Beef jerky is a trendy snack, and it has been so for literally centuries. That is because the way jerky is made – by dehydrating pieces of beef so that there isn’t nearly any moisture left – gives it an ability not to turn bad without refrigerating.
So is it normal when beef jerky is still moist? No, it isn’t normal for beef jerky to be still moist. The whole point of making jerky is to get as much moisture as possible out of the meat. Therefore, moisty jerky is simply jerky that hasn’t been prepared appropriately.
But well, this isn’t the truth in its entirety; there are several types of jerky, and some of them contain more moisture than the others, even that much some wouldn’t hesitate to call that jerky moisty. How exactly is it with jerky and moisture then? Let’s take a closer look.
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Is beef jerky supposed to be moist?
The most straightforward answer would be no; jerky is a type of dried meat, and that means it shouldn’t be moist. However, that being said, it is hard to tell exactly how much moisture can there be in beef jerky.
Products sold in the US can be called jerky only if they meet a 0.75-1 moisture-to protein ratio, but the moisture content depends only on your taste when we’re talking about homemade jerky.
Why does jerky need to be completely dry?
Just be prepared that if you leave too much moisture in your jerky, it will lose its natural ability not to turn rancid quickly. That’s because this ability comes exactly from the lack of moisture, and that means jerky needs to be completely dry so that it will stay good for a longer time.
But since we have options to store our food nowadays and therefore seek jerky just for its taste and nutrition values, drying it completely isn’t actually a necessity.
How do you get the moisture out of beef jerky?
Getting moisture out of beef jerky is a straightforward task; the moisture leaves the meat due to the dehydration process used to “cook” the jerky.
Related: Can Beef Jerky Be Undercooked?
How long should I dehydrate beef jerky?
That means that the longer you dehydrate your jerky, the less moisture it will contain. Therefore, the amount of time for which you should dehydrate your beef jerky is highly dependant on how moist you would like it to be.
In short, it is hard to come up with a specific timestamp, because it can vary from anywhere between 4 to 20 hours, maybe even more in some cases. But there’s no need to worry since we’ve got a little trick for you!
Instead of blindly counting the time, check your jerky regularly by taking a little piece of it and bending it gently. That will somehow show you how much moisture is still left in it, and you can stop the dehydrating process exactly when the jerky suits you the best.
But what if you’re new to making jerky and not sure about how much moisture you should be looking for? Well, in general, it can be said that if any moisture actually squeezes out of the bent jerky, it hasn’t been done yet.
On the contrary, if it breaks, it has probably been left there for too long. Dehydrating your jerky for too long doesn’t do anything wrong in particular to it, though; it just makes it lose some of its deliciousness (at least for the vast majority of jerky lovers), but you can still eat it.
What temperature should beef jerky be dehydrated at?
Just like with the time, saying at what temperature should beef jerky be dehydrated is an arduous task, simply because everyone has their own approach to making the jerky based on how they like it.
With that in mind, there still is a range you should stick to – that is, between 145 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is cure necessary for jerky?
We’re used to curing our meat because we need to do it so that it won’t spoil. But is it necessary with jerky when it should be able to last for a long time by itself? As you probably guessed, the cure isn’t necessary for jerky!
That being said, it often is cured nevertheless; that not only makes it last even longer but also gives it salty flavor many people love on their jerky.
Beef jerky is a type of processed meat made by dehydrating lean beef, and therefore it shouldn’t be moist. However, some people enjoy their jerky a bit softer, which means they stop the dehydration process earlier. That way, more of the moisture stays in the meat.
And you can do that too obviously, just be aware of the fact that moist jerky is much more prone to turning bad than the actual dry one. Hence, you should consider storing it in a refrigerator.
That being said, if making moist jerky wasn’t your intention, you can put the jerky into the dehydrator for another round without any worries.
Image credits – Canva