Early 18th century jerked meat

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HighUintas

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Hi all. I wish I had a recipe to share! I have a question to ask.

I've been reading a lot of early 18th century accounts of fur trappers and explorers. They often mention that when they kill a buff, elk, etc they jerk the meat.

In that time period, what would jerked meat entail? Would this be the same thing as when they dry and smoke the meat to preserve it for the trail?
 
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Generally meat was just sliced thin and dried. A smokey fire near by helps.
Salt cost the same as gunpowder per pound. It was costly to use salt to dry.
Pemmican was a way to flavor plain dry meat
Deer have so little fat in the meat it dries easily. Bear was harder as it can be marbled. Fat won’t jerk well. Rabbit and coon other small game can be infected with trich or other parasites that’s rare in ‘clean animals’ ie ruminates , so even dried should be well cooked before eating.
 

Red Owl

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The way we do it today is not at all like the way it used to be done. Take lean meat and cut with the grain, not across it, in 1/2" thick strips if you live in an arid climate. If you live in a humid climate cut it in 1/4" thick strips.
Each strip can be 18" to 24" long. NO SALT, no pepper, no seasoning at all, just the meat.
Make a wood frame work to drape the meat over. Let it dry a day or two if not arid.
Flies will be all over it so to keep them off build a fire under the meat with lots of smoke. The smoke was to keep the flies away but it also gave a taste to the meat.
You can gnaw on this stuff or pound it into fibers and store in a waterproof bag, etc.
CITY FOLKS should cut 1/4" strips 10" long, run a toothpick through one end and hang on the grate in an oven. Turn the oven to warm and prop the door open a little, it will dry out in a day. You get jerky but without the smoke flavor, still perfectly okay.
 

Two Feathers

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Howdy folks:
FWIW. If you do make "jerky" be sure to remove ALL the fat, if possible. Fat will become Rancid when you store it, even after a good smoke, so be careful. I make Jerky in my dehydrator all winter long. It never lasts NEAR as long as it takes to make it?
Don't limit yourself to just wild game animals, Fish, Turkey, Chicken, Pork Roast, and even a good Eye Round Roast all make fantastic jerky. I have a great recipe for all y'all city folk that uses liquid Smoke onaccounta I know most of y'all don't have access to a Smoke house, which is a sin!!
God bless:
Two Feathers
 

Gavra Meads

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You will need to hang up the meat to dry, but it's important to get the conditions right. Dry-cured meat will dry best at approximately 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit and 70-80 percent relative humidity. Once the meat has lost 30 percent of its weight, it will be safe to slice and eat.
 
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I always keep an eye out on the reduced meat section at my local grocery store. Usually not a problem to find 2 or 3 beef roasts of various types for 4 or 5 bucks each. Also packs of steaks that didn't sell over the weekend at a quarter the price. All good for jerky making. Jokes on them though. I find that "aged" roast to be much more tender and tasty when cooked normally than the fresh stuff.
 
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I always keep an eye out on the reduced meat section at my local grocery store. Usually not a problem to find 2 or 3 beef roasts of various types for 4 or 5 bucks each. Also packs of steaks that didn't sell over the weekend at a quarter the price. All good for jerky making. Jokes on them though. I find that "aged" roast to be much more tender and tasty when cooked normally than the fresh stuff.
Man, our two store's meat sections discount 1/4 off on older cuts and it's gone within one hour of opening. Wish I could get 3/4 off like you.
 
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Man, our two store's meat sections discount 1/4 off on older cuts and it's gone within one hour of opening. Wish I could get 3/4 off like you.
You won't believe this but I have bought packs of steaks there that were originally priced at thirteen or fourteen bucks for something like three bucks and some change. Those deals don't happen every day but I can usually get a couple roasts that were originally twelve or thirteen bucks for three or four. Gotta get there by 9:00 or so or just out of luck. I don't think I've paid regular price for beef this year.
 

Malamute

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The way we do it today is not at all like the way it used to be done. Take lean meat and cut with the grain, not across it, in 1/2" thick strips if you live in an arid climate. If you live in a humid climate cut it in 1/4" thick strips.
Each strip can be 18" to 24" long. NO SALT, no pepper, no seasoning at all, just the meat.
Make a wood frame work to drape the meat over. Let it dry a day or two if not arid.
Flies will be all over it so to keep them off build a fire under the meat with lots of smoke. The smoke was to keep the flies away but it also gave a taste to the meat.
You can gnaw on this stuff or pound it into fibers and store in a waterproof bag, etc.
CITY FOLKS should cut 1/4" strips 10" long, run a toothpick through one end and hang on the grate in an oven. Turn the oven to warm and prop the door open a little, it will dry out in a day. You get jerky but without the smoke flavor, still perfectly okay.

This is what ive done with elk, sliced thin, hung on baling string cords inside in a dry climate a few days, no spices or anything, then stored in paper grocery bags. It needs to be kept from touching where it wraps over the cord so it drys properly. After a year or so gave the leftovers to the dog. Some of it got a mild mold on it, Ive heard that can be wiped off with vinegar on a cloth, but I didnt try it.

The modern flavored jerky is sure nice, but the plain old school stuff is simple and works fine to preserve meat. I agree it really should be cooked, but can be can be eaten as is. Its about the consistency of a pizza box if its not soaked, cooked, or something similar though.
 
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A couple times I've helped convert a buffalo into dried meat for pemmican. Basically skin one side of the buffalo, bone out the muscle groups in pieces as large as possible. Then you take the muscles and sort of "unroll" them in one big slice about 1/4" thick. Hang it up to dry in the sun (usually draped over sticks in a drying rack), bring it in at night to keep it from drawing moisture from the air overnight.

Once dry enough you'd swear you could sharpen an edge and use it as a knife, pulverize it with a hammer (or the modern way, in a food processor). Mix the meat with melted fat. Ideally you want the hard internal fat from an animal--kidney fat etc--but there's never enough. It was common after a major kill to break up the bones and boil them for the marrow grease. The ratio of meat to fat is usually about 60% meat/40% tallow by weight. It depends somewhat on the fat used, and to a lesser extent, on the meat used.

That's the basic recipe for pemmican, of the sort that was used for winter food, traded to the farming tribes, and sold to NWC and HBC (and triggered a war in 1812 after the founding of the Red River Colony).

The fat served several roles. It provided some essential nutrients, as well as a significant percentage of the calories in pemmican (and that's important when you are eating almost nothing but pemmican for months at a time). To get that fat, the season had to be right and the animals had to have been grazing on good grass. If there was no fat, the meat was sometimes left to rot--hence the importance of "knowing poor bull from fat cow".

No spices or salt was used. Salt and spices cost money, and besides, who wants to eat the equivalent of summer sausage all day every day for 5 months? Berries were sometimes added, but that was a "treat" not a staple.
 
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My Mother used to send me out to gather willow wands about 1/2 inch in diameter.
these she would cut in about 24 inch lengths. then she would split them length wise leaving a 3 inch or so unsplit.
the meat of whatever, was cut in strips with the grain. cut about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick and 12 inches long.
she would dust these with ground sage to keep bugs off.
then laying a wand down my job was to hold the two lengths of the split open while she lay the meat strips with about a 1/2 inch above the wand. when it was full and the wand released it pinched the meat strips tight. a couple wraps of twine held the split end .
these were hung over a fire usually 6 feet long with rails on stakes running down the sides. over the whole thing we put green corn stalks to keep birds from raiding.
we had old apple trees and this is the wood used. makes my mouth water remembering.
usually a day would do the trick.
oh yeah. i forgot, but salt was used if we had it along with the sage.
if just doing a deer we just put the strips on rocks circling a fire.
had an aunt that just air dried it like biltong but mom liked the fire/smoke method.
 
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I have always used a new wave oven. thin sliced meat put in teriyaki, sea salt, a little hot pepper for a punch. 2 day soak. 3hrs. on setting 4. after which i vacuum pack portion,s and put in freezer. They last a long time. And taste fresh.
 
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I have always used a new wave oven. thin sliced meat put in teriyaki, sea salt, a little hot pepper for a punch. 2 day soak. 3hrs. on setting 4. after which i vacuum pack portion,s and put in freezer. They last a long time. And taste fresh.
guarantee you they would not last long around here!:ghostly:
 

Red Owl

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Up in Canada there were huge runs of suckers, etc. up from the Artic ocean and the NDNs have stakes driven into the river bottom that trapped these fish. They'd dry them on racks and use to feed the dogs.
I've always made jerky in an oven- if any of you have done it "the right way" how does the smoke change the taste? I'll bet it made it a lot better.
Home made- oven made jerky. You can pound it out into powder and store at room temperature in a sealed jar. I'd had some two years old that was still good. On the trail add to stews etc. It still tastes like jerky (doesn't become ground beef) but it's good .
 
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