Jerky 101 - What is Jerky?

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Jerky

    Jerky 101 - What Is Jerky?

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What is Jerky?

    Jerky is a meat product that has been processed, seasoned, cured and then cooked or dried. Drying and curing meat is one of the oldest ways to preserve meat and has been around for 1,000s of years. It is typically made from low-fat content pieces of meat or has had the fat trimmed off. Jerky should still be cooked up to 160°F internal temperature to kill off harmful bacteria.

    Types of Jerky

    Whole Muscle - Whole muscle is jerky that has been sliced into strips between 1/8" and 1/4" inch then coated on all sides with a mixture of the seasoning and the cure. Once that is done it will be placed in a plastic bag with just enough water to cover all the strips and held in a refrigerator for 12 hours and then cooked and or dehydrated. The advantages of this type of jerky are that it is easy to do and you need minimal equipment.

    Restructured Jerky - This is a form of jerky that has been ground up, seasoned and cured and then extruded into strips or sticks. The jerky is then cooked and or dehydrated to form the classic jerky structure. The advantage of this type of jerky is that you can control what form the jerky takes and that you can use more of the animal as you don’t need to start with a whole muscle cut of meat.

    Water activity

    A key part of making jerky is lowering the water activity. A simple explanation of water activity is that it represents the amount of water in a product that is free to be used for microbial growth. A product can have some moisture to it but most of that water is bound up with the meat, or sugar and mold or other microbes cannot access it to begin spoiling the meat.

    Cure

    You might hear some people say that Jerky does not need to be cured as it is going to be dried out. However, the meat will not start out at that level of dryness and since we are cooking this at low temperatures we are creating an environment that is ideal for the growth of botulism, so cure should be used for safety reasons. Think of it as a seat belt, your car will start without it but it’s not a great idea to ride around town without it on!

    Smoking/Dehydrating

    We do not recommend that you use only a dehydrator unless that dehydrator can run at 160 or above. The reason for this is if you dehydrate the meat before killing off the bacteria you have made that bacteria much harder to kill. In essence, you need some moisture to kill the bad bacteria.

    Storage

    If you have a way to measure water activity and it is below .85 then you do not really need to vacuum package it and it can be left out, now, there are other factors here but it is a good general rule. However, since most people do not have a way to monitor this you should still either put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge or vacuum package it.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasonings

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  • Pinned by  Jonathon Jonathon 
  • Walton's Employee

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  • Regular Contributors Team Orange Sous Vide

    PatrickB It worked, your comment…

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    In case anyone was wondering we found out that a few of the Meatgistics University courses had been being moved around based on the last comment, not on the last date we released them. So, we went through and pinned them all in order.

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About Meatgistics

Meatgistics is brought to you by Walton's (waltons.com). Meatgistics is a community site, knowledgebase, forum, blog, learning center, and a sharing site. You can find help and ask questions about anything related to meat processing, smoking and grilling meats, plus a whole lot more. Join Austin & Jon from Walton's and sign up for our Meatgistics community today. We have created Meagistics University, where we broke down meat processing into different categories and then broke it down into a class like structure. The introductory classes are 10s, the intermediate are 20s, and advanced are 30s.

About Walton's

Walton's Inc. sells meat processing equipment and supplies, including all of the Seasoning, Equipment, Supplies, Packaging, and Casings needed to make almost any type of sausage. Walton's sells to the commercial customer with a focus on the small to medium-sized processing plants or butcher shops, and directly to the hunter or processor who makes their own product at home. Whether you are a commercial or retail customer of Walton's you will be receiving the exact same seasoning and supplies, we do not have a different "line" for commercial and retail customers so that everyone can make the best sausage or jerky possible!

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