Making Deer Jerky: A Complete Guide
Every family has a favorite snack. The one they eat while they are sitting around watching movies or the ones that they eat while playing board games on Friday night. Of course, not all of those snacks are good for you or your family and some of them can be downright expensive as well. Luckily, in our house, though we do love a good bowl of popcorn, some sugary snacks, and a platter of fruits and veggies, one of our favorite snacks is homemade deer jerky.
You might be thinking, for a snack? That’s a whole lot of work for a snack to eat in front of the TV or even for the boys during the Saturday night poker game. But in reality, making deer jerky isn’t as hard as you might think. Also, if you come from a family of avid hunters, then you probably have the deer meat to make the jerky out of right there in your freezer, which means it’s going to be pretty easy to make and super inexpensive to boot. You can’t beat that for a snack that the whole family will love, now can you? Venison is definitely all-around great meat for cooking.
Another great thing about deer jerky as a snack is that you can make it a family event. Gather the entire family in the kitchen and make the deer jerky together, then make a night of it watching movies or even telling ghost stories around the fireplace while you wait for the jerky to get finished. Once it’s done, the sky is the limit on what you can eat and the games you can play while enjoying this delicious, healthy snack.
Still not convinced. Well, in this blog, we’re going to go into the different kinds of deer jerky you can dehydrate as a family and even how to make deer jerky in a few simple yet fulfilling steps. Ready to learn how to make this much-loved natural snack? Well, we’re ready to teach you, so let’s get started.
Types of Deer Jerky Your Family Might Love
There are so many different flavors and types of deer jerky that you can make as a family that the list is almost endless. We will throw a few of them together below for you to choose from and decide which flavors are the best for you and your family.
- Electric smoker jerky
- Black pepper jerky
- Sweet and Spicy jerky
- Teriyaki jerky
- Kentucky bourbon jerky
- Dehydrator jerky
- Cracked black pepper jerky
- Spicy teriyaki jerky
- Chipotle jerky
- Cayenne habanero jerky
These are only a few of the possible combinations and flavors out there to make a snack of deer jerky for the ones you love. Not only do they make good snacks for family and friends, but they can be a crowd-pleaser as well. When it comes to making deer jerky, different people do it in different ways. Some use a dehydrator, other’s use an electric smoker, and others use homemade methods. Below we will go into one of the surefire methods of making deer jerky that is easy to follow and ends with a deer jerky treat that will leave your family asking for more.
Tips for Making Deer Jerky Revealed
Not only does deer jerky make a great snack, but it also makes great travel food. Whether you’re heading out to your stand during hunting season or going on a road trip with friends and family, jerky is the perfect finger food to take the edge off and not leave behind a mess. Read on below for some tips on how to make the best deer jerky around.
Many people go out there and pay top dollar for the venison meat they cook and turn into jerky. However, if you’re a hunter, it makes no sense to do this. It’s best to go out there to hunt and bag your own deer. We eat a lot of deer meat because it’s actually the cheapest meat you can get, if you hunt and process it yourself that is. So, take a hunting trip, learn how to process your deer, and once your meat is clean, you’re ready to move onto the next part of the process.
Choose Your Cut of Meat
This is perhaps the easiest part of the whole jerky making process. While you can use any part of the deer to make jerky, most people choose the whole roasts that come from the hind legs, as they hold together better. You can also use backstrap, and many people do, but they are a little harder to deal with. The choice of which meat you use is a personal one, just be sure that if you’re processing the deer yourself, you soak your meat for at least five days to get rid of that gamey flavor many people complain about.
Get Rid of the Silver Skin
You want to remove all of the silver skin you can from your venison meat before you decide to make jerky as well. Make sure that you use a super thin filet knife to do it so that you aren’t taking out your meat at the same time.
Slicing Super Thin is Key
The key to great jerky is slicing it super thin. While this could be done with a really sharp knife, nine times out of 10 slicing it by hand is going to end with the strips being too thick, which means they have to spend a lot of time in the dehydrator, and can come out chewy, tough, and tasting horrible. We recommend if you’re going to be making jerky a lot that you invest in a good meat slicer. This way you know that your venison is sliced just right for amazing venison jerky.
Mix Your Spices
The next step in the deer jerky making process is one of my favorites. I just love choosing and mixing the spices together. If you’re doing this as a family, it helps to have one person mixing the spices and one person slicing the meat. It speeds up the process so you can enjoy your deer jerky as soon as possible. Some suggestions for spices to use are listed below. Of course, you can use whatever your family loves, the choice is fully yours!
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Crushed red pepper
- Quite a bit of sugar to add that yummy sweetness
- And anything else your family loves and will taste good in a jerky
We are spice lovers here, but if you aren’t, then you can adjust the spices to meet your personal tastes. One quick note here, if you’re making the deer jerky on your own, make sure to mix your spices before cutting your meat. You don’t want to have to store the meat in the fridge while you’re mixing, because you won’t get hot before giving it a spice bath.
Give the Meat a Spice Bath
Once you have all of your meat cut thin and your spices mixed, it’s time to give the meat a spice bath. Take everything and mix it in a bowl, putting as much of your meat as you can in the marinade. Once your meat is completely coated and soaking in the marinade, make room in the fridge for the bowl and let it marinade overnight. When you wake up the next morning, it will be time for the fun part, the drying out of your jerky to begin!
Dry Out Your Meat
Once the meat has marinated, you’ll want to pull it out of the fridge and lay the meat in a single line on the tray in your dehydrator. Whether you use a homemade dehydrator, or a store bought one is entirely your choice, as either works well. If you have a smaller dehydrator then you will need to do several batches, according to how much you want to make ahead of time. Times may vary, so make sure that you dry out the meat according to the instructions on your particular dehydrator. We have had the best results with drying out the jerky from 12 to 24 hours, which makes it just right for consumption. Of course, you may have different results, so test it on a small batch before you make a lot, that way you don’t ruin your meat and have no jerky at all to show for it.
Store or Eat
Once your meat has dried to the consistency that makes great deer jerky, you can eat as much as you want and then store the rest for later. It’s best to buy large storage bags to seal your deer jerky in for the best flavor retention. Press the air out of the bag, once you seal it and you have a healthy, delicious snack ready to go when you need it. There is nothing more appetizing that deer jerky when you’re watching the game, having a family game night, out on a hike with the kids, or just want a snack to tide you over until dinner is done.
Now, that you know how to make deer jerky, you might be interested to know that it can be used in a variety of ways, not just as a snack for the family. Below, we will give you a list of the best ways to use your deer jerky, if you want to have it in a food that isn’t a snack.
Awesome Ways to Use Your Deer Jerky
Deer jerky isn’t just for snacking. There are other foods that can benefit from this tasty treat. Read on below for a list of a few of them.
- Grated over a fresh salad
- Use it to thicken your tomato sauce
- Roast it with your Brussel sprouts so even the kids will eat them
- Use it to liven up your omelet or scrambled eggs
- Use it as a garnish in your bloody Mary
- Use it as a topping in your oatmeal
- Use it to add protein to any type of soup
- Put it in the kids’ lunch instead of a bag of chips for a healthier addition to their midday meal
- Sprinkle it over your deviled eggs
These are just a few of the best ways to use deer jerky, other than just as a snack, though in our family it is the snack of choice. Below look for a list of times that call for deer jerky as no other time does.
Times when Deer Jerky Makes a Super Tasty Treat
While every day is a good day for a deer jerky treat, there are sometimes that just seem better than others. Does your family like their jerky snack at these times as well?
- During a family nature hike
- During game night
- During movie night
- After school
- Midnight snack
- During and after the baseball game
- On family road trips
- Anytime that they can get it!
Deer jerky is something that is seasonal, of course. However, if you time it right and dry out enough, you can store it and have this awesome treat year-round. Of course, in our house, it never seems to last past a couple of months, sometimes days, and we have to wait until deer season rolls around once again to make more. Does your deer jerky last a long time or does your family, like mine, eat it like it’s going out of style? Let us know your thoughts and your own recipes for deer jerky in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
This concludes our blog on making deer jerky, giving you a guide to get out there and get it done. Deer jerky isn’t only an awesome snack for the family, it’s healthy and inexpensive as well, making it win-win for everyone concerned. Until next time, happy hunting, everyone!
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