If you have tried a fair amount of commercial jerky then you will probably have experienced jerky that is chewy or jerky that is tender, soft and seems to fall apart more.
I myself prefer a more chewy texture and like to prepare jerky so that it has a bite and needs a certain amount of chewing to break down. That being said, I know a lot of people prefer a more tender jerky so let’s take a look at how we can make jerky more tender or chewier.
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Make A Softer, More Tender Jerky
When it comes to making good jerky, whether it is tender or not the first thing you need to do is to pick the best quality cut you can find as well as the right cut for making jerky.
I have written before about selecting the right cut of meat for making jerky but the things to look for is as little fat as possible.
The next thing to look at is the grain of the meat. If you can see the strands of fibres that make up the cut this will be helpful when cutting the meat and making it more tender.
These two things:
- Minimal fat
- The grain of the meat
Are best found in cuts such as:
- Eye of Round
- Sirloin Tip
These beef cuts will be the easiest to make tender jerky with because they have a visible grain that we can cut across. Cutting across the grain of the meat will help to make it much more tender when it has been dried into jerky.
Cutting Across The Grain Of The Meat To Make Tender Jerky
All cuts of meat for making jerky can be made either more tender or chewier according to how they are sliced.
Muscles are made from fibres and these fibres are like strands that run along the length of a the cut of meat.
Chewy jerky is made by slicing along the length of these strands of fibres. More fibres are left intact and it makes the jerky tough to chew.
Alternatively slicing across these muscle fibres means the fibres are broken up into much smaller parts which come apart more easily when chewed.
So, we now know that if you want to make more tender jerky you need to slice you cut of meat across the grain before dehydrating it. Slicing along the grain will make it tougher.
Selecting a cut of meat where you can visibly see the grain or the muscle fibres and which way they run will help you slice the jerky in the best way.
It Will Still Be Fairly Chewy
Even if you select a tender cut of meat for jerky and then you slice it against the grain the jerky will still have a fair amount of chew. It will be more tender but probably not as tender as some of the commercial jerky you may have tried.
How then can you make really tender jerky?
What About Really Tender Jerky?
If you have had jerky that almost seems to fall apart or it can easily be pulled apart by hand then it is probably made with minced meat.
Making jerky with minced meat removes the grain from the cuts of meat. In effect, the meat is broken down as if it has already been chewed.
Minced meat jerky still needs to have a minimal amount of fat in it, however, it can be made from several cuts of meat without working about how best to slice it.
The mince is formed into either small sausages or strips and then dehydrated. The final jerky holds itself together but will easily break apart when you eat it. This gives the softest and tenderest mouthfeel.
If you want to make really tender jerky then using minced meat is the best option.