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Trouble with dehydrated jerky.

rickyrebar

New member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
6
Please help...I'm processing my game meat this year for the first time.
I just ran my 1st ever batch of jerky through my recently purchase RedHead 10 tray dehydrator.
Following the directions gathered from several different internet recipes I cut my jerky no thicker than 3/8" (targeted thickness, some thinner). Ran it through the dehydrator for 8 hours (I could never find an exact time / temp. recommendation, everyone said between 130º - 155º for 4-12 hours, lol).
Anyhow, the majority of it came out as hard as blade steel, the thicker parts of the pieces were more palatable than the thinner parts which resembled plastic chips.
I have read where some people suggested pre cooking the jerky in the oven @ 160º for 10 minutes then dehydrating to the point where it is not too dry, this makes sense to me but I'm stubborn and assumed if I purchased a dehydrator it should do it all... well it did and then some.
Any tips from some of you seasoned jerky makers out there? BTW, game meat I'm using is mule & blackmail deer & elk.
 

thomas89

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Apr 9, 2015
Messages
361
Well a first post about jerky is just as good as any! I like your style!

I have been doing a bit of jerky making myself recently. Without an actual slicer to get consistently uniform slices, I am forced to keep an eye on the jerky while drying. I use two of the $40 dehydrators from Wal-Mart and they work just fine. There is a bit of a learning curve, I start checking it about 6 hours into the drying time and pulling thinner pieces. I did just buy a jerky shooter for the ground jerky and all that is done at the same time.

I've found that I go off of feel more than anything. When it breaks and I can see the little white fibers, I call it good. I've also found that pulling it off the dehydrator when it is JUST about done helps because it will dry a little while cooling before going into the freezer.
 

rickyrebar

New member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
6
Well a first post about jerky is just as good as any! I like your style!

I have been doing a bit of jerky making myself recently. Without an actual slicer to get consistently uniform slices, I am forced to keep an eye on the jerky while drying. I use two of the $40 dehydrators from Wal-Mart and they work just fine. There is a bit of a learning curve, I start checking it about 6 hours into the drying time and pulling thinner pieces. I did just buy a jerky shooter for the ground jerky and all that is done at the same time.

I've found that I go off of feel more than anything. When it breaks and I can see the little white fibers, I call it good. I've also found that pulling it off the dehydrator when it is JUST about done helps because it will dry a little while cooling before going into the freezer.

So, regarding pulling it off when it is "JUST about done", brings up my next question regarding cooking / dehydrating it enough. There is a lot to read related to getting it cooked well enough to be safe. I like my meat pretty rare so having the jerky more chewy than crunchy would be my preference, but without monitoring the internal temperature of the meat, as long as it isn't raw, should I really be concerned? "They" say to be safe the meat should be brought up to an internal temp. of 160º... for 10-15 minutes.
 

thomas89

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Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
361
I have always been very confident eating meat without getting an internal temp by letting it cure long enough in the first place. Proper meat handling procedures will also aid in making sure your meat is safe to eat if on the rare side.

To be honest, I've never even been able to get an accurate read on a thermometer on jerky. I probably have too cheap of a meat thermometer but it doesn't read in a thin piece of jerky.
 

Muskeez

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Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,690
Location
NW Iowa
I too over-dried my first few batches. Then I saw on TV where a guy said that if you bend it and you can see white fibers inside it's done. I took that advice and my last 3 batches have been perfect. I rotate my trays as I have some spots that are hotter than others in my dehydrator. I also check it every 30-45 minutes and I use a cheap $89 slicer from Cabelas. This helps a lot to have close to consistent thickness. Mine are probably closer to 1/8" - 1/4".
 

sbhooper

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Jul 7, 2012
Messages
4,178
Location
North Platte, Nebraska
Unless you are using bear meat, don't worry about getting to exactly 160. My dehydrator is set on 160 and rarely gets past 156 or so. I usually do about 10 pounds at a time in my Cableas machine. I set the temp at 160 and the time at seven hours and leave it for at least half the time. I then start checking the meat and rotating the trays as necessary.

As the meat gets done, pull the done stuff off and let the rest go longer. I have found that the outside pieces on the racks dry faster. At the end of the cycle, there is always a few thicker pieces that have to have another hour or so after the rest is removed. Dry it until it is noticeably dry, but not to the point that you are referring to. I prefer to have it to where it will tear, but not snap in two.

I have seen some people do jerky and it was WAY too moist when done. You do not want that, as it promotes bacteria. Trial and error will get you to where you want to be.
 
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