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Seasoning for Hot Deer or Beef Jerky

I'm sending an answer about beef (and deer) jerky making that I've written before.

The extra ingredient I use on our "Smokin' Hot!" beef or deer jerky is cayenne pepper. You can usually find it at your local grocery store. I find that the fine or ground red pepper is better than the crushed, or coarse red pepper. Just add about one half an ounce of red pepper, along with the other seasonings, to 8 pounds of meat, or adjust accordingly to the meat you have. 

We'll start with some of the basics first, then get into the actual recipe. (And I know of a least 50 different recipes for making deer jerky, so I will just give you a basic one to start with. You can add or subtract many of the ingredients as you experiment.)

1. I'll be talking about making "whole muscle" deer jerky. This is not the same as ground and formed or hamburger type jerky.
The best piece of deer meat for jerky is the top round out of the deer hind quarter or ham. This is the oblong shape muscle along side the "thigh" bone. You could also use the boneless loin, but I don't because it is really the best cut of the deer (expect for the tenderloin, which is THE best).

2. If you don't have some kind of mechanical slicer, I suggest you buy one or take the deer top round to a butcher shop for slicing. Rival and Chefs'Choice are two companies who make food slicers for retail sale. The reason why you need one? To make really good jerky, the jerky meat needs to be the same thickness throughout the meat, one-fourth of an inch thick is standard. It is impossible to cut the top round by hand consistently at one-fourth of an inch.

[Here's a good tip: freeze the deer top round about one hour in your freezer before slicing, this will make it easier to slice!]

I personally slice the meat across the grain. I think this is about 50/50 in the real world. Half the people say to slice it with the grain, the other half against the grain. I've done it both ways many, many times, and it seems that if you slice against the grain, the jerky is not so hard to chew when it is dried. (And for people with bad teeth, like me, that is worth trying slicing against the grain!)

3. I always use a rub for my "cure" for deer or beef jerky. Some people use some type of liquid, such as soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, but I think the jerky tastes better without liquid. This is because you are trying to remove all of the moisture out of the meat when you make jerky, so why add extra to it.

4. As for as what seasonings to use? I basically use salt, black pepper (fresh ground), red pepper (powder and crushed), garlic salt or powder and sodium nitrite (more about sodium nitrite in #5 step).
I mix the ingredients in a sealed one gallon container and keep in the freezer between uses. Roughly, I personally use: 50% table salt; 25% black pepper, 10% ground or powered red pepper, 10% ground garlic and 5% red pepper flakes. This is my formula for what I call "Traditional" jerky. I also make a Bar-B-Q, Cajun, Peppered, and Hot jerky, by adding different seasonings to this base.

5. Sodium nitrite, also called curing salt, is used VERY sparingly. The recommendation from the government is 6.25%. This breaks down to 4 oz. per 100lbs, or 1 oz. per 25 lbs. Some people don't use curing salt to make their jerky, but I HIGHLY recommend to for food safety. (A close approximation would be 1 tsp. per 5 lbs. of meat.)

6. I sprinkle the seasoning on both sides of each jerky strip. (Sorry, but I still just "eyeball" this, so I can't give you any exact measurements.) I place the seasoned jerky strips in a plastic container, cover with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap loosely, and place in the "refrigerator" for 20 hours. (I don't recommend over 24 hours, I think this makes the meat mushy and less flavorful.)

7. I then lay the jerky strips on stainless steel screens in my smokehouse for 6 to 6.5 hours at 150 to 165 degrees. A close approximation to this would be place in your oven for about the same time and temp., and remember to leave the oven door slightly open. This helps in moving air over the strips and drying the meat.

That's about it. If you make a larger batch, you can easily and safely freeze what you won't eat in the immediate future. It will last over a year easily.

If I left something out, or you have another question, please ask! I'll be glad to try and help.

According to a study published by the American Medical Association, E.Coli can survive
drying times of up to 10 hours and temperatures of up to 145 degrees F. It is recommended
that venison being dried for jerky should be precooked to an internal temperature of at least
165 degrees F. Hunters and other consumers need to understand that wild game should
be handled and cooked with the same caution recommended for other meats.

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Last Updated:  Sunday, April 26, 2009 03:53 PM