• Your meat should be as lean as possible. Using lean meat will help the meat dry faster and aid in cleanup by decreasing fat drippings. Ground beef should be 80% to 90% lean. Ground turkey, venison, buffalo and elk are other excellent choices for jerky.
• Your jerky gun has NESCO/American Harvest seasonings included and are available commercially for all tastes. Whenever you make jerky, be sure to use the cure (sodium nitrite). The cure is used to help prevent botulism during drying at low temperatures.
• ALWAYS wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after working with meat products. Use clean equipment and utensils.
• Keep meat and poultry refrigerated at 40°F (5°C) or slightly below; use or freeze ground beef and poultry within 2 days; whole red meats, within 3 to 5 days. Defrost frozen meat in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter.
• Special considerations must be made when using venison or other wild game, since it can become heavily contaminated during field dressing. Venison is often held at temperatures that could potentially allow bacteria to grow, such as when it is being transported. Refer to the USDA Meat and Poultry Department for further questions or information on meat and food safety.
• Dry meat at 160°F (71C) until desired doneness. Drying times may vary based on many circumstances including but not limited to: the relative humidity of the room, the temperature of the meat at beginning of drying process, the amount of meat in the dehydrator, leanness of meat, etc. Always allow jerky to cool before taste testing.