With deer season upon us, it’s a great time to learn how to make deer jerky in your home oven. Not everyone owns a dehydrator, and you can make delicious deer jerky without one. Jerky is a perfect treat for your family, makes great Christmas gifts, and snacks for your guests.
Start With Fresh Deer Meat
-Rinse meat in cold water until water runs clear.
-Cut meat into strips 5-inches long by 1-inch wide by 1/2-inch or less thick. Do not cut against the grain; cut lengthwise with the muscle. To make your meat easier to cut, you can partially freeze it, although it isn’t necessary. Partially frozen meat is always easier to cut.
-Rinse your strips of meat until the water runs clear.
-Next, you marinate your meat. You may want to experiment with different marinades to come up with the one you like best, but the following marinade recipe is especially formulated for deer jerky and is guaranteed to make mouth-wateringly delicious jerky.
Marinade for Deer Jerky
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package onion soup mix
1 teaspoon pepper
4 drops liquid smoke
-Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly. Marinade will have a strong taste. The stronger it tastes, the more flavor your jerky will have. More seasoning is required to create a stronger flavor because the heat of the drying process weakens the spices and therefore; the taste.
-Thoroughly immerse meat in marinade, stirring to be sure all surfaces of the meat are immersed.
-Refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours, stirring 2 to 3 times. You can use a gallon freezer bag to marinate or any covered container.
-After meat has marinated for 24 hours, remove from marinade and thouroughly drain using a colander or place meat on a cookie rack over a pan to drain, turning meat to drain both sides.
-Using a cookie sheet, broiling pan, or baking pan, place a cookie cooling rack over the pan, to allow for draining and air circulation around the meat.
-Arrange meat in a single layer on the cookie cooling rack, close but not touching (to allow air circulation).
-Preheat oven 150°F to 250°F.
-Place your meat in the oven and oven-dry, turning each piece every 2 – 3 hours. Drying time will depend on how thick your meat is cut. At 1/2-inch thick, it should take approximately 4-7 hours. When it has dried enough, the meat will be brown, hard and dry to the touch. If you like your jerky a little softer, dry for a lesser amount of time, but it should be eaten within a few days as it may not be 100% dried out.
-Store your jerky in plastic ziplock bags, jars with lids, or any sealable container. Very dry jerky can be stored in sealable containers for up to 6 months. Softer Jerky can be stored for short periods of time in the refrigerator and longer periods of time in your freezer.