Survival Skills: Make Your Own Jerky

Before refrigeration and canning, humans figured out how to dry meats as jerky.

Most of us only know about beef (or venison) jerky, but any lean meat can and should be used. Turkey, for instance, is naturally lean and mildly flavored, making it perfect for seasoned jerky. Nearly any hunted game and fish can be turned into jerky following a few easy steps.

Step 1
Select a lean cut of meat. The less fat, the better, so go for a lean sirloin/venison or similar cut.

Step 2
Remove all visible fat (fat makes the jerky spoil faster), then cut the meat into thin strips no thicker than 1/2-inch (13 mm). If you’re buying meat from a market, ask the butcher to cut the strips for you, otherwise, freeze the meat for five minutes to make it easier to cut on your own.

Step 3
Marinate the strips of meat with olive oil and sea salt or a recipe of your choice, and then let them refrigerate overnight.

Step 4
Rub dry spices over the marinated cuts before baking. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t shy away from salt—it will aid in the drying process.

Step 5
If you’re lucky, you have a dehydrator for this step. But if you don’t, your oven will suffice: Preheat it to 165ºF (74ºC). Remember the goal is to dry, not cook. Set the strips atop a wire rack in the oven, and catch any drippings. Then bake one- to three hours, or until the jerky is dry to the touch.

Step 6
You should eat your jerky within two weeks of making it. Store it in an airtight container (a vacuum sealer is ideal) and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Shop Sportsman’s Gide for a fine selection of Food Processing Equipment!

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This tip, and 337 more survival tips, are in MacWelch’s new book Prepare For Anything. This latest Outdoor Life survival manual is available at Amazon.

Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch  And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.

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