A lot of people assume that processing an animal is too difficult or beyond their skill set so they drop their wild game off at the butcher and let them do the dirty work. In addition, they assume that jerky, snackin’ sticks and even sausages are something that you can only get if a butcher does the job. However, jerky making doesn’t have to be hard and anyone, of any skill level, can do it.
My secret weapon in this endeavor is Hi Mountain Seasonings Jerky Cure & Seasoning. This is an all-inclusive kit that has the seasoning, cure and instructions all in one package. It can season up to 15 pounds of meat and it’s less than $10. Plus, they have a lot of different flavors to satisfy virtually any palette from your traditional hickory or mesquite flavors to bolder flavors like spicy lime, mandarin teriyaki, cracked pepper n’ garlic and much more. In total, Hi Mountain Seasonings has more than 20 different offerings to choose from.
- Prep your meat
a) The first thing you need to do is determine what meat you will be using. With the Hi Mountain Seasoning Jerky Kits you can make jerky from beef, wild game, poultry, fish or almost any other meat you have. In this case, I’ll be using venison.
b) Trim up your meat to remove any undesirable pieces of fat, silver skin, etc.
c) If I have a nice big whole muscle, then I’ll make slices about ¼-inch thick and then cut them in 3 to 4-inch lengths. If I’m working with scrap pieces, then I’ll cut them up into cubes or pieces 1-2 inches long and ¼ to ½ inch thick.
- Weigh your meat
Once you have everything trimmed and cut to size, take all of your meat, put it in a container and weigh it. The weight is important in determining how much seasoning and cure you’ll be using so don’t skip this step or just guess.
- Mixing up the seasoning and cure
Inside your Hi Mountain Seasonings Jerky Kit will be two bags and a shaker bottle. One bag is the seasoning, the other is the cure and both are labeled. Refer to the instructions to find the mixing chart for the appropriate proportions of seasoning and cure based on the number of pounds of meat you are making. For instance: 1 pound of whole muscle meat will require 1 ½ teaspoons of seasoning and 2 teaspoons of cure. Measure each out carefully into the supplied shaker bottle.
- Season your meat
a) Next, lay your meat strips or pieces out flat and pat them dry with a paper towel. I usually do this on top of a piece of foil or parchment paper right on the countertop or in a large pan.
b) Then, using the shaker bottle start evenly sprinkling the seasoning/cure mixture over your meat. Don’t dump it all on one side, watch your shaker and try to use half on one side and then flip your meat over and season the other side with the remaining mixture.
c) Then, I use my hands and start mixing the meat around until the bulk of the seasoning left on the counter or bottom of the dish sticks to the meat and each piece has some flavor on it.
d) Once it has been seasoned, put your meat in an airtight storage container or bag and let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Time to cook
a) There are a few different ways you can go about cooking your jerky, all are effective, it’s up to you. You can use the oven, a smoker or a dehydrator – the choice is yours. I use the oven and smoker, it just depends on the day.
SMOKE IT: To smoke your jerky, think low and slow. I use our Weber Summit Charcoal Grill and set it up to cook indirectly at about 200 degrees. I use a lot of hickory, but wood selection is up to you, your personal preferences and what pairs well with the seasoning you choose.
Cooking time is going to depend on how thick your slices are, but on average it usually takes about 2-3 hours. You want your jerky to be dry but still chewy. Just make sure your meat hits the 165-degree mark. Over cooking will leave you with a really dry and hard to chew piece of jerky. Over smoking can lead to a weird bitter flavor so don’t go overboard!
a) To cook your jerky in the oven, preheat to 200 degrees. Next lay your strips or pieces of meat directly on the oven racks with a pan below them to catch any drippings. I’ve also used a broiling pan with success. Don’t crowd the oven or rack, make sure there is room around each piece of meat. Again, the cook time will depend on how thick your meat is taking anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, however long it takes to reach 165 degrees.
- Eat and Store
Once your jerky is done pat the outside dry with a paper towel and let it cool. Once it’s cool you can store it in an air tight container or storage bag in the refrigerator. If you are making large volumes, then store some in the freezer and pull them out as needed.
Not only can you make jerky with whole muscle meat, but Hi Mountain Seasonings also provides detailed instructions for making jerky with ground meat. And if you’re into Snackin’ Sticks, there are also instructions to do that, all in the same Jerky Cure & Seasoning Kit. You can do a lot with one kit!
Put the wild game in your freezer to good use and make some jerky! It’s a crowd pleaser that will probably disappear before you can wrap it up and store it.
Have fun y’all!