Outdoor Chenango: Everyone Loves Jerky
Published: September 13th, 2023
By: Eric Davis

Outdoor Chenango: Everyone Loves Jerky

Most of the hunting seasons are just around the corner and you might find yourself with some game meat still in the freezer from last year. Sometimes how you prepare a specific cut is easy, such as the backstrap or loin of a deer. Other times it can be difficult, particularly game meat that has a strong “gamey” taste such as goose.

In college, I lived with 4 other guys who loved to goose hunt and we shot a lot of geese collectively. The ridiculous amount of goose meat we would get from a 4 or 5-man September limit (32-40 geese) forced us into preparing it often. We quickly learned what ways of preparation we liked and what ones we didn’t. Making jerky rose to the top of the list fast.

Making jerky out of any game meat can be simple or slightly complicated, depending on how much you decide you want to do.

Making jerky is a basic method of food preparation that relies on a marinade or seasoning cure to add flavor to the meat, then the meat is cooked at a low temperature to take the moisture out of the meat.

The cooking process can take place in a dehydrator, an oven, or even a smoker. Seasoning blends are available commercially and come with easy to follow instructions. You can also find recipes online for both seasoning combinations or marinades. It should also be noted that jerky can be made by cutting a big cut of meat into thin strips or by using ground meat and a jerky gun (it reminds me of a caulk gun). Each approach is slightly different from the other. As with most cooking, as you try this method you will find yourself tweaking it until you find the best recipe for you.

The following is the way I prefer to make my jerky. I will say that in the near future (when It’s not winter) that I plan on starting to experiment with using my smoker.

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- 1/3 cup soy sauce

- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

- 1 tablespoon black pepper

- 1 tablespoon table salt

- 1 tablespoon garlic powder

-2 tablespoons onion powder

- 2 tablespoons brown sugar

- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Slice 2-3 pounds of game meat against the grain of the meat about 1/8” thick. Put the meat in a large bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Stir contents of the bowl to mix well. Place a lid on the bowl or use plastic wrap to cover bowl. Place into the refrigerator overnight.

Place meat strips onto dehydrator trays. Try to arrange meat slightly different on each tray so that there are gaps in different spots to allow for airflow throughout the dehydrator. Set dehydrator to 165-180 degrees and turn on. After 2 hours, rotate trays (top to bottom, bottom to top). After another 2 hours, check meat. Keep checking it roughly every 30 minutes until done.

How to tell meat is done: Grab a piece and bend it. The meat should bend and crack but not break in two.

Take the jerky off the dehydrator trays and place into plastic baggies but leave the tops open while the jerky cools. Once cool, close the baggies and place into the fridge.

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Enjoy your homemade jerky! If eating the jerky straight out of the fridge, the jerky may seem tough. If you let it get to room temperature, it will be easier to break apart and feel more tender.

Making some jerky now and storing it until hunting season will have you stocked up with a snack for the field that is healthier than gas station snacks. It also is a great way to get someone interested in hunting by showing them how wild game can be prepared.