Making Safe Jerky at Home
Jerky is great for hikers, after school snacks and hurricane kits but only when it is safe. Many hunters use their meat to make jerky. Or, it is a great way to take advantage of grocery store specials. And you can make them all at home. Be careful when making jerky and follow USDA guidelines to prevent getting sick. Food safety rules have changed and say to preheat the meat to be sure bacteria is killed. This is a very important step because people have died when the warm heat of the dehydrator grew bacteria to toxic levels.
Preheat meats before drying them
In Florida it is important to use a dehydrator or oven to dehydrate meat. We don’t use ovens for fruits and vegetables. The high temperature cooks the surface of the fruit and traps moisture inside. But with meat, we need the higher temperature. Heat the meat quickly to 160 °F for beef and pork and 165°F. for poultry and most wild game. After it has been heated, it can be dried between 130° to 140° F.
Avoid solar dehydrators
Solar dehydrators are not recommended in Florida. It is too humid here. It is also hard to control the temperature and keep it steady. If the food does not dry fast enough, it can spoil and grow mold.
Marinades add flavor to jerky
Marinades are great for adding flavor. But do not rely on them for food safety. High amounts of acid and salt added to marinades and rubs may help keep the jerky safe. But they do not guarantee it will be safe. So be careful with internet recipes that say to use marinade as a safety step. Meats should be marinated in the refrigerator. If you use rubs, keep the meat in an airtight container or wrap and keep it in the refrigerator. It is okay to cook in the marinade to make it hot enough to put in the dehydrator. But always throw out all marinade even if it was heated.
Read more at USDA approved sites:
General information https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/jerky.html or https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/jerky-and-food-safety/CT_Index
Be sure information comes from a USDA or University site before following their recommendations.