Food is one of the pillars of survival. Read on and learn the art of making beef jerky. It’s a great way to preserve all that meat you’ve hunted in the wild.
Making Beef Jerky: How to Preserve Meat for Survival
What is a Jerky?
Jerky is simply meat that has had all of the moisture drawn out of it. No matter how you make jerky, understand that you are drying the meat, not cooking it. If you dry the meat properly and keep it in a cool, dry place, it will stay good for months. This is perfect for a survival scenario, in which you need a preserved protein source that is easy to pack. Jerky can be made out of virtually any animal you might catch and kill. There are dozens of ways to season and flavor your jerky, so you can make a product perfect for your taste. In this article, I will cover how to make jerky in your home or in a survival scenario.
To prepare your meat for drying, there are a few steps to take. The first is to trim down the meat. This means you must remove as much fat as possible. Then cut it into thin strips. If preparing in your home, a meat slicer is awesome for this. Otherwise, a knife will work fine. Your slices should be less than ¼ inch thick or they will not dry properly. This takes some practice and care, so take your time. From there you should pat the meat dry and add salt and spices to help with the drying process. The spices you choose are up to you, but all spices help with drying. You can also use marinades to add flavor if you like.
The key to the drying process is to keep the meat at a temperature between 100F and 200F. The lower the temperature, the longer it takes. You cannot let the meat cook at higher temperatures. For drying in the oven, I like to set it to 175F and dry it for six to eight hours. I put all the meat on racks over baking sheets and check it every few hours to remove the pieces that are done. The pieces will not all finish drying at the same time.
For drying over a fire, you will need to build a tripod and let your fire burn down to coals. You can either build a rack within the tripod or you can use cordage to string the meat from the tripod. To test the temperature, you have to hold your palm over the fire at the height of the meat. If you can hold it there between five and ten seconds before pulling it away, you have the temperature about right.
You will know that the meat is done when it is stiff but not brittle. You should be able to partially crack it when you bend it, but it should not fall apart. When you squeeze the jerky, it should be hard and no liquid should come out. Once your meat is finished, you have to find a way to store it in a cool dry place. If it gets any moisture or gets too hot, it will spoil in days. Otherwise, you are good for months.
Steve’s Kitchen shows us a video of how to make beef jerky without a dehydrator:
If you are lucky enough to take out a pig or deer in the wild, you will need a way to preserve the meat. Jerky is the obvious option. The process of making jerky in the wild is not easy. I suggest you take the time to try it out well before you ever must rely upon it. If you learn the process and are ready for it before procuring meat, you will have protein for weeks.
Have you ever tried making your own beef jerky before? If yes, we’d be glad if you share your simple beef jerky recipe in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 8, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.