Delicious jerky: make it safe
What is the food safety issue with jerky?
Venison can become heavily contaminated during field dressing. Venison is often held at temperatures that could potentially allow bacteria to grow between 40 to 140 degrees, such as when it is being transported.
All safe methods for making jerky require cooking the meat before placing it in the dehydrator or oven.
Extensive studies have been done on the safest way to make jerky at home. It has been found that the traditional methods did not provide adequate destruction of E. coli: 0157:H7. Illness from Salmonella has also been a concern for homemade jerky.
Directions to safely dry jerky
Two ways to cook meat before drying:
All safe methods for making jerky require cooking the meat before placing it in the dehydrator or oven. The USDA currently recommends that meat be heated to 160° Fahrenheit before dehydrating, in order to destroy organisms that can make us sick.
- One way is to heat strips of meat on a cookie sheet in single layers at 325°F for about 5 minutes. Check the temperature by placing a food thermometer between 2 slices of the meat.
- Another method is to make a brine of ¾ cup salt, ½ cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of spices to a gallon of water. Place about 10 pieces of meat at a time in the boiling brine for 2 minutes.
Directions for making ground meat jerky
- Thaw any frozen ground meat in the refrigerator
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Shape ground meat directly on cookie sheet.
- Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Begin dehydrating immediately after cooking.