Remember when I participated in the What’s Your Threat? round robin with a lot of other bloggers a little while ago? Well we’re at it again, only this time everyone is sharing a different way that they preserve foods. I love this, and I love that there are so many different and unique ways to look at food preservation.
This time around, I decided to share with you how we cure and smoke meats, this time specifically focusing on venison jerky. Because jerky is one of my families favorite snacks, our Big Chief Smoker sees a lot of action, all year long. Not only do we smoke jerky in it, we also smoke fish, cheese, and various cuts of beef and pork. We love that smokey flavor!
Making venison jerky is pretty simple and only takes a little planning and preparation. Like most things, the rest of the time is spent just waiting on one step or another to be over so you can move to the next one. Jerky can also be pretty forgiving, so don’t worry about messing it up. I’ll walk you through how our family makes plain and simple pepper jerky, and give you a few other spice options that we also enjoy to get your creative juices flowing.
Peppered Venison Jerky
We use a cure and smoke method with our jerky. First, we cut up the venison into strips and remove any fat, connective tissue, or silver skin. This just helps to ensure that your end product is the best quality that it can be. You don’t want to go to the time and effort of making jerky just to end up with and inferior end result. Then, we add the strips of meat to a cure. To make the cure that we like, we simply mix 1 quart of water, 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt and 1’2 cup sugar together. You can add other seasonings and spices to this, but more on that a little later. I didn’t take a picture of these steps because….well…because I was doing them and I *sort* of forgot. Sorry!!
Let the venison sit in the cure for 12 hours. Then drain the meat and rinse it well. What the cure does is use salt to remove the liquid from the meat and replace it with a saline solution (the cure you mixed up). Next, lay the pieces of meat out on cookie cooling racks. Make cure you leave a little space between the pieces so air can get all around each of them. Let it sit in the refridgerator, overnight, uncovered. This helps to dry off the meat, if it’s still wet when you put it in the smoker, the smoke tends to kind of “slide” off of the jerky. We find that this step takes your jerky from good to great!
Once the meat has sat overnight, it’s time to smoke it. I mentioned before that we use a Big Chief Electric Smoker, so my directions for smoking will be specifically for that make/model. You may need to adjust a bit depending on what smoker you own. For us, we transfer the meat from cooling racks to the racks for the smoker. At this point, you can add additional spices or seasonings to your jerky. For this jerky, we opted to heavily pepper the meat so that we would end up with pepper jerky. You can add whatever you wish.
Place the racks into the smoker and fill your chip pan with whatever wood you’ve chosen to smoke your jerky with. We’re using alder today, but the choice of wood is certainly up to you.
Lightly wet the wood chips and place the filled pan on the electric coil and replace the front of the smoker.
According to our directions, we needed to go through 2 pans of smoke before leaving the jerky in the smoker to finish. When the second pan of chips has been used up, unplug the smoker and let it sit. As soon as the smoker is completely cool and no traces of smoke remain, open it up to check your jerky. It should be completely done. Try out a piece or two before taking the jerky off of the racks and placing it in a container. Don’t cover the jerky until it’s completely cooled, or else it will sweat in whatever container you’ve used and ruin your jerky.
Now, you can vacuum seal it in bags or jars, if you end up having enough left to store 😉
I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peak into how we make jerky and I hope it inspires you to try it, too. Do you like smoked foods? Have you ever used a smoker to preserve foods before?
Here are some more ways to preserve food from a few of my friends. Happy reading!!
Join us as we share different reasons and methods of how we preserve food to create a long-term storage plan for our families. Click on each link to be taken to a new blog with helpful information and tips.
Mom with a PREP – How to Dehydrate Ginger and Make Ginger Powder
Preparedness Mama – Make Jam Without Pectin
Mama Kautz – Dehydrating
Busy B Homemaker – Freezer Jam
Ed That Matters – Anyone Can Do It: Fool Proof Food Storage
The Apartment Prepper – Easy Marinated Mushrooms
The Homesteading Hippy – How to Use Your Pressure Canner
Montana Homesteader – Making and Preserving Cherry Pit Syrup
Are We Crazy or What – How to Dehydrate Cherries
Your Thrive Life – How I Preserve Food: Meals in a Jar
Melissa K Norris – Re-Usable Canning Tattler Lids-Do They Really Work?
Real Food Living – Preserve and Store Grains wiith Dry Ice
Cooke’s Frontier – Smoking
Homestead Dreamer – Water Bath Canning
Evergrowing Farm – How to Preserve Red Chile
Survival Sherpa – Modern Mountain Man MRE’s
The Backyard Pioneer – Fermentation
Trayer Wilderness – How We Preserve Food
Living Life in Rural Iowa – Vegetable Soup
The Organic Prepper – How to Make Jam without using added Pectin
Homesteading Mom – How I Preserve Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup
A Matter of Preparedness – How I Preserve Using Mylar Bags
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