Jerky is the snack that we all love to love. It is the most portable, not to mention tastiest snack for everyone from outdoorsmen to athletes to moms. And it's pretty easy to make and tastes so much better when you smoke it yourself on your Traeger.
To make sure your jerky comes out tasting like king of snacks that it is, here are some jerky tips that come from our Traeger Jerky Cookbook which has 50 amazing jerky recipes, and was written by our resident expert, Nancy Loseke. The cookbook is 50% off till April 14th 2013 so pick one up and make some jerky!
1. Use lean cuts of meat with very little intramuscular fat or connective tissue. Trim off however much fat and connective tissue that you can before drying the meat. The fat will quickly turn rancid and give the jerky an "off" taste.
2. Partially freeze the meat or poultry for an hour or two before slicing to minimize tearing.
3. The perfect thickness of meat is 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch. If you know your butcher or butter up to them, they just may slice it for you. (Some supermarkets sell top round that has already been sliced.)
4. After draining the marinade off the meat, lay it in a single layer between paper towels and go over it lightly with a rolling pin. This removes excess moisture and cuts down on drying time.
5. Transfer the jerky to a resealable plastic bag while it is still warm. Some moisture will form on the inside of the bag, which will be reabsorbed by the meat as it rests. This helps improve the texture of the finished jerky.
6. Marinate the meat or poultry overnight for the best flavor and texture.
7. If you wanted an added boost of flavor, sprinkle the drained jerky with spices or herbs, like Traeger's Beef Shake, before drying it.
8. Keep the finished jerky in the refrigerator or the freezer for the longest shelf life.
9. Smoking shelves are available for the Traeger Lil' Tex/Elite and the Texas models and significantly expand your grilling space, meaning MORE jerky for you.
10. Maintain the lowest temperature setting possible on your Traeger for the best results.
11. Lean ground meat can also be used for jerky. Season the meat, then roll it between sheets of wax paper, parchment or plastic wrap into an even thickness. Partially freeze, then cut into strips.
12. For seafood jerky, use non-oily species of fish. (Salmon in the exception. It makes incredible jerky, sometimes known as "Indian Candy".)
For even more tips check out our Traeger Jerky Cookbook. It has some dynamite jerky recipes, like our Coffee Break Jerky, that will leave you craving more.