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So I just got myself a dehydrator, for the purpose of making jerkies.

I was thinking of just seasoning the meat lightly instead of marinating them, which takes considerably more time, needs more sauce and a bit more effort.

Would it make a lot of difference? I suppose I could always experiment, but from the "making sure I won't get sick from parasites" point of view, will a super dry jerky be safe if it's not been marinated?

Also, would it depend on the meat?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Marinating your meat makes it safer primarily by introducing it to salt, which kills bacteria. It is possible to make jerky safely without it, though you need to be careful.

You should use lean meat; fat is the most likely component in the meat to go bad.

It's also important to regulate the temperature closely and make sure hold the meat at temperature for long enough.

You can get some really really nasty bacteria if you don't cure meat correctly, so it's worth taking some time on it. Check out this guide on safely making jerky in a home dehydrator for more info.

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I'm using an excalibur dehydrator, putting on on jerky temperature straight away. Wouldn't the dehydrator (at that temperature, too) kill the bacteria? At any rate, I've marinated it, maybe could use a bit more salt though.. – kamziro Jan 21 '11 at 4:16
awesome link. cutting edge information in that guide. thanks! – zanlok Jan 21 '11 at 15:31

Two methods of protecting you from bacteria chemically, is with vinegar and sugar (brown). These are not sure fire remedies. Five minutes of boiling prior to drying is a mechanical method as is ten minutes of oven heating to 175 degrees after drying. Salt cure curing is a safe bet too and if you want less salt after curing add potato slices to the mixture over night and remove in the morning. A lot of the salt will be gone.

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Hello, I'd love to have more info about the oven method. I'd love to make jerky without salt, because I would use it for backpacking and the less salt you consume, the less water you need. Is there any source about the 175F degrees (is that F or C) system? Thanks – Dakatine May 12 '15 at 7:44

Yes. If you don't, you've made biltong instead.

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