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Jerky – More Than Just a Snack

Talked to my son the other day and he told me of how he and his wife were using jerky in other recipes.  Have to say that never crossed my mind – but after doing some searching found out that jerky can be used in many different recipes with many different types of dishes.

For some recipes the jerky was chopped to the consistency of bacon bits; other called for larger ‘bite-sized’ pieces.  How you were going to use it would determine the size.  Smaller pieces when used as a topper, larger pieces when used in a recipe where the jerky can be re-hydrated.

Some of the recipes we found for using jerky as an ingredient included:

  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Cornbread
  • Pasta Salads
  • Added into dips
  • Eggs
  • Sauces
  • As a topper for baked potatoes

To get you started, here are a few recipes we found on the Internet that sounded pretty good.

Beef Jerky with Eggs (Machacado con huevo) –   Get recipe here

Jerky Tomato Sauce –  Get recipe here

Ramen Noodle Dinner – Get recipe here

Fried Rice with Jerky – Get recipe here

Jerky Stew  – Get recipe here

 

Homemade Jerky – What’s New?

Making homemade jerky is pretty  basic in equipment and process.   However, sometimes there are new and different products that can make the process easier or better.

The following 5 products are some items we found interesting in making homemade jerky. We thought that the screens for smoking jerky on the BBQ or in the smoker might prove to be useful since it’s difficult to lay strips or sticks directly onto the grill itself. They tend to fall through.   (Read about making jerky on a grill or in the smoker.)

The jerky stick kit would be great for those who want to try their hand at making homemade jerky without investing a lot of $$$$ and then finding out – WHOA !!! Not my cup of tea!

And for those who want to take their skills to the next level, the sausage / cure book is just what you need for great sausage recipes and to learn more about the elusive ‘cure’.

 

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Jerky vs. Freeze-Dried

Jerky is a great food for having on hand – survival and otherwise – since it can be home made from just about any lean meat - domestic or wild.   Once it has been processed using a dehydrator, smoker or home oven, it can be vacuum sealed, stored and even frozen. Typically you can count on keeping correctly processed jerky for 1-2 months in the freezer  or 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. However, if you are looking for food with  a much longer shelf life consider freeze-dried foods.

 

Like jerky, freeze dried foods are dehydrated, however there are some differences:

 

jerkyvsfreezedried

 

 

 

The heat (or smoke) used when making jerky removes most of the moisture (water) through a slow drying process, unlike the food items being freeze-dried where the moisture is sublimated over a period of time. [1]

To explain the process briefly, the item to be freeze-dried is first frozen, then the surrounding pressure is reduced allowing the frozen water in the item to sublimate  from its solid form to gaseous form. This process can take up to a week or more. This leaves a dehydrated form of the food. Not all foods can be freeze-dried, i.e., breads, cake, etc. [2]

 

jerkyvsfreezedried2

 

Depending on the nature of the food, some freeze-dried food items can be stored up to 25 years – no refrigeration necessary. When you’re ready to use them, the process to make them edible is as easy as adding hot water and waiting  a few minutes for the food to re-hydrate. Some foods don’t require hydration and can be eaten directly from the package, i.e., fruits.

It is possible to freeze-dry your own food at home, however, if you want  large quantities on hand for the future, it would probably be easier and safer to purchase ready packaged freeze-dried foods. Our favorite freeze-dried food is by Mountain Home.

Mountain Home offers a wide variety of meats, desserts, and side dishes.  Our favorite is the lasagna –  but they all taste really great.  For those who want to try freeze-drying their own food, visit this link  for a brief introduction to the process.

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeze-drying

[2] http://www.wikihow.com/Freeze-Dry