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Low Tech Jerky for Food Storage and a Recipe

A few years back, I saw this segment of “Good Eats” (a Food Channel show) on jerky.  I quickly copied his recipe and logged it in my mind.  Someone asked me a question on jerky last month that made me go searching for this video.  When I found it and watched it again, I was amazed.  They made a ‘preparedness food’ episode and didn’t even know it! I wrote and article about it on American Preppers Network and now I am bringing a version of it here to my own blog.

This will show you exactly how to make your own jerky for storage without a fancy dehydrator or smoker out of a household box fan and some furnace filters (unused of course).  It will EVEN show you how to make your own 'homemade liquid smoke'!  All you need is some spare time to give the video a look, the guy hosting (Alton Brown) is a goofball but his information is good.
For grins I tried it (of COURSE I tried it) and it turned out great.  A little on the crunchy fibrous side but good, I figure if meat is like veggies the snap factor indicates near complete dehydration – and appropriateness for longer term storage.  Alton Brown from “Good Eats” on this episode claims it will last at least 4 years in a jar.  Watch and enjoy!

Here is part one of the jerky episode.

The full episode is now only available to view online if  purchase it - $1.99 by clicking here. I am not making any money by linking to it and am highly unimpressed with Food Network's decision to charge for a 2005 educational video that up until two weeks ago was available completely for free on youtube. But if you do want to see the whole episode I wanted to provide the means. I suppose it's cheaper than a DVD.
Jerky Maranide Recipe
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak
    2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
    2/3 cup soy sauce
    1 tablespoon honey
    2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    2 teaspoons onion powder
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    Special Equipment:  1 box fan, 4 paper air-conditioning filters, and 2 bungee cords
What you will see in the second half of that Good Eats Episode is how Alton Brown dehydrates his marinated jerky using some clean furnace filters set on top of a simple box fan. Evenly distribute the strips of meat onto 3 of the air filters, laying them in the grooves and then stacking the filters on top of one another. Top these with 1 empty filter. Next, lay the box fan on its side and lay the filters on top of it. Strap the filters to the fan with 2 bungee cords. Stand the fan upright, plug in and set to medium. Allow the meat dry for 8 to 12 hours.
If you don’t want pay to watch the episode and would like more detail on this technique click here. When asked recently during a Q&A session at a public speaking engagement if the jerk recipe and technique was safe he said that it was and otherwise he would not have been allowed by his lawyers or by Food Network to produce it - but he does acknowledge it is not "USDA approved."  

At the very end of the episode he makes a jerky soup / tomato sauce, which would make the perfect food storage recipe.

A word on safety:  According to the USDA, the risk in dehydrating meat without first cooking it to a safe temperature is that the appliance (the box fan) will not heat the meat to 160 °F  — the temperature at which bacteria are destroyed in beef —before it dries.  If the bacteria survives the salty acidic marinade, IF these surviving bacteria are pathogenic (BIG IF), they can cause food borne illness to those consuming the jerky.  In all fairness, many consumer model food dehydrators will only heat homemade jerky up to 130-140°F while drying, which is not technically adequate heat for killing all bacteria either.  If you want to make jerky at home, you should at least review USDAs guidelines to making homemade jerky before you begin.

Other Food Borne Illnesses Risks we Take:
  • Raw eggs found in homemade ice cream (BRING IT)
  • Rare steaks (The only way to fly – in my never humble opinion)
  • Slightly undercooked or dare I even say pink hamburger!!!
  • Raw cookie dough (Ummm….I think I ate too much cookie dough…)
  • Soft chewy bacon (According to my still living Dad, the rubberier, the better)

There are also other special considerations to take when making homemade jerky from venison or other wild game.  Wild game meat is not regulated by the USDA prior to processing.  Venison can also, if not killed or handled properly (this is usually in direct proportion to the hunters skill and knowledge), be contaminated with fecal bacteria.  While fresh beef is usually rapidly chilled and/or frozen, deer carcasses are typically held at ambient temperatures (whatever the temperature is outside at the time of the kill and/or aging), potentially allowing bacteria multiplication. 
So what type of “insurance” do you require for your homemade jerky adventures?  It really is up to you.

1 comment:

  1. Haven't looked at the whole article, but I just have to say: never humble opinion gave me a chuckle.

    My next purchase: a quality dehydrator, not because I am prepping, but because I love the stuff. I purchase it on the market for snacks. Now to view the article and vid.


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