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The Roving Sportsman… Makin’ Jerky

There are an amazing number of ways that you can use venison for breakfast, lunch, or dinner menus, and when it comes to snacks, using venison to make jerky tops the list. Venison jerky is popular among all ages, and it is as easy to make as 1-2-3-4.

That is slice – marinade – dehydrate – and vacuum pack! In each of these steps, you can vary the process according to your particular taste.

Hindquarters, shoulders, and neck meat are ideal for making jerky. While a commercial slicer will yield uniform cuts, it is simple to use a butcher knife and slice the meat into 1/8 to 3/16-inch pieces that can vary from bite-size slabs to larger pieces for easier packaging. When slicing the meat, it is best to completely chill the meat or even wait until it is partially frozen.

This is the step that has a lot of options. Numerous companies have a long list of choices when it comes to seasonings and marinades for game meats such as venison.

New Primal liquid marinades include The Classic, Citrus Herb, Classic BBQ, Mustard BBQ, Smoky BBQ, Hot & Spicy, and Soy-Free Teriyaki. Let your taste buds guide you as to which one to try first.

Place the meat slices in a zip-loc bag and add the marinade; refrigerate for 24-48 hours, frequently moving the bag around to make sure the marinade is equally covering all of the pieces.

Hi Mountain Jerky Cure & Seasoning Packs of dry mix include The Original Blend, Hickory Blend, Pepper Blend, Sweet & Spicy Blend, Cracked Pepper & Garlic Blend, Mandarin Teriyaki Blend, Mesquite Blend, Hunter’s Blend, Inferno Blend, Cajun Blend, Bourbon BBQ Blend, Jalapeno Blend, and Pepperoni Blend.

That’s enough variety to satisfy anyone’s taste!

Cabela’s even has its own brand of Jerky Making Kit called the Ultimate Pack.

The Hi Mountain and Cabela’s products are all dry mixes for the marinating stage of making jerky. Follow the directions on the package to complete the marinade process.

A commercial or stand-alone dehydrator is ideal for this step, but your existing oven is also very effective in the dehydrating process.

Follow the temperature and timing instructions included with your dehydrator. Generally, the process should take about 4 – 6 hours at a low temperature.

You can vary the time somewhat to satisfy your preference of just how tender you want the end product to be.
Vacuum Pack:

Using a vacuum packing machine is the best way to safely store the pieces of venison jerky, and if you are not going to use it right away, it would also be advisable to go ahead and freeze the packs for later use.

If you are going to consume some of the jerky in the next week or two, using a zip-loc bag and placing it in the refrigerator will suffice.

There is an option to slice the venison into strips, and that is to use venison burger in the process of making jerky. Jerky “guns” are designed like the painter’s caulking gun to make venison sticks of marinated burgers that can then be dehydrated and vacuum-packed, just like the strips of sliced meat.

Making jerky using the above process is a fun and rewarding experience, but if it all seems too cumbersome to do, look for a local butcher who processes venison and just might include jerky as one of his offerings.

The Stoltzfus Butcher Shop outside of Mill Hall is one such place, and they offer several flavors of jerky made with venison.

If you haven’t done so already, try making venison jerky, and I think you will be glad that you did!