Methods for the Jerky (Cooking/ Drying)

Cooking and Drying Methods for Beef Jerky

The two methods used for finishing jerky of any kind cooking and drying are used in different ways to produce a wide variety of different flavors, textures and consistencies. Drying predates cooking, at least in its modern form, because drying meat at its simplest level required only the most readily available source of heat: the sun. Other forms of drying have been developed that focus on shade drying. These adiabatic methods are still used in many locales in the drying of fruits. Jerky cooking began to rival more traditional drying methods when modern technology and access to electricity blossomed in the twentieth century. Today, both methods present their own unique approaches for the aspiring jerky cooker.

Cooking Beef Jerky

Regardless of the beef jerky recipe or jerky spices one uses, cooking jerky provides a safe, easy and convenient way to produce jerky that is sure to please. This is most often done in the conventional kitchen oven and employs temperatures around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Because this temperature setting is higher than the one used for drying jerky, the cooking process is quicker and produces a final product that is chewier than that achieved through traditional drying methods.

Cooking jerky as opposed to drying or smoking jerky is a smart choice when one wishes to make jerky from poultry of fish. Because poultry and fish are so prone to spoilage if they are not used promptly, higher temperatures are needed to ensure their safety for consumption. Cooking at higher temperatures ensures that this concern does not become a problem.

Drying and Smoking Beef Jerky

Drying beef jerky is conducted at a much lower temperature than is cooking beef jerky. Consequently, drying jerky takes considerably more time than cooking jerky. A drying temperature of 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit over an extended period of time produces a finished jerky that is hard and flavorful. Jerky that is dried correctly should crack slightly without breaking when bent. Food dehydrators tend to work best for the purpose of drying jerky. Combining a source of heat with a device to facilitate air flow, food dehydrators allow the pieces of jerky to hang or rest on racks as they dry.

Smoking jerky is another, less frequently employed way of preparing jerky. Because it is only feasible if one has access to a smokehouse, this method of creating smoked meat is generally left to professionals. Although smoking jerky presents its own challenges, it is capable of creating an authentic hickory smoked flavor that is second to none.

Source: Gary Rangland

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