6 Steps To Making Safe Jerky
When making homemade jerky it is really important to follow strict food safety precautions to prevent any foodborne illnesses. The most common bacteria growths in poorly made jerky are Salmonella and E. Coli. These can be deadly, making food safety extremely important when making jerky. By following these steps, you will prevent bacteria growth and have plenty of safe jerky for everyone to enjoy!
1. Clean your kitchen, utensils, bowls, and all other equipment with water and bleach. Also wash your hands with soap before handling any raw meat.
2. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature to prevent bacteria growth.
3. Marinate the meat at a temperature between 36-40°F. Do not marinate at room temperature. Keep meat in the fridge while you mix your marinade together. Bacteria can grow fast on raw meat left out at room temperature. After marinating, do not save and re-use a marinade.
4. At the beginning of dehydrating, heat the jerky to 160° to kill dangerous bacteria. Heating the jerky after dehydrating might not kill all bacteria due to it becoming more heat resistant during the drying process. This is why bringing your jerky to 160º at the start of your jerky making process is recommended by the USDA.
5. Use curing salt to help prevent bacteria from growing. In this age where the craze is only eating Organic Foods, curing salt might not be in your recipes. While I do understand the ‘staying away from preservatives’, be extra careful when not using them when making jerky! When the right amount of curing salt is used, there are no harmful effects that many believe come from using these salts. If you decide not to use curing salts, make sure that you follow the other safety precautions closely. Especially heating the meat to 160º to kill any bacteria and eat the jerky within a couple of days. With that said, I do recommend using cure when making ground meat jerky because the meat has been handled and processed making it more susceptible to having bacteria. So in short… No jerky recipe NEEDS cure as long as the meat is heated to 160F. But it is another line of defense to kill bacteria and allows your jerky to last longer.
6. Store jerky in a cool dry place for up to a week or vacuum seal and freeze for up to 6 months.
That’s it folks! Making jerky is both fun and VERY rewarding. Just make sure to keep in mind these tips on how to keep you and your loved ones safe when making and eating homemade jerky.