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Thread: Is primitive jerky (dried) safe?

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    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    Default Is primitive jerky (dried) safe?

    Is primitive jerky that's smoked over a fire or air dried safe to eat? What would kill the worms, parasites, and bacteria?


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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I have stored jerky for six months and I'm still here to tell the tale. It's important to heat the meat to 160F before drying it. If you heat the meat to 160F you destroy the pathogens on the meat. Heating to around 130F (dehydrator or oven method) you just remove the water, which can leave bacteria present in the meat. But smoking has been done for thousands of years so yes it's safe. Air drying is going to be dependent on the ambient temperature for drying to be successful. You have to be able to dry the meat before it spoils. Trying to dry it in cool or wet weather won't allow that to occur.

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    Have to agree with Rick here. I have never air dried my jerky. Always use my smoker where I can get the temp up to close to 200 degrees while drying mine. Remember you can use the wifes kitchen stove the same way less the smoke. I've been told it works well. When you get the meat temp up to 160 it's cooked so should have no problems.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandyRhoads View Post
    Is primitive jerky that's smoked over a fire or air dried safe to eat? What would kill the worms, parasites, and bacteria?
    How primitive are you talking?
    100 years?....1000 years?
    Oh, you just mean primitive methods?
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    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    Yeah sorry just the method for making it. I'm worried i'd like to make some but how can you be sure you've got it to 160? A temp gun? I have a big chief smoker but I think that only goes to 140, and I was wanting to make it outside replicating how it would need to be done in a primitive situation.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I have a Polder digital thermometer that let's me monitor the temperature of the oven/smoker as well as the internal temp of the meat. If you are in a survival situation you are probably not going to smoke/dry anything. If you do happen to capture some meat via snare or trap you'll want to cook it over a fire to make certain it's safe to eat rather than take several hours and your energy to construct some type of smoker or hang it out to dry where it could attract other predators.

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    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    Not looking so much at survival. More like primitive homesteading maybe. And say you shot a moose, would you still cook all that up or try to make it so you can store it?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Mea Culpa. I thought you were talking survival. Homesteading would be different.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I have made primitive jerky many times as demonstration at historic sites and in skills workshops.

    First, jerk is not cooked, it is dried and smoked. You never let the meat get hot enough to cook or you defeat the purpose. 160 degrees has distroyed the preservation of the meat and set up a whole different set of baceria to work against.

    Jerk has been a staple preservation method since the first human found out the meat he laid on a rock untill it dried out did not kill him. Probably since he ran the first lion off a dead sun dried carcass.

    Quit turning up your nose, you eat rare steak and have to pour the blood off half way through! I have seen it too many times to even pay attention to the parisites and diseases issue in a jerky discussion. If it does not count at the steakhouse it does not count over the campfire.

    The drying and smoking cures the meat and the smoke is partly done to keep flies away from the meat as well as add flavor.

    It does take all day to jerk meat. Slice it as thin as possible and salt it if you have salt. Place it on a rack or grid well above the heat of the fire and use wood that produces generous smoke. I like to have the grid about 2 feet above the fire and I keep the flames down to a minimum by using punkwood or wet bark as my main fuel. If the fire under the meat is so hot it hurts my hand it is too hot.

    As it dries on one side and becomes brittle, turn it over and continue. When the meat is black and breaks in shreads when bent it is ready.

    No it will not look like what you get at the corner store.

    You can only jerk meats with low fat content, mostly from ungulates. Fish works very well. Pork, bear or rodents can not be jerked. this counts out rabbit jerky, sorry.

    Randy, if you PM me I will get you some references and better instructions.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 02-15-2012 at 03:02 PM.
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    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUK3kTHPblc I was going off this and other similar ways. This guy did it almost straight outa the Tom Brown book. I get how to do it just not what makes the bugs/eggs safe to eat. Why would rabbit be out, it's extremely low in fat?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KY
    160 degrees has distroyed the preservation of the meat and set up a whole different set of baceria to work against.
    That's nonsense. I make jerky all the time and and heat it to 160. It does not destroy the preservation of the meat. And you cannot set up a whole different set of bacteria since 160F kills all bacteria.

    "What temperature is needed to kill bacteria in meats and poultry?

    When meat is cooked to 160F,E. coli O157 and other pathogens are killed.

    http://foodsafety.wsu.edu/consumers/faq3.htm

    Further sources:

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/...fety/index.asp

    Smoking is a different means of preservation than drying. Hot smoking (using a fire source) actually cooks the meat. Cold smoking is done over low heat and over a long period of time. Cold smoking should only be used when meat has been fermented, salted or cured. Otherwise, you run the risk that bacteria will grow on the meat.

    http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nc..._postproc.html

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    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    Great info thanks Rick!

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    Well, I can tell you Alton Brown doesn't cook his jerky! He lays the meat strips on furnace filters and sets them atop a box fan with no heat at all. One thing we tend to forget with bacteria is that they need water to live and reproduce. Once to desiccate them they can't do much (at least the worst pathogens). This is water we refer to when we mention AWG (water activity). It's the reason that you can keep rice on the shelf in a cool dry place for years while a loaf of bread will mold. Salt also inhibits bacteria, as does acidity. Most jerky marinades are very salty, and that gives you two things (along with removing water) that kill the bugs.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    In the second link I posted above it says...

    "Marinating meat doesn't make raw meat safe. "Marination alone did not result in significant reduction of the pathogen compared with whole beef slices that were not marinated," concluded the study."

    Ya'll can do what you want. I've followed the advice of the links above and have yet to suffer a food borne illness with making jerky. I'm of the, "better safe than sorry" clan than lives two hollows over.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Rick acording to your "government sources" there is no such thing as jerky that does not need refregeration! This is why the meat must not go up to "cooking temp". The dehydratiuon removes the water needed for bacteria growth, the cooking counters that process and sets up the need for refregeration. Cooked food must be refregerated, dried meat will stay usabe for over a year, fruits 3 years and veggies up to 5 years. Even my commercial food dehydrator does not get up to 140 degrees.

    I am a bit aprenhensive about taking food preservation advice from the folks that do not want amnyone preserving food long term to start with. Their temperature limit is a blatent untruth.

    I hate to argeue with such renouned sources but in this case I know they are dead wrong. These are the same folk that give us $18,000 worth of safety equipment on a $20,000 car!

    None of the primitive cultures had any equipment to detirmine the temp of their drying process, yet they used drying for thousands of years with good results, often with no fire anywhere near the drying racks, espically when drying fish on an industrial scale. I have made jerky dozens of times without "cooking" the meat and it has been successful on each attempt with no food poisioning or illness. I have fed whole museum staffs on occasion and never had a problem.

    Again I stress that "raw meat" is eaten on a regular basis (sushi, rare steak, steak tartar), on purpose, yet each time the subject of jerky comes up this "cook the meat" argument is thrown about like it was a valid consideration by the same folk that will eat bugs and grubs to prove their point. and the "prepared by trained professionals" argument is a crock. At the local resterants the buss boys take turns slicing the fish.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    If you wish to argue with multiple sources....so be it. My "cooked" jerky lasts at least six months because I've tested it that long. A lot of folks on here make jerky in the oven at the lowest setting, which on most is 150F IF the thermostat is correct. My oven runs a little hotter so by separate oven thermometer I know my lowest setting is 175F. As I said, do what you want. I'm a fully paid member of the "better safe than sorry" clan.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    It's been my experience that homemade jerky has a shelf life of about a week.......well.......at least there were no specimens to test after a week.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I thought it was to eat today....have no referance to it lasting any length of time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    It's been my experience that homemade jerky has a shelf life of about a week.......well.......at least there were no specimens to test after a week.
    This has been my experience as well. I devestate my supply plenty on my own, but the kids are like wolves on raw meat. Even my hiding places have been compromised.

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    Senior Member wholsomback's Avatar
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    Properly jerking the meat is the main step to prohibit the growth of bacteria and smoking keeps bugs away and enhances flavor,black pepper in the old days was also a way to keep alot of the animals out of it.I make 5 pounds of venison jerky and the kids have it gone in a week,my problem too I never get enough,they have all my hiding places too.

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