Five essential steps can be used to make beef jerky: slicing, marinating, laying, cooking, and packaging.
The general steps for making beef jerky at home are very similar to those used in a factory or commercial kitchen. The procedure is the same whether making homemade or store-bought jerky. The biggest difference is scale and efficiency.
Making beef jerky is a very straightforward process when reduced to its simplest steps. But where things can become challenging are the subtleties and strategies contained within these steps.
The method is the same for fish jerky, turkey jerky, buffalo jerky, and mushroom jerky even though this guide outlines how to make beef jerky.
Initial meat preparation
- 1 Whole muscle or ground beef can be used to make jerky. In both instances, the process of treating the meat to remove the bones and connective tissue is followed by the removal of the fat. There are generally three methods for defatting the meat. In one instance, a sizable centrifuge is used to spin the meat. The spinning motion produced by this apparatus causes the liquid fat particles to separate from the meat. Another technique involves pressing the meat to completely remove the fat. Filtering the meat allows for the removal of fat as well. The meat undergoes additional procedures in addition to deboning and defatting that help remove foreign objects and other undesirable materials. Workers inspect the meat as it moves along a conveyor after being placed on it. The unwanted material can then be removed by shaking it while it’s on a metal screen. Other techniques might include water separation and the use of magnets to remove any metals. Even some plants use x-ray inspection to verify the purity of the meat before use.
Preparing the curing solution
- 2 The curing agent may be prepared while the meat is being processed. Typically, a sizable tank with mixing blades is used for this. Salt, seasonings, and other ingredients are combined with the water once the tank is full. The mixture is heated as necessary until it is prepared for use. It is frequently necessary to mix the materials before use because some of them are not water soluble.
Meat processing and curing
- 3 At this point, the meat can either be frozen and chopped into chunks by a machine that automatically cuts, or it can be ground using a machine that chops bowls. When frozen meat is prepared this way, the natural juices are released as the meat is allowed to partially thaw. The meat can then be dipped in the curing solution. It must be left in for a sufficient amount of time to allow the liquid to completely penetrate, but not too long to run the risk of meat contamination. Another way to cure the meat is to use a multi-needle device to inject it with the curing solution. Then, the prepared meat is sent to a sizable stainless steel tumbling apparatus with additional curing solution. By doing so, the meat is made more tender and the solution is absorbed completely. When using ground meat, the curing solution can be incorporated right into the meat to create a paste that can be used. Although working with ground meat is simpler, the jerky it creates has some unfavorable qualities.
- 4 The meat is seasoned, then shaped into blocks and allowed to cool to a temperature of 18–28° F (–8––-2 2° C). When it is adequately frozen, it is sliced into strips. Preferably, the strips are cut parallel to the meat’s fiber. This gives the finished product a texture that looks more natural. The strips are then placed on wire mesh trays and cooked in drying ovens. Here the meat strips are heated to 160° F (71. 1° C) and gradually cooled to about 90° F (32. 2° C). Cooking can take up to 12 hours, depending on how the meat was initially prepared. During cooking, the moisture in the meat is reduced to 20-40%
- 5 Beef jerky is packaged using a variety of methods. Most jerky is packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag to maintain freshness. One producer places the meat in a triple barrier bag, which is then sealed, evacuated, and filled with nitrogen. By completely eliminating all oxygen from the system, this technique avoids oxidation-related spoilage. Recently, manufacturers have introduced a resealable type package. These bags have a zip lock so they can be closed after being opened, but they are initially vacuum sealed. The individual meat pieces are packaged, placed on pallets, placed in boxes, and then transported by truck to retail establishments.
In any food processing facility, quality control is extremely important. According to government regulations, any raw material that will be used must adhere to a set of minimum standards. Because the consumption of low-quality meat poses a serious health risk, meats in particular are subject to strict regulation. Most businesses will only use premium meat to ensure that their jerky is of a comparable quality. Prior to processing, all initial raw materials are examined for factors like pH, percentage moisture, odor, taste, and appearance.
Regulations also apply to the sanitation practices for the production equipment. Since the beef jerky will be consumed, precautions must be taken to guarantee that it will taste good and be clean. Due to this, tests akin to those conducted on the initial raw materials are carried out on the finished product.
Future advancements in the production of meat jerky are anticipated to occur in a few crucial areas. The creation of novel meat jerky flavors is a significant area of product development. This entails coming up with new recipes and utilizing a variety of meats. Manufacturers will try to find methods of lowering the salt content of the finished product to further promote meat jerky as a nutritious snack. An increasingly continuous process is being developed in the manufacturing sector. These methods should produce a more consistent product in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, environmental concerns should spur the creation of waste-reduction technologies.
Where to Learn More
Bell, Mary. Just Jerky: The Complete Guide to Making It. Dry Store Publishing. 1996.
LeMaguer, M. and T. Jelen, editors. Food Engineering and Process Applications. London: Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, 1986.
Prowse, Brad. Jerky Making: For the Home, Trail, and Campfire. Naturegraph Publishing, 1997.
— Perry Romanowski
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How It’s Made : Beef Jerky
How is beef jerky actually made?
Five essential steps can be used to make beef jerky: slicing, marinating, laying, cooking, and packaging. The general steps for making beef jerky at home are very similar to those used in a factory or commercial kitchen.
How is beef jerky made step by step?
Meat that has been preserved by dehydrating, or removing moisture, at a low temperature for a prolonged period of time is known as jerky. A pound of meat is typically reduced to 4 ounces after drying.
Is jerky just dehydrated meat?
Jerky is a fully cooked product. It is never raw. Of course, merely cooking meat does not preserve it. Because jerky contains so little moisture, it can last for a very long time without going bad.