing the transition feed tube in the upward position if you are using a sausage stuffer; tighten grinder head.2. Swing the transition feed tube in the downward position for a meat grinder; tighten head assembly.
3. Choose the flat insert to make two jerky strips at a time or the round insert to make three jerky sticks at time. 
4. Slide the paper attachment into the fixed groove as shown in the above photo. Lock attachment in place.
5. Pull the end of the extruder paper through the paper holder slot. Begin feeding the meat into the system.
6. As the meat begins to exude from the slots, pull the paper and the resulting jerky strips down the ramp.

7. Pull the paper slowly to control the thickness and size of the jerky. Too fast produces an irregular product.

8. Use a pair of sterilized shears to cut the jerky meat strips/paper to the length of your individual drying screen.
9. Stack the finished product (with paper still attached) on a cookie sheet;  refrigerate overnight to cure.

10. Next day, lay the jerky strips on drying screen (remove paper) and dry jerky in oven, smoker or dehydrator.