If I seem over-enthusiastic about making jerky, it’s probably because I can’t cook. My attempts have led to small kitchen fires, burnt breakfast pastries and even my Mom’s classic dinner-table comment, “Well, at least we have a good dessert.”
My point is, if I can make jerky, anyone can.
Entire books are written on this subject, and there are many ways to do it well. But there are a few things I wish I’d known when I started. Through trial and error I’ve learned to use a lot of meat, clean it well, cut it consistently, marinade it for just a few hours, and dry it longer than it seems to need.
It takes a lot of deer meat to make a small amount of jerky. Ever heard the saying that our bodies are mostly water? The same is true of deer. Ten pounds of venison becomes about two pounds of jerky after drying. So set aside plenty of meat if you plan to share. It’s amazing how quickly your jerky will disappear. People love this stuff.
The cleaner your meat, the better your jerky will taste. Remove the whitish membrane, or ‘silver seam’, from the outside of the meat, as well as all the gristle and sinew that you can cut off. If you don’t plan to make jerky right away, wrap the meat tightly in butcher paper and freeze it, then move it to the refrigerator a couple of days before you’re ready to begin. Meat that is still partially frozen is far easier to cut than completely thawed meat.
(For the rest of the story, check out this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.)