You were patient and scored that buck you’d seen on your game cam all spring and summer, and after taking those commemorative photos, you begin to wonder: What am I going to do with all this meat? You could slice it up and make venison steaks like everyone does, but why not get a little creative and try something new? Spice things up and try your hand at making some jerky! It’s perfect for snacking and munching, and you could use a variety of cures and seasonings to make each batch a unique flavor sensation. If these descriptions have piqued your interest, or if you’re a dehydrating aficionado, then you’re in luck, because we have the best brands of dehydrators that are on the market, along with an array of tips and tricks that can get any newcomer started on the path to make delicious jerky.
For the newbie to the dehydrating game or seeking a simple start, this sleek Chard Dehydrator is perfect for you. Its rectangular tray design gives you more drying surface area, and those five trays are specifically designed with the airflow system in mind, so you don’t need to rotate them. The built-in digital controls and timer ensure precise dehydrating every time. The price for this awesome product is $89.99, so it’s a great value. If you don’t want to mess around with complicated methods for your food, then definitely give this bad boy a shot.
If you want to be able to choose your size and power in your dehydrator, then Nesco has just the one for you! Their food dehydrator comes with three options: 400, 500, or 1000 watts of power. Each one comes with a standard 4 trays, but if you desire more, you can purchase Add-a-tray accessories to expand the size, but they each have a limit on how many additional trays can be added. The Nesco dehydrator has a Converga-Flow drying system that allows even drying, without tray rotation, in just a matter of hours. It is fast, easy, economical, and the 1000 watt system even comes with a fruit roll sheet, clean-a-screen, and their original jerky spice and cure, so you are definitely getting your money’s worth! The 400 watt dehydrator is $41.99, the 500 watt is $64.99, and the 1000 watt is $125.99. Try it for yourself, and see why it is called a Pro.
One of the more intricate dehydrators available, and one of the best, would be this one by LEM! What makes it special is the rear mounted fan, so none of the juices from the meat will drip onto the blades. There is also a heat trapping door that allows you to remove trays without worrying about the loss of drying efficiency. All drying is quick and precise, thanks to the digital timer that ensures accurate temperature, which can be altered between 85-155 degrees Fahrenheit. The five trays are 15” each, and allow 360 degree rotation. This product is available at your local Runnings store. If you want the best possible jerky, then splurge a little on this high tech treasure.
Tips and Tricks for the Dehydrating Newcomer:
- Remember that food safety begins when the deer hits the ground. Make sure to keep your meat free of contamination as much as you can, which includes when you begin to cook it.
- To eliminate bacteria growth, make sure to remove moisture from the meat and freeze it first, then thaw in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use it. *Note: Jerky freezes really well!
- High quality cuts of meat are always the best choice. Keep it clean of silverskin and tendons, and use lean cuts. The lean, intact muscle tissue turns into better jerky than fatty tissue that is hard to chew and spoils easily in the refrigerator.
- When you begin to cut the venison, slice the meat against the grain into thin strips, about a half an inch thick, and keep any extra meat in a safe container.
- You can always make whole muscle jerky, but if you would like to try ground meat, then cut your strips into manageable pieces, then run them through your grinder. Afterwards, you can mix the meat with your seasoning and cure, and then run it through the grinder again for a more even mixture.
- When you have your mixture of properly seasoned meat, use a jerky gun to create the strips to put into the dehydrator. Make sure to leave room on the tray for the strips to breathe, and move fast when using the gun to avoid air drying.
- You will know when your jerky is done when you can bend it and it’s still soft, and it cracks without completely breaking.
- Essential ingredients for the perfect jerky mixture would be: cure, seasoning, or spices; salt; and liquid smoke. If you want extra mixture recipes, check out Leaf.tv or Wideopenspaces.com.
Don’t let the lack of butchering knowledge prevent you from hitting the tree stand! Runnings is here to help during the entire process. Don’t let all that meat go to waste! Be sure to check out Runnings.com for many other helpful food processing items. Your stomach and wallet will be happier than ever before.