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Jerky
Old 07-25-2009, 09:43 PM   #1
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Jerky

So I've been craving the dried tuna I used to eat in Hawaii as a boy, and my neighbor had recently given me a big chunk of frozen tuna from his San Diego trip he'd caught.

Called my Mom to find out how it's made, and what? They'd slice it, salt it, then lay it out and face a big fan on it for a day. This doesn't seem right to me, sounds like food poisoning waiting to happen, especially given that tuna is a relatively fatty fish and I know things with fat have more spoilage than leaner cuts.

What the hell though you only live once so I rigged up a fan in my garage with the salted tuna laid out on a wire cooling rack. We live in Arizona so the garage is pretty warm, I ran it all night. Tried it this morning, very good, never got sick. I've no idea why I didn't get sick, this seems like a perfect way to get sick.

So... any other jerky makers in the forum? Do you use oven, dehydrator, or the above MacGyveresque deal? Marinate or just salt? Ever use fish?
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:34 PM   #2
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Have done fruits, applesauce (turns into fruit rollup), etc. in the dehydrator. Haven't done much for meat. You can buy nitrates (nitrites?) that supposedly kill all the bugs if you need the piece of mind. Good for brats/sausage/etc.

The smoker is the only thing I do meat in. Usually get it to 150-180 F. That's supposed to kill everything. As long as it's a "steak" cut, i.e. not ground, probably much less chance of contamination. Most of the stuff I cold smoke is wild game (deer, fish, etc.). Cold smoke is the temps above, as opposed to actually cooking it, at higher temps. I forget what the magic temp. is , I have too look it up every time.

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Old 07-25-2009, 10:40 PM   #3
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I cure all sorts of jerky - beef, turkey, salmon, etc. Never gotten sick, which is more than I can say about cooked meats. There are all sorts of recipes on the web (ex. Herb Cured Tuna - Food Reference Recipes), plus you can buy jerky kits online or in stores like REI or Bass Pro. It's a good hobby. I make mine for camping, hiking, and just because I like it. The only negative is all the salt, which is supposed to be bad for your blood pressure. But as Haha says, eat what you want and die like a man! (I love that one).
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:06 PM   #4
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Called my Mom to find out how it's made, and what? They'd slice it, salt it, then lay it out and face a big fan on it for a day. This doesn't seem right to me, sounds like food poisoning waiting to happen, especially given that tuna is a relatively fatty fish and I know things with fat have more spoilage than leaner cuts.
Believe it or not, the salt cures the flesh and inhibits bacterial growth. Once the moisture is gone, so is the mechanism for decay.

We're saving those packages of freeze-dried salmon for hurricane food. If I ran out of BBQ charcoal before I ran out of frozen fish filets then I'd salt&dry them too. Who knows, our kid might even get hungry enough to acquire the taste...
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:40 PM   #5
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I grew up on air-cured meat and moldy cheese and never got sick... The first time my wife saw curing hams hanging from the rafters and cheese with 2 inches of green fuzz stored at room temperature, she was more than just skeptical about the edibility of the stuff... But it never made her sick either!
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:50 PM   #6
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... I rigged up a fan in my garage with the salted tuna laid out on a wire cooling rack. We live in Arizona so the garage is pretty warm, I ran it all night...
Seeing the thread title, I was about to say "Jerky is what you become if you stay too long outside the comfort of your A/C home in Arizona", then I read your post.

Yep! That happens. You got your jerky. In the enclosed garage. At night.

Current outdoor temperature at 9:45PM is 97degF.
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:53 PM   #7
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I make beef jerky in the smoker. Just slice it thin, cure it in a very salty brine (recipes all over the 'net), and keep the smoker low and slow. It does not get dry enough to keep outside of the freezer...but it never makes it to the freezer anyway...the kids devour it. Someday I will get a dehydrator, do the smoker thing, then put it in the dehydrator for further drying, and I'm sure it would be great.

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Old 07-25-2009, 11:57 PM   #8
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... eat what you want and die like a man! (I love that one).
I don't know what that means.

Sadly, in visiting relatives in hospitals and nursing homes, I have seen many men dying on hospital beds. I am glad I am not a big guy. It's tough to turn over bedridden big guys to clean them and to change diapers. I cannot help wondering if orderlies and nurses give them less care because of that.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:25 AM   #9
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Yep! That happens. You got your jerky. In the enclosed garage. At night.

Current outdoor temperature at 9:45PM is 97degF.
I threw around the idea of trying something outdoors, but I don't want flies crawling all over it. Covering it with something would eliminate the airflow from the fan.
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Old 07-26-2009, 09:03 AM   #10
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I threw around the idea of trying something outdoors, but I don't want flies crawling all over it. Covering it with something would eliminate the airflow from the fan.
Window screening or mosquito netting, but then it starts getting all complicated and full of infrastructure...
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Old 07-26-2009, 05:03 PM   #11
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In this forum, there might be plenty of fans of Alton Brown, the McGyver of the Food Channel. AZ climate is perfect to make jerky. Duh, it's the dry heat. I wonder if in Florida, the same process wouldn't yield you some mushy steamy meat.
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