For those who are looking to add a unique, smoky flavor to their next meal, jerky is a great choice. Not only does it provide the robust flavor of smoked meat without having to go through the long process of smoking an entire piece of meat, but it’s also incredibly versatile and can be used in countless creative preparations. But with so much versatility comes one big question: how long should you smoke jerky?
We’ll look at all the factors that determine how long you need to smoke your own homemade jerky including cooking temperature, thickness of your cuts and type of wood used for flavoring so that you can make sure every batch will be flavorful and juicier than ever!
What is Jerky?
Jerky is a type of preserved, smoked meat that has been around for centuries. It’s made by cutting the meat into thin slices and then curing it with spices, salt and other ingredients before being slowly smoked over wood or charcoal. This method removes moisture while locking in flavor and preserving the protein-richness of the meat.
Jerky Nutrition Facts:
– Serving size: 1/4 cup (30g)
– Calories: 130
– Protein: 9g
– Total Carbohydrates: 2g
– Sugars: 0g
– Sodium: 330mg
– Fat: 7.5g
– Saturated Fat: 2.5g
– Trans Fat: 0
Polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat content of jerky can vary depending on the recipe ingredients used. Typically, polyunsaturated fats are found in higher amounts than monounsaturated fats in most jerky recipes due to the use of vegetable oils for marinating and flavoring. Jerky is also a source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. The specific amounts of these nutrients depend on the ingredients used in the recipe.
Jerky is generally considered a healthy snack option because it is low in carbohydrates and calories while providing a good source of protein. Additionally, jerky can provide an array of essential vitamins and minerals depending on the meat used in the recipe. Jerky also contains some saturated fats, but overall, its fat content is not high compared to other snacks like chips or cookies. Furthermore, most jerky recipes do not contain added sugar or preservatives so it is a much healthier alternative to traditional processed snacks.
What Temperature Should You Smoke Jerky?
The ideal temperature to smoke jerky will depend on the type of meat you are using as well as personal preference for doneness. For beef jerky, most experts recommend smoking at a temperature between 145°F and 165°F until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (for food safety). For fish or poultry, a slightly lower cooking temperature of 135°F to 155°F is recommended.
How to cut meat for Jerky
Making homemade jerky is a great way to enjoy a healthy snack without having to buy store-bought versions. The key to making delicious, tender jerky is to cut the meat into thin, uniform slices. It’s important to use a sharp knife and make sure that each piece of meat is cut in the same size and shape for even drying during the dehydration process.
To start, select lean cuts of beef such as flank steak, sirloin, or top round. Make sure the meat is completely thawed before you begin cutting. You can then cut the meat into strips approximately 1/4-inch thick by 2-3 inches wide with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. For an easier slicing experience, partially freeze the meat before cutting. You can also use a food slicer to make uniform slices if you have one available.
Once the meat has been cut into strips, it’s ready for flavoring and dehydrating. Following a safe jerky recipe is important for avoiding foodborne illnesses so make sure to read up on proper preparation instructions before starting.
How to marinate Jerky before smoking
Marinating is an important step in the jerky-making process, as it helps to tenderize the meat and give it flavor. You can purchase commercial marinades or make your own with ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Let the meat sit in a marinade for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight for best results.
Once the meat has been marinated for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator, strain off any excess liquid before dehydrating. This will help ensure that jerky does not become too soft during dehydration. Now you’re ready to place the slices on your dehydrator trays and follow the instructions for your specific dehydrator.
How Long to Smoke Jerky?
The amount of time that it takes to smoke jerky depends on the type and thickness of the meat, as well as your desired level of smokiness. Most jerky recipes require between 2-3 hours of smoking. In general, thinner cuts of meat, such as flank steak, will take less time than thicker cuts like top round or brisket. It’s important to keep an eye on the temperature throughout the process to ensure that your jerky does not burn or become too dry.
Most recipes suggest a temperature range between 150-200°F (65-93°C). If possible, try to use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat after smoking for several hours. The internal temperature should reach 160°F (71°C) before you consider the jerky done.
How Long to Smoke Jerky at 150?
If you choose to smoke jerky at a slightly lower temperature of 150°F, the optimal smoking time will be slightly longer than for higher temperatures. In general, 2-3 hours should be enough to get the desired results. As always, it is important to check the internal temperature of your jerky with a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached 160°F before consuming. Smoking at this temperature will result in an overall milder smoky flavor and a more tender texture.
How Long to Smoke Jerky at 180?
If you prefer to smoke jerky at a higher temperature (180°F), the optimal smoking time will be much shorter than for lower temperatures. Generally speaking, about 1 hour of smoking time should be enough to get the desired results. As always, it is important to check the internal temperature of your jerky with a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached 160°F before consuming.
As long as you keep these guidelines in mind and exercise proper food safety practices, you are sure to create delicious and flavorful homemade jerky with each batch!
How Long to Smoke Jerky at 200?
If you choose to smoke jerky at a higher temperature of 200°F, the smoking time will be even shorter. In this case, approximately 45 minutes should suffice to get the desired results. As with other temperatures, it is important to check the internal temperature of your jerky with a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached 160°F before consuming. Smoking jerky at higher temperatures can result in a more intense smoky flavor so adjust accordingly depending on your personal preference.
How To Make Jerky?
Making jerky is a fairly simple process, but there are some important steps to follow to ensure that your meat is safely dehydrated and flavorful.
(To cook a delicious Smoke Jerky you will need:)
– 1/2 to 1 pound of lean meat (flank steak, top round, brisket, etc.)
– Marinade ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
– A dehydrator or smoker (depending on the recipe)
– Meat thermometer (optional but highly recommended)
1. Slice the meat into thin strips of even thickness. This will help ensure that all pieces cook evenly during the dehydration process.
2. Place the strips in a shallow bowl and cover with your favorite marinade ingredients. Let the meat sit in a marinade for at least 4 hours (or overnight) in the fridge.
3. Preheat your smoker or dehydrator to between 150-200°F (65-93°C). Place the strips on the racks and smoke/dehydrate for 3-5 hours, depending on thickness and desired level of smokiness.
4. Check the internal temperature of a few pieces with a thermometer after smoking for several hours to ensure that it has reached 160°F (71°C).
5. Let the jerky cool completely before storing or eating. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
How Thick Should Your Jerky Cuts Be?
The thinner the cut of meat, the quicker it will be done smoking. Generally speaking, jerky cuts should be no thicker than 1/4-inch thick. Thinner cuts will also result in a more tender texture with less tough bites in the finished product.
What Wood Should You Use for Smoking Jerky?
The type of wood you use for smoke flavoring your jerky can make or break the taste and aroma of your final product. The best woods to use are hardwoods such as hickory, maple and oak as they provide a strong flavor that pairs well with beef but won’t overpower the taste of other meats.
How to dry the Jerky?
Once your jerky is smoked to perfection, it’s time to move on to the final step – drying. This can be done in a dehydrator or an oven set at its lowest temperature. To ensure even drying and prevent overcooking, turn the slices over halfway through the process. Dehydrate until the jerky is completely dry and leathery but still slightly pliable. The total drying time will depend on how thick your cuts are, but it should take between 3-6 hours in a dehydrator or 4-6 hours in an oven.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Smoke Jerky
1. Not using a thermometer: It is essential to use a meat thermometer when smoking jerky in order to ensure the internal temperature has reached 160°F before consuming.
2. Cutting your meat too thick: Jerky should be cut no thicker than 1/4-inch thick in order to achieve an ideal texture and cooking time.
3. Using the wrong type of wood: Avoid softer woods like pine or cedar as they can overpower the taste of your finished product. Stick with hardwoods such as hickory, maple, or oak for optimal flavor.
4. Overcooking: Be sure not to overcook your jerky by monitoring it closely during the drying process and using a food thermometer if necessary.
5. Not storing properly: To ensure your jerky keeps fresh, it is important to store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag and keep it refrigerated or frozen.
Once the jerky has been smoked for the recommended time period, be sure to perform a taste test and check on the texture of your jerky. If you feel it could use more smokiness, then add more time as you see fit. As always, when smoking any food product be sure to take precautions in order to ensure safety. This includes using gloves when removing items from the smoker and making sure that the meat is cooked completely before consuming.
Finally, for those who have been considering making their own jerky, the key is really experimentation find what type of wood chips work best for you and experiment with different spices or marinades until your desired flavor is achieved. Don’t be afraid to get creative this adventure will surely reward your hard work with a delicious product!
James Burney is the founder of Acadia House Provisions is a restaurant that with local & upscale dishes and high-quality kitchen supplies and food products. James was born and raised in Maine, and he has always been passionate about cooking. After working in a number of prestigious restaurants he started Acadiahouseprovisions.com with the goal develop into a comprehensive information site specializing in cooking and cuisine. His goal is to make it easy for people to cook delicious meals at home without spending a fortune.