A lot of folks waste a lot of deer meat in the butchering process. For instance, oftentimes the neck meat goes straight in the garbage. But, if you hold on to that meat, it makes for a few excellent venison burgers. The same goes for jerky and there are plenty of deer jerky recipes out there.
You don’t have to turn some of the prime cuts into deer jerky, however, you should set aside the parts that normally go in the trash just for this purpose. It’s pretty expensive to talk a butcher into turning some of those leftover cuts into some prime venison jerky.
But, you don’t have to. So long as you have the equipment, you can make deer jerky all by yourself. All you need to do is let the butcher know what to leave off to the side. Make sure to exclude all the fat and tendons, as that won’t turn into much you can use.
How to Make Deer Jerky
First, you need the best selections of meat. Avoid any excess fat as it tends to turn the jerky into a rubbery mouthful with a texture that’s not too appealing to most people. As long as it’s meat, you can’t make a poor choice, so long as you keep the cuts thin.
Now all you need is a recipe. Most recipes are going to include seasonings that do some of the dehydrating work on their own, such as salt, garlic powder, or onion powder. Sometimes, a recipe will call for all three.
Next, you need a method of dehydration. Fortunately, you don’t have to make jerky in a dehydrator if you don’t currently own one. You can make it just fine in an oven. If you’re looking for a good dehydrator that won’t break the bank, the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator is a pretty good choice, especially for deer meat.
When you dehydrate meats in an oven, and you’ve never done it before, you don’t need to use high heat. In fact, stick with 150°F as your preheat setting.
How Long Does it Take to Dehydrate Deer Jerky
In an oven, heated to 150°F, it will take about nine hours to fully dehydrate the meat. It can take up to ten hours but no less than eight. Sure, there are plenty of deer jerky makers out there who will tell you they do it in a couple of hours.
However, no deer jerky method will recommend you dehydrate your soon-to-be venison jerky for only two hours.
- Oven Jerky: eight to ten hours of cook time at 150°F
- Smoker: four to six hours of cook time at 165°F to 200°F
- Open Flame: three to four hours over an open flame
- Dehydrator: eight to ten hours at 155°F
Regardless of what method you use, it’s going to take a little while for the meat to become fully dehydrated. You do have to be very careful when using the open flame method because it’s easy to singe the meat if you’re not watching and maintaining the flame.
Smoking can be difficult as well, especially if you aren’t using an electric smoker. You have to stay on top of the temperature and keep it perfect.
How to Deer Jerky in the Oven
Making jerky in the oven is probably one of the easiest methods to dehydrate it and convert it into jerky. Set the oven to 150°F, and don’t put the meat in until the oven has reached that temperature.
Make sure the meat is placed on a cookie sheet with a liner of aluminum foil. Set up the strips so that none of them touch or overlap. You can use more than one sheet. In fact, due to the large size of an oven, it’s better to use multiple sheets and get as much meat in there as possible.
Start early in the morning so you have enough time to cook it, and occasionally, crack the oven door open for a few minutes to let out any excess moisture.
Best Deer Jerky Marinade to use
Remember to cut your meat up into the strips you want to use before you place them in the marinade. You don’t want to marinate the meat and cut it up later.
- 1 tbsp of honey
- ½ tsp of sea salt
- ¼ tsp of onion powder
- ¼ tsp of garlic powder
- ¼ tsp of black pepper
- ¼ tsp of red pepper
- 4 tbsp of coconut aminos
- 4 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
Mix all of the above and place your venison strips in it. Cover it and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
The result is some delicious deer jerky. It’s important to use the right times. For instance, you don’t want to pull the strips from the marinade before 24 hours is up. You also need to stick with it whether it’s in the oven or a smoker.
It’s difficult to “overcook” venison when you’re turning it into jerky. So if you need to keep it in the oven, smoker, dehydrator, or over an open flame longer, feel free to do so. Getting it to the right texture is important, and it makes for some seriously delicious jerky. Your patience will be rewarded.