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How to Make Beef, Deer, or Turkey Jerky With a Jerky Gun

I love making my own beef jerky, it is a great snack to have around the house.

Deer jerky all done and cooling down on paper towels. You can dab the shinny grease spots off to help it dry and cool.

Deer jerky all done and cooling down on paper towels. You can dab the shinny grease spots off to help it dry and cool.

What Should I Know Before Making Beef Jerky?

I find ground meat to be easier to work with.

I love jerky, and I have found ground meat is easier to use, prepare, and chew compared to other meat cuts like roast or steak. This is my own personal recipe. I tend to add more pepper than what this recipe calls for. You can always stick to the recipe and sprinkle some pepper on the strips just before you start dehydrating the meat.

Experiment with flavors!

The seasoning and ingredients apply to all three types of meat (deer, beef, and turkey). With turkey, I recommend adding a little celery salt to enhance the flavor. I recommend using a garlic and pepper jerky mix, picking other flavors you may prefer more or trying different ones when you make a new batch.

Freeze it for two months to ensure dangerous germs die.

When you use game meats, allow the meat to stay in the freezer eight weeks (some sites say only four, but I feel better with two months) to ensure any bacteria will die in the freezer, which will make the meat safe for you to consume.

This recipe uses three pounds of meat.

This recipe is based on three pounds of ground meat (a little more or little less will not need any adjustments), and three pounds fits into the four trays that come with the dehydrator. I recommend purchasing some additional trays and mesh sheets so you can do larger batches for summer snacks and holiday gifts. This was our family members' favorite gift last Christmas. They all loved and appreciated it tremendously!

I use Bass Pro's Open Country Garden Master dehydrator.

Before I purchased a dehydrator, I looked at reviews, talked to a few people that have used the dehydration process a long time, and decided on the Bass Pro store's Open Country Garden Master brand. Wait 'til it is on sale! Buy some extra mesh sheet inserts, and if you can, a few extra drying trays. I believe you can go as high as 25 trays. Wow!

Rate How Fast This Snack Goes In your House

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

25 min

3 hours 30 min

3 hours 55 min

Three pounds raw meat (half as much when dried)

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  • 3 pounds ground meat, Your choice of deer (venison), beef, or turkey
  • 3 Tablespoons cure, from the packet in the seasoning kit
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper/garlic seasoning, from the packet in the seasoning kit
  • 3/4 cup cold water, 1/4 cup per pound
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning, (to reduce sodium: use no salt and regular pepper)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Emeril's original essence
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt seasoning, (Only use this with turkey, and it is optional)

Preparing and Dehydrating the Jerky

  1. Add the fresh ground meat to a large mixing bowl.
  2. From your jerky seasoning mix box, dump the cure and pepper/garlic seasonings from each envelope on top of the meat. Mix well with your hands. Alternately, you can use a food processor with a cutting blade at the bottom and pulse the mix.
  3. Add a 1/4 cup of water and the Worcestershire sauce. Add the all the seasonings, and mix very well.
  4. Add the rest of the water in, and mix again until the water and seasonings are fully incorporated into the meat.
  5. Thoroughly wash your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator. You want the meat to really absorb the seasonings. Let the mixture rest for a minimum of 24 hours. Forty-eight hours is even better, especially for deer meat.
  6. After the 24 hours or 48 hours in the refrigerator, load up your jerky gun (like a caulk gun). Make sure you have a butter knife near you to cut the ends of the meat as you dispense the strips.
  7. Place a mesh tray on each drying tray. Start with the bottom tray that sits directly on top of the dehydration machine. Dispense the strips close together. If you just have four trays and are using three pounds of meat, there can be some small gaps.
  8. Cut the end of the strip with the butter knife (nothing too sharp, you don't want to cut into your mesh sheets).
  9. If you like a lot of pepper flavor, you can sprinkle additional pepper on top of the strips once the tray is covered with the meat strips.
  10. Repeat till the trays are full or you run out of meat. Add the cover that sits on top of the dehydrator.
  11. Set the temperature to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You have to determine for yourself exactly how long you want to dry them in the dehydrator for. The directions in the seasoning packet and instructions that come with your dehydrator will give you some idea. I do mine for 3–3.5 hours. (This batch was 3.5 hours.)
  12. I turn the strips over every hour.
  13. When they are done, place them in a large container lined with paper towels and let them remain there for three hours. Dab any shiny grease spots off the meat.
  14. You can now seal them in freezer bags and keep most of them stored in the freezer till you are ready to eat them. Keep one bag in the refrigerator and eat immediately. The meat will be good for another 5-7 days. This recipe doesn't use preservatives, so it is important to keep the strips cool, and watch for any mold growth. Throw the whole bag away if you ever see even a tiny amount of mold in the bag.

Storing the Jerky

Fresh jerky doesn't contain preservatives. It's best when consumed immediately. It will keep unrefrigerated for about five to seven days. It will last even longer in the refrigerator. The rest you should place in Ziplock freezer bags and store in the freezer. I put 10–15 pieces in each bag.

What If I See Mold?

Since no preservatives are present, you must watch for mold. If you see any at all, throw the whole bag away. If you gift jerky to anyone, make sure they understand the storing and mold guidelines to keep them healthy too.

How Do I Make Low-Sodium Beef Jerky?

This is a high-sodium snack. You can reduce the salt/sodium levels by leaving out the Worcestershire sauce and replacing the Montreal steak seasoning with No Salt brand seasoning and regular pepper.

How to Make Jerky With a Jerky Gun

© 2012 Brenda Kyle

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