Jerky doesn’t have to be dry and tough to be long lasting! Regular jerky has a long shelf life because the water activity of the jerky is lower than what is needed for bacteria to grow on it but there are other ways to lower the water activity without removing the water. By adding 18% of your products weight in sugar and 20% of its weight in water you can bind up enough of the water in the sugar to make it unavailable for microbial growth, but leave the jerky nice and tender. That is what we are going to try to do with this recipe.
Recipe: Tender Pheasant Jerky
Boneless, skinless pheasant breast with fat trimmed
Jerky Seasoning of choice
18% Extra brown sugar
- Partially freeze the pheasant breast before slicing, a pheasant breast that is mostly frozen will slice more evenly than a chilled breast will. A slicer is the best way to do this as it will keep everything uniform, but it is possible to do with a knife as well. Aim for about ¼-1/2” thick pieces since we are doing tender jerky.
- Dissolve sugar, jerky and cure in the 20% water, make sure everythingis fully dissolved and suspended in the water, if the sugar just collects at the bottom this will not work.
- Vacuum tumble your meat for at least 20 minutes, or until the solution of water, sugar, cure and seasoning has been absorbed by the meat.
- If you do not have a vacuum tumbler you can do this in a vacuum bag, leave it overnight in the fridge and massage the meat every hour or so to loosen the fibers of the meat and allow the solution to penetrate.
- Follow the below smoke schedule. Note, if you don’t have a way to control the relative humidity(RH) in your smoker leave the water pan out and then read this article on how to increase RH in your home smoker.
- Stage 1 - 20 Minutes Dry at 110° 0 Relative Humidity(RH)
- Stage 2 - 30 Minutes Dry at 135° 0 (RH)
- Stage 3 - 10 Minutes Dry at 140° 0 (RH)
- Stage 4 - 30 Minutes Dry at 150° Wet at 126° 50 RH
- Stage 5 - 30 Minutes Dry at 155° Wet at 130° 50 RH
- Stage 6 - Dry at 175° Wet at 155 RH 60 until internal temperature is 160°