Some precautions must be taken when drying meats or making beef jerky to prevent growth of harmful salmonella and E coli bacteria. The meat sciences lab at the University of Colorado has developed and tested this Hot Pickle Cure and found it extremely effective in killing E coli bacteria. Or use the USDA’s preheating method. Both methods are given below.
To further ensure the safety of your meat, keep it frozen or refrigerated until use. If marinating, do so in the refrigerator. Never re-use marinades. Wash all kitchen implements that come into contact with meat (cutting boards, knives, etc) in hot soapy water.
Dried meats and meat jerky can keep 1 to 2 months at room temperature. For added safety and longer storage, keep them in airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Hot Pickle Cure Jerky Recipe
This jerky recipe is courtesy of the meat sciences lab at the University of Colorado:
- Freeze meat slightly to improve slicing quality. Slice 5 pounds of meat into 1/4-inch strips, each approximately 1 inch wide and 5 inches long. Spread pieces out and sprinkle with mixture of 3 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. ground black pepper, and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Press spices into meat with rubber mallet or meat grinder. Turn over and repeat spicing process on other side. Place meat strips in flat pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Make a brine by dissolving 3/4 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. black pepper in 1 gallon of water. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar and bring to a low to medium boil in large kettle. Place a few meat pieces at a time in the bottom of a 2 – 3-quart steamer basket and lower into brine. Simmer 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all pieces are immersed.
- Remove basket from brine, drain and shake to remove excess water. Using tongs, remove meat pieces and place flat, without touching each other, on clean dehydrator trays or oven racks. Repeat process until all meat pieces have been pickled in the brine solution. Note: You will need to replace the brine after several dippings, as the solution begins to foam and produces less desirable results.
- Place pieces in pre-heated dehydrator and be sure it maintains a temperature of 145 degrees F (62.5 degrees C). Dry for 8 – 10 hours, or until pieces reach desired dryness. Remove jerky from dehydrator before it gets too hard or brittle. Properly dried jerky is leathery and chewy; it should crack when bent in half, but it should not break into two pieces. After drying, let pieces cool, then place in open plastic bags or glass jars. Leave bags or jars open overnight to allow pieces to temper, then close and store in a cool dry, dark place, or the refrigerator or freezer.
Source: You and Your Wild Game, 1984 by R.A. Field and C.A. Raab, University of Wyoming Agricultural Extension Service, B-613R, p.58.
Making Meat Jerky Safely With USDA Preheating Method
The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline’s current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before the dehydrating process. After heating to 160 °F or 165 °F, check to be sure your Sunkeep SFD is maintaining a temperature of 130 to 140 °F on the shelf you are using during the drying process. We recommend putting the meat inside the Sunkeep SFD in the morning to be sure you will have the 4 – 6 hours necessary to finish the process.