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Cooking with Carhartt: How to Make Your Own Jerky
Jerky is a favorite snack for many Americans, and that’s understandable. The chewy, protein-packed treat is not only tasty, but it also travels well, making it a great on-the-go snack, especially during hiking and hunting trips. Jerky is also another way to utilize the meat from successful hunts since making your own is not as difficult as you may think.
How It Works
Jerky is made by dehydration, the process of removing water from food. Dehydrating meat helps remove the bacteria, preserve it and concentrate the flavor. While a fancy dehydrator can help with the process, you don’t need one to make your own jerky. You only need your oven.
You can make jerky out of almost any type of meat, including beef, venison, elk, bison, duck, turkey and even salmon. You don’t need the most expensive cut of meat for this process. After all, you aren’t looking for tenderness. You simply need to choose a lean cut with all the fat trimmed away. If you don’t have a butcher to do this for you, it’s an easy process to trim the fat away at home.
Once you’ve chosen the cut, place the meat in the freezer for a couple of hours. While it might sound like an odd step, freezing the meat will make it easier to achieve precise cuts.
After removing the meat, slice it into thin strips about ⅛” to ¼” thick, depending on your preference, and marinade the meat in your chosen flavors.
This is the fun part. You can make your jerky into anything you want. Traditional, Asian Fusion, Spicy, Chipotle, Sweet and Spicy are just a few flavor combinations awaiting you. Here at Carhartt, we work off of a base recipe and add certain ingredients to make it special. This works especially well if you want to make different varieties of jerky at once.
Once you’ve cut the meat into thin strips, place them into a large resealable bag, dump in the marinade, close the bag and massage. You need to work the marinade into the meat as much as possible.
Allow the meat to refrigerate from four to 24 hours. The longer you allow the meat to marinate in the refrigerator, the more flavor your jerky will have.
Remove your oven racks and place aluminum foil over the bottom of your oven to catch any dripping and preheat your oven to its lowest temperature, usually around 150 to 180 degrees.
Place the racks on paper towels and arrange your meat. Be sure there is enough space between each strip for air to circulate. Place the racks back in the oven and allow the meat to dehydrate for three hours, then flip the strips. Allow it to cook for another three to four hours.
Taste test around the six-hour mark and if the jerky easily bends and tears, it’s ready. Be sure to monitor closely so you don’t overcook the meat. If it breaks, you’ve gone too far.
Once you’ve reached optimal dehydration (firm, yet bendable), take your jerky from the oven and cool. Store in an airtight container for up to six months and enjoy at will.
Before you pack up your hiking gear and hit the trail or head out on a hunt, make sure you toss a little extra jerky in your backpack. Your friends (and your stomach) will thank you!