DRY AGED BEEF JERKY
Jerky: Dry-Aged-Beef as Snack
Drying meat is an ancient form of preservation and was probably already known to cavemen. It is used around the world, from the Alpine mountain farmers to the indigenous people in North America. Whilst dried meat in Europe was almost exclusively found in the gourmet kitchen, it is as popular at home now as is the enthusiasm held for “Beef Jerky” in the United States. The meat snack is available in many forms. The cult around Jerky spilled in recent years to Germany, to the delight of meat lovers. Gone are the days of slick mini sausage snacks. Beef Jerky tastes meaty, authentic – simply better.
What’s inside the dried meat?
Beef Jerky is dried beef that comes in handy small strips. But there are also other lean meats. The “Turkey Jerky” (turkey) enjoys great popularity in the US as well as the “Buffalo Jerky” (buffalo). Also Venison from red deer, fallow deer and mouflon is excellent. Importantly though, it is mainly lean meat that is used. Fat will go rancid and prevents the optimal dry aging process. By the way, many fish species can be dry aged as well. The Portuguese codfish (“Bacalhau”) is a tasty example.
Dried meat is a high quality protein source that contains just 3% carbohydrates. Beef Jerky is, therefore, a healthy snack. It is perfect for athletes and “low carb” diets. Unfortunately, industrially manufactured processes include preservatives, colouring and flavouring substances. These are used to give a natural look and flavour to the meat.
Jerky from Dry-Aged Beef
Good meat is the basis for good Jerky and Dry-Aged Beef Jerky makes a gourmet snack. Dry-Aged beef not only has a more intense flavour, the dry aged meat has less moisture content. This ensures an efficient and faster process. With the DRY AGER meat maturing fridge, you can determine the individual level of maturity of fresh meat and have maximum control over the quality of your Beef Jerky.
Three steps to the perfect Jerky
Whether at the butchers or at home, the top priority in the processing of meat is hygiene. Wear disposable gloves and pay attention to clean working tools and few interruptions.
Step 1: The falvor makes it
Anyone who has picked a good, lean Dry-Aged steak know it is free from tendons, silver skin and high fat content. Before cutting the meat it should be slightly frozen. Then cut strips about 5mm thick and 2cms long with a bread or meat slicer. Now the meat gets its flavour. In a zip bag, the strips are marinated. Whether smoked salt, honey or fruity curry – the personal taste knows no bounds. Mix the strips well in the marinade and leave for at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator (or even better, overnight). The meat should have a grey/black colour after marinating.
Step 2: Drying Technique
Drying is best done in a dehydrator machine. But even a normal household oven is ok. No matter which technique you choose, the meat must be heated for at least five minutes at a core temperature of 72°C at the beginning of the drying process. Only then is it really germ-free and protected against botulism, mould spores and bacteria.
Depending on the device and meat thickness, the process takes between 4-8 hours. Check the consistency at least every hour. This accuracy is necessary. If the Jerky no longer feels moist and soft, it’s ready. The strips of meat must not break when bent. If this happens the meat has been over dried. Allow it to cool down and then let it rest in the freezer bag, to compensate for the moisture.
Drying in the Dehydrator
Most dehydrators are round, recirculation units with an air shaft in the middle. They can be divided into two sizes. With three to five days duration they are small units, both for the private sector as well as for semi-professional applications. Large machines carry up to five kilograms of meat on at least nine shelves. A good dehydrator, whatever the price and size, should have a timer, temperature setting and a high quality ventilation system.
Dry in the oven
Put the meat strips on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. After heating to the core temperature of 72 degrees, the meat dries further at 50 degrees. The drying time is also 4-8 hours. Keep the door of the oven slightly open, to allow for any moisture to escape.
Step 3: Well Packed
After resting, the Jerky should be well packed and stored in a dry, dark and cool place. In zip bags the Jerky lasts at least six months. Vacuum packed, the shelf life is almost doubled. The Jerky pieces will clump together in a vacuum bag, so use a salmon board as an underlay to minimise the contact surface and the Jerky will not stick as much. Or store the dried meat in a beautiful jar.
This is a wonderful gift idea or as a tasty decoration on the picnic blanket. Good quality vacuum sealers for your Jerky (shelf life up to 3 years) can be found at Lava: www.la-va.com