View Full Version : Food Safety - Jerky

05-24-2008, 06:33 PM
Like many of you, I've been making jerky for years. I've fixed up beef jerky, venison jerky, salmon jerky, and tuna jerky. I've experimented with countless marinades and spices, and have used both dehydrators and low heat oven methods. I've tried vacuum sealing, zip-lock bags, plastic containers, jars, garlic salt packing, and refrigeration to preserve the end product.

The results have been mixed.

My best results (taste wise) was with beef jerky with a marinade of low sodium soy sauce, whiskey, garlic, onion, pepper, and brown sugar. Venison jerkey using this marinade came in 2nd. place. For salmon and tuna I've used regular soy sauce (sodium levels be damned) and it never came out as good as the pre-packaged foil-wrapped smoked salmon you can get almost anywhere.

(An ex-girlfriend told me that one of the things she missed about me most was my cooking and especially my beef jerky.:o I state this only to boast :D about how tasty my jerky is - this is NOT an invitation for comments about any of my other abilities, because she said she missed those too.:D)

The low heat oven method seemed to work better for me than the dehydrator, which I think was loaned out never to be seen again.

Not surprisingly, the stuff lasted longest when vacuum sealed and stored in the refrigerator, but that batch was only intended for home midnight snacks anyway, and refrigeration does defeat some of the purpose of making jerky in the first place.

Salting the final product, especially the fish, extended shelf life, but the jerky had to be rinsed off (sometimes soaked) before it was fit for human consumption.

Food safety has always been a concern no matter which method I've used. Even if it looked, smelled, and tasted fine, I've never eaten salmon or tuna jerky that was over three weeks old, venison at about six weeks, and beef about three months.

Being kinda' new to the forum, I'm not sure if this link has ever been posted here (probably has, and if so, sorry about that - but I searched a bit and couldn't find it) but it does give some good food safety tips for making jerky:


05-24-2008, 06:48 PM
Good post, Ken and a good link. I don't recall any posts about the safety of jerky. I've never pre-cooked my beef to make jerky. I may have to reconsider that. I suppose if you went through the whole process and then pre-cooked the strips of meat would come to 160F much faster than the intact flank. And you wouldn't loose the ability to slice it semi-frozen making slicing a lot easier.

I might try that on the next batch. When it's ready to dehydrate I may turn the oven to 160F and bring the strips up to temp then turn the oven back down to make jerky.


05-24-2008, 07:02 PM
never knew jerky had a certain time to be eaten with in i thought it was suppose to last for 6-10 months

Sam Reeves
05-24-2008, 07:05 PM
never knew jerky had a certain time to be eaten with in i thought it was suppose to last for 6-10 months

Me too! :eek:

05-24-2008, 08:08 PM
I'm still eating last years jerky, and my wife is putting it in the kids lunch everyday to rid it.

Salt curing and smoking makes my jerky last at least a year or so.

Sam Reeves
05-24-2008, 08:11 PM
Ken- You mentioned soaking the jerking to remove the salt. Wouldn't that ruin it? :confused:

05-24-2008, 08:23 PM
Ken- You mentioned soaking the jerking to remove the salt. Wouldn't that ruin it? :confused:

Sam, I only do this to the jerky that I've packed in garlic salt as a preservative, mostly salmon and tuna. Sometimes, you can just brush the excess salt off, other times, a quick rinse and a blot with a paper towel does the trick. With the salmon and tuna, I found that the garlic salt always caked on so much that it had to be rinsed or soaked for a few minutes and then blotted dry. Otherwise, it was like eating a mouthful of pure garlic salt. It was still good after rinsing or brief soaking.

In my area, you find a lot of dried salted cod in the markets, and a lot of menu offerings in restaurants which use dried salted cod. It's an ethnic thing. When using salted cod at home, I often have to soak it with several changes of water for a few hours before using it for cooking. Sometimes, even after a good 10 minute soak, it has the texture/consistency/liquid content of jerky. I'll post some dried salted cod recipies if anyone wants them.:)

Gray Wolf
05-29-2008, 09:11 PM
Here's a "cool" way to make some jerky,

Beef Jerky

1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Special Equipment: 1 box fan, 4 paper air-conditioning filters, and 2 bungee cords

Trim the flank steak of any excess fat, place in a zip-top bag, and place it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours in order to firm up.

Remove the steak from the freezer and thinly slice the meat with the grain, into long strips.

Place the strips of meat along with all of the remaining ingredients into a large, 1-gallon plastic zip-top bag and move around to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. Place the bag into the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours.

Remove the meat from the brine and pat dry. Evenly distribute the strips of meat onto 3 of the air filters, laying them in the grooves and then stacking the filters on top of one another. Top these with 1 empty filter. Next, lay the box fan on its side and lay the filters on top of it. Strap the filters to the fan with 2 bungee cords. Stand the fan upright, plug in and set to medium. Allow the meat dry for 8 to 12 hours.

Once dry, store in a cool dry place, in an airtight container for 2 to 3 months.

05-30-2008, 12:56 AM
I don't know about pre-cooking. My grandfather used to say you could never get sick from uncooked meat - it was cooked meat you had to watch out for.

I smoke my venison jerky using apple wood. I don't marinade it. I don't salt it. Best tasting jerky ever. If I want to keep it, I smoke it dry as ashes. I put it in a canvas bag and hang it in the summer kitchen. After about five years it starts to bleach out. It is still edible, but I'd imagine the food value is a ways down there. As long as it stays dry - no problems.