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Off-the-Shelf Seasonings

As promised, we’re taking a look at some OTS (off-the-shelf) flavors you can use when making jerky at home that you may not have thought of. Best part, you probably already have some of them.

  • Liquid Smoke
  • Teriyaki Sauce or Marinade
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Szechuan Seasoning Mix (packaged)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Powder
  • Any flavored steak or BBQ sauce

These flavor enhancers can be used with either strips where you would marinate the meat or they can be mixed into the ground meat to be used in your jerky gun.

Note:  If using one of these flavor ingredients or a combination of them,  Morton Tender Quick  should be included as part of recipe for the cure.    The standard ratio of Morton Tender Quick  to meat is 1 tablespoon per 1 pound of meat.

To help you get started, we’ve placed a few  recipes below. [1]

OTS_spices

 

Hot & Spicy Szechuan Jerky

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground venison (buffalo would be a good substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon Morton Tender Quick
  • 1 package hot and spicy Szechuan seasoning mix (3/4 oz.)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Directions

  1. Add the Szechwan spice mix and Morton Tender Quick  to the meat and mix well.
  2. Sprinkle soy sauce over the meat and blend.
  3. Use a jerky gun to extrude the meat into sticks and dry per dehydrator directions.

Chili Sticks

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground meat   (beef, buffalo, venison)
  • 1 tablespoon Morton Tender Quick
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

Note:  This one can be made hotter by increasing the amount of chili powder and ground red pepper. 

Directions

  1. Blend dry spices and mix into meat. It should be well blended in.
  2. Use a jerky gun to extrude the meat into sticks and dry per dehydrator directions.

 

OTS_sauces1

 

Easy Oven Jerky

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. venison steak sliced into thin strips (or beef, buffalo)
  • Morton Sugar Cure  (plain)
  • Sauce – this can be your favorite steak sauce, BBQ sauce, liquid smoke or any other flavored sauce, i.e., sweet and sour

Directions

  1. Rub the Morton Sugar Cure  onto all sides of the strips and place on racks in an oven with door slightly ajar.
  2. Set oven temperature to 200 degrees F and dry until internal temperature is 165 degrees F.
  3. When the jerky is almost dry, remove and brush both sides with your favorite sauce. (If using liquid smoke, only brush one side as it can become over-powering)
  4. Return jerky to the oven until jerky is dry and the sauce coating is well set.

 

[1] The Complete Jerky Book, M. Burch

 

 

Dry Rub – Not Just for BBQ

In past we’ve taken a look at the most common ways to ‘flavor’ your jerky including wet marinating (strips) and adding seasonings to ground meat for stick or extruded jerky. However, there is another way to season your jerky meat and that is by using a dry rub.  This would only apply to portions of meat that are to be sliced or have already been sliced.

A dry rub cure typically consists of using the dry ingredients sprinkled on to the meat – all sides, and then rubbing it in . . .   wearing a glove will help keep your hands clean.  The dry ingredients are then allowed time to meld with the meat.

Like marinating, once the dry rub has been applied, seal the meat in an air tight container or zip-bag and allow to cure for a minimum of one (1) hour. When you are ready to begin the drying process, rinse the meat under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.  The meat is now ready to be dried either in the oven or using a dehydrator following  manufacturer’s directions.

Most of the recipes we’ve seen for a dry rub are very simple.   One that would be easy to prepare at home is below.

Salt Jerky

  • 2 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick mix OR Morton Sugar Cure mix
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Note: It is a good idea to mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl before applying to the meat.  Doing so ensures that they are well mixed and you won’t have any ‘hot spots’. 

Salt Cures:  What’s the Difference?

Below are three (3) of the top cures available on Amazon.  We’ve included a brief look at the differences and uses.  For more information, please visit the link and see what others are saying.

Morton Tender Quick – 4+ Stars  . . .   A salt product with sodium nitrate  (.05%) and sodium nitrite (.05%)  for preservatives.    For a wet marinade, per Amazon question/answer – 1 cup per 5 lbs. of meat.

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Morton Sugar Cure – 4 Stars . . . This mix is formulated for dry or sweet pickle curing of meat, poultry, game, salmon, shad, and sablefish. It is primarily used for dry curing hams and bacon.   If you plan on making  jerky using this product, you may want to read some of the questions on the Smoking Forum.

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Hoosier Hill Farm Prague Pink Curing Salt – 5 Stars   . . .  Hoosier Hill Curing Salt (1 lb.) contains enough salt to cure 100 lbs. of meat and is sometimes referred to as the ‘tinted cure’. According to questions asked on Amazon, you would use 1 teaspoon of product for 5 lbs. of meat.  Use of this product will give the meat a pinkish tint.

 

 

Next post we’re taking a look at some different ways to flavor your jerky using common OTS (off-the-shelf) seasonings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not All Woods Are Safe for Smoking

The new year is here and we’re looking for a way to save a few dollars. One way is to make your homemade jerky using the ‘smoke’ method using wood from a tree you’ve cut down or gathered from the woods. Great idea, right? Not necessarily.  Did you know that not all woods are safe to use for smoking? Some of them contain poisonous toxins or give off pitch.

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HardwoodTrees

Hardwoods

We’re all familiar with the basic BBQ and smoking woods:

  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Mesquite

These woods all impart a great flavor and are – in most cases – readily available to gather yourself or purchase from a retailer. If you are gathering from the woods, watch for rotten, moldy wood or wood that has a fungus on it. You don’t want to use wood with those issues as they could possibly transfer to the meat.

Re taste: I’ve read where some people even remove the bark from the wood they use when BBQ-ing or smoking in order to get a milder flavor.

FruitTrees

Fruit Trees

Any fruit tree – and we’re going to include pecan trees here – can be used for smoking. These trees would include:

  • Pecan
  • Pear
  • Apple
  • Peach
  • Cherry, etc.

So if you are chopping down a fruit tree, save the wood – it is great for smoking.   Don’t forget to store it in a dry place off the ground.

 

DangerousTrees

 

Dangerous Woods

One might ask, ‘Why?” use these  when there are so many other woods available that we know are safe.   Maybe, like us, you didn’t know they were dangerous.

The trees that you want to stay away from when smoking are:

  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Fir
  • Black Walnut

While we’ve read that some of these woods are used in certain European countries for smoking (spruce and fir),  it is much better to stay safe and use the preferred woods listed above.

Most know that pine – and pine cones – contain resin resulting in too much pitch/black smoke. Know I wouldn’t want to eat that. But more dangerous than that is using the wood of the black walnut tree. We’ve placed a quote below taken from the ‘Smoking Forum’ – scary stuff.

The black walnut tree contains a poisonous toxin known as juglone. The tree naturally uses this toxin to compete against other nearby trees or plants for needed soil, water and sunlight. However, it can harm horses and dogs and may even kill them. Poisoning can occur when black walnut wood shavings are included in the bedding of these animals. For humans, black walnut wood and sawdust is sometimes known to cause allergies and asthma. Anyone handling and working with this wood should always use gloves and a dust mask. [1]

We discovered this when we had a black walnut tree die and thought we’d found an endless supply of BBQ wood. Thankfully, we decided to check on it before using. Glad we looked it up. Could have been a real problem. To that end, if in doubt about any wood  – don’t use it.

If you are looking for wood chips for smoking (or BBQ) check out the list of wood chips – specialty and traditional here:   Amazon: Best wood chips for smoking jerky.   Great variety & very affordable!

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/104552/black-walnut-for-smoking-and-grilling