You can use almost any lean meat to make jerky. Fatty meat ruins the taste, that's why you shouldn't use it. Beef is famous due to its convenience. It's affordable and readily available. You can also make jerky from fish, bear, chicken, pork, among other types of meat. Making jerky is easy though you have to do some preparations. You should also use clean plastic gloves or tong when handling the meat to avoid contaminating it. Read more to understand what you require to do. Note that many people have a challenge cutting the meat for jerky. They don't know how thin they should cut the meat. Here are simple methods to use.
1. Help from the Butcher
You don't need to stress yourself up. When you go to buy meat at the grocery store, request the butcher to slice the meat and give your recommended thickness. So how thick to slice meat for jerky will depend on your personal preferences as well as the type of jerky you are cooking. Getting help from the butcher saves time, and he will not charge you.
2. Meat Slicer
Do you have an electric meat slicer in your kitchen? It is more convenient than a knife. You will have precise meat slices to make your jerky as compared to when using a knife. Unlike the meat slicer, you will have to guess the right thickness when using the knife. The chances of errors are high. You will slice it depending on whether you want a chewy jerky or you want a tender one.
Before using a meat slicer, always ensure that the meat is boneless. Bones can tear up the slicer. If your meat has an uneven texture, you can freeze it partially. Again a completely frozen meat will damage your slicer. The diameter space of most slicers is 8-12-inches. Cut any larger meat to enable it to fit in the carriage easily. Never use your bare hands to push the meat towards the blade. Always use a food pusher.
If you want commercial jerky, this method is safer, has higher output, it's economical, consistent slices and is faster. Unfortunately, if the jerky is for the business purpose, it has a limited slicing capacity; it's limited to how quickly you can slice the meat. It's also expensive, and if you make a mistake, you can have a severe cut.
3. Sharp Knife
Start by putting your meat in the freezer. After it has semi-frozen remove it. The water in the meat crystallizes when you freeze it leave the meat more firm. That makes it easy to cut the meat. When freezing the meat, ensure that it's not frozen solid. Only ensure that it's firm. Unfortunately, when using hand, you are likely to get inconsistent slices. It's a slow cutting style, and you are likely to injure yourself. If you are making jerks for commercial purpose, it will increase the production cost since you will have to employ many people to provide labor.
What Is The Best Way To Slice Meat For Jerky?
So what is the best way to slice meat for jerky? Should you slice with grains or against grains? Here is the difference. If you slice your meat with the grains, it means that the blades of your knife will follow natural lines of your meat. So when eating the final product, you will have to chew through the fibres. That makes your jerky chewy/tough. If you were to cut against the grains, the blade is supposed to intersect natural lines of your meat. You can easily chew your jerky since the hard work is over. So when slicing meat for jerky, always slice against the grains.
How Thick To Slice Meat for Jerky?
There is no specific rule dictating what thickness one need to cut. You should consider professional recommendations. They recommend a thickness of ¼-inch and 3/16-inch slices. If you want to make the jerky chewy, you can consider increasing the thickness. If you want the jerky more tender, you can decrease the thickness.
Preparations before Slicing Your Meat
1. Cut Lean Meat
You should not use fatty meat. If you decide to use beef, you can select flank steak, sirloin; bottom/top round among others. Avoid fat since it will spoil the taste and also limit your jerky's shelf life. So if you notice any fat chunks in your meat, remove it.
2. Freeze Your Meat
When you freeze your meat for at least 1-2 hours, it becomes easy to cut. It will make your meat firm. If your meat becomes completely frozen, it will not be easy to cut. That's the reason why you should only freeze partially it for 2 hours and not more.
3. Slice Your Meat
If you don't have a slicer, get a sharp knife. Cut it into smaller pieces of 1/8-1/4 in strips of 0.32-0.64 cm. You can either cut against grains if you want the meat to be tender or with grains if you want a chewy jerky. You can then marinate your meat if you wish to make it tastier.