Camper's Classic Jerky Marinade

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Making jerkymeat, poultry, or fishis an uncomplicated three-step process:

1. Thinly slice meat.
2. Marinate for a few hours.
3. Place in dehydrator (or oven) until dry.

Use low-fat cuts of meat, fish, or poultry. Lamb and fresh pork are too fatty; venison and elk make excellent jerky.

The marinades described here are of two types: dry-cure and wet. Use a glass, plastic, stoneware or stainless steel container for your marinade. You need a certain amount of salt to guard against spoilage, but too much makes the meat inedible. I tried some old-time recipes using heavily salted brines, and the results were terrible. Liquid smoke added to marinades imparts a pleasing smoked taste to dried meats, poultry, and fish; it can be found in supermarkets. Use it sparingly! It's awfully strong, and you should use less for fish than for beef. Cover the marinade dish tightly, or your refrigerator will smell like liquid smoke for days.

Follow the guidelines for drying other foods: Cut into uniform sizes, and don't crowd in the dryer or oven. As the jerky dries, beads of oil may come to the surface; pat it dry with paper towels. It's essential that the initial drying temperature be at least 140 degrees to guard against spoilage. Be especially careful not to over-dry jerky. You certainly want it to be dry enough to be safe, but it's a disappointing waste of time and money to dry it to the tooth shattering stage. Remember, fish and turkey are more delicate than beef and take far less time to dry. Jerky is dry enough if it cracks when you bend it, but isn't so brittle that it breaks in two. To keep jerky at peak flavor, store it in the refrigerator.

Camper's Classic Jerky Marinade (Makes about 1/2 lb jerky)

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 lbs round or flank steak or other low-fat cut of meat, sliced

1. In a bowl, mix together marinade ingredients.

2. Pour over meat slices; thoroughly wet all sides of meat with marinade and layer in the marinating dish.

3. Cover tightly and marinate in refrigerator overnight or from 6 to 12 hours. For best results rotate meat layers every couple of hours until ready to dry. Dry according to above directions.

Ginger Jerky Marinade (Makes about 1/2 lb jerky)

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 lbs round or flank steak or other cut of sliced meat

Follow the directions for Camper's Classic Jerky.

Dry-Cure Curry Jerky (Makes about 1/2 lb jerky)

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 big pinches of cinnamon
  • 3 big pinches of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs round or flank steak or other cut of sliced meat

1. Combine ingredients and thoroughly mix together.

2. Add meat slices and work spices into grain of meat.

3. Layer meat in the dish, cover tightly and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or 6 to 12 hours. Dry according to above directions.

Dry-Cure Southwest Jerky (Makes about 1/2 lb jerky)

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 lbs round or flank steak or other cut of sliced meat

Follow the directions for Dry-Cure Curry Jerky.

Smoked Teriyaki Tukey Jerky (Makes about 1/4 lb jerky)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 3 lbs turkey

1. Cut the raw meat into thin sheets with a very sharp knife.

2. Mix together the marinade ingredients, pour over the meat and marinate for 3 to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

3. Dry at 145 degrees for 2 hours, then drop temperature to 130 degrees. Because the meat is so thinly sliced it dries quickly, sticks and tears apart easily if you don't turn it often. If you have a dehydrator, use the plastic screen tray to help with the sticking problem.

Salmon Smoked Jerky (Makes about 1/2 lb jerky)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 lbs salmon

1. Cut fish into thin strips about 1/4" thick, 1-2" wide, and 3-5" long.

2. Mix together marinade ingredients, pour over fish and marinate for about 6 hours.

3. Dry at 145 degrees for 2 hours, then lower temperature to 130 degrees until dry. Salmon will bead oil during drying, so be sure to keep soaking up oil with a paper towel.

Teriyaki Tuna Jerky (Makes about 1/2 lb jerky)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or about 3/4 cup of your favorite commercial teriyaki sauce
  • 2 lbs fresh raw tuna

Follow the directions for Smoked Salmon Jerky.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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