• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Nesco Food Dehydrator & Jerky

 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone,
I recently bought a Nesco Food Dehydrator & have a couple questions:
-Is beef heart suitable for making jerky?
-Nesco's instruction manual states that makers of beef jerky should use sodium nitrite to preserve jerky. Is that necessary? Is there a way for me to safely substitute salt?
Thanks!
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These are really good questions.

I don't know the absolute answer to them... but the theory is that the heart is a muscle, so if it is properly drained (which I always find difficult when home butchering, especially if the animal is stressed when slaughtered, like when we send our animals to the slaughter house to meet their end), then it should, in theory be possibly okay to make jerky from. (butchery is cutting up the animal, slaughter is the killing of the critter, I butcher, I hire out the slaughter. With home slaughter, the animal is less stressed and the organ meat is considerably nicer than when I send the animal to the commercial facility).

Nitrite (and nitrates) are curing salts. They drastically reduce the amount of risk you have with meats spoiling during curing/drying. They are not strictly necessary...HOWEVER, they are useful. They are even more useful if you have never cured meat before as they can help you understand the difference of what safe looks, smells and tastes like.

Okay, this is difficult. I don't know how detailed you want to go into this topic, so I'll start shallow, and if you want to learn more, please ask questions.

I personally recommend using curing salts (as per the recipe recommendation), especially when curing meats for the first time. If you have a heart condition, or have a life threatening reaction to some plastic molecules (because... blabla it's extremely complex - basically if you go into full anaphylaxis if you are in the same room as a synthetic plastic, then don't use (modern) curing salts.)

There are ways to safely substitute salt for curing salts - our ancestors did it, we can too. I'm not comfortable recommending it for making heart jerky. As an organ meat, hearts are a bit less safe than regular muscles. Maybe try a batch of regular jerky first, before trying with a heart.

Also, if you are using heart, or any organ meat, it's important to have a source you can really trust. Personally, I would never use grocery store hearts for this kind of endeavour.

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Edit to add: in some parts of the world, depending on what kind of animal you have and how it was kept, and how it was butchered... blablabla lots of factors, you can get parasites from eating raw heart. This something to be aware of when sourcing your organ meat.
 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:These are really good questions.

I don't know the absolute answer to them... but the theory is that the heart is a muscle, so if it is properly drained (which I always find difficult when home butchering, especially if the animal is stressed when slaughtered, like when we send our animals to the slaughter house to meet their end), then it should, in theory be possibly okay to make jerky from. (butchery is cutting up the animal, slaughter is the killing of the critter, I butcher, I hire out the slaughter. With home slaughter, the animal is less stressed and the organ meat is considerably nicer than when I send the animal to the commercial facility).

Nitrite (and nitrates) are curing salts. They drastically reduce the amount of risk you have with meats spoiling during curing/drying. They are not strictly necessary...HOWEVER, they are useful. They are even more useful if you have never cured meat before as they can help you understand the difference of what safe looks, smells and tastes like.

Okay, this is difficult. I don't know how detailed you want to go into this topic, so I'll start shallow, and if you want to learn more, please ask questions.

I personally recommend using curing salts (as per the recipe recommendation), especially when curing meats for the first time. If you have a heart condition, or have a life threatening reaction to some plastic molecules (because... blabla it's extremely complex - basically if you go into full anaphylaxis if you are in the same room as a synthetic plastic, then don't use (modern) curing salts.)

There are ways to safely substitute salt for curing salts - our ancestors did it, we can too. I'm not comfortable recommending it for making heart jerky. As an organ meat, hearts are a bit less safe than regular muscles. Maybe try a batch of regular jerky first, before trying with a heart.

Also, if you are using heart, or any organ meat, it's important to have a source you can really trust. Personally, I would never use grocery store hearts for this kind of endeavour.

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Edit to add: in some parts of the world, depending on what kind of animal you have and how it was kept, and how it was butchered... blablabla lots of factors, you can get parasites from eating raw heart. This something to be aware of when sourcing your organ meat.


Wow, thanks for a thoughtful answer.
-Why are organ meats less safe than muscle meats?
-Also isn't the heart a muscle?
-My beef comes from a (relatively) local farm that markets itself as having grass-fed, organic cattle. Is that meat at risk of parasites?
-What are the risks if I try to cure with pink salt as a novice? (I am unlikely to use sodium nitrite if at all avoidable.)
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have such fantastic questions. You are really making my brain work tonight.

Why are organ meats less safe than muscle meats?


The first thing that comes in my memory is the parasite issue. The other thing is that organ meat spoils a lot quicker than meat meat, aka, muscle. Blood also spoils quickly, and the heart is full of blood. If it was drained correctly, it has a nice shelf life, but if it wasn't drained correctly at the time of death, then the blood congeals in the heart and it's difficult to get out, thus decreases shelf life.

There is something else tickling my brain about hearts that is relevant to this situation... but I can't quite remember what it is. Give me a day or two, my memory retrieval system isn't what it use to be.

Also isn't the heart a muscle?


Oh Yes!
And I say that with enthusiasm to rival David Tennant Doctor Who.

The heart is the muscle of all muscles... rivaled only by the tongue. I can't remember off hand which is the most muscular of the two, but if I wasn't feeling so lazy right now, I bet google would tell me.

The heart is a muscle, but it's also an organ meat. I never understood that until I dressed my first sheep (aka, cut it open and cleaned out it's guts - yes it is as disgusting as it sounds, I cried buckets). All that blood in the heart, and where it 'lives' in the animal, made me understand why it's an organ meat. It needs special attention compared to the rest of the carcass.

My beef comes from a (relatively) local farm that markets itself as having grass-fed, organic cattle. Is that meat at risk of parasites?


I only know my local parasites, so I can't help you there. So...um.. it's a...um... definite maybe.

A good starting place to learn about it would be In the charcuterie

What are the risks if I try to cure with pink salt as a novice?


Too much curing salt and heart issues can cause problems. Sometimes.

Then again, too much celery also causes the same problem.

The important thing is to get the right curing salt for the right recipe, in the right amounts.

Humans have been using some form of curing salt for... well since before we started writing recipes. We haven't killed off the species yet. It isn't until very recently, as in the last generation or so, that we have started to standardize our curing salts. By standardizing the curing salt, we actually use a lot less of them now than we ever did before. We also seem to eat less cured meat than our European ancestors (for those of us with ancestors from Europe). We also seem to have more health problems with Cured Meats than our ancestors. The BBC and WHO have been going on about the dangers of eating cured meats for a couple of years now. Basically, it's not so simple as that. Not only has how we cure meat changed, but also the additives, packaging, and the animals. Home curing, with animals that were raised well, has, in my opinion, less risk than commercially prepaired meats - if you are careful about how you do it.

CURING SALTS ARE CONFUSING! I know I'm not suppose to state something as fact, and I suppose it is possible that there is someone out there that doesn't find them confusing, but for most of us, they are confusing. It's good to check that you have the ones you need.

To double check:

What exactly does your recipe call for in the curing salt?

What do you mean when you say you have pink salt? (there are several products people call pink salt - not all of them are curing salts).

I don't know Nesco's. But I'm not the one making the jerky. Do you trust the source of the recipe?
 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Ranson,
"What exactly does your recipe call for in the curing salt?

What do you mean when you say you have pink salt? (there are several products people call pink salt - not all of them are curing salts). "

I have Olde Thomson brand Himalayan Pink Salt.

I dont have a specific recipe in hand for curing with pink salt as opposed to sodium nitrite. I am hoping to obtain a safe one.

Supposed I sliced up the heart muscle into small chunks and boiled it for 10 minutes. Would that:
1) kill off any bugs or bacteria
2) render the meat safe for turning into jerky
3) produce jerky that will stay fresh for a couple months if refrigerated?
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Curing salts for preserving meat:

I'm going to do this oversimplified.

There are two man curing salts used to help preserve meat. One is a Sodium Nitrite and the other is Sodium Nitrate. These both help prevent unwanted bacteria from entering the meat and greatly extend the shelf life. You can cure meats without curing salt, but it's generally considered safer to use the salts. I like to use curing salt if I'm trying a recipe for the first time, so I can know how it looks and smells when everything goes right.

Curing salts are a controlled substances in some parts of the world. Aka, if I want to buy some here in Canada, I have to register with a government certified seller. These salts are powerful stuff, and can also be used to create explosives... apparently. I know my bacon is good, but exploding bacon?

Sodium Nitrite is also called Pink Salt or Curing Salt #1 in the US. Here we call it Prague powder #1. This is what I use for my bacon.

Sodium Nitrate: often called Curing Salt #2. This is generally for long term cured meats, like salami, or meats that aren't going to be fried.


Other things called pink salt: Some salt, salts are naturally pink because of the trace minerals in the salt. These are mostly sodium chloride. Himalayan salt (which I linked to in the last post) is in my opinion the most delicious salt in the whole wide world. But it is not a curing salt. According to Wiki, the pink colour is due to the iron in the salt. It can be used as (very expensive) salt salt. It won't give you the advantages of curing salt.


Generally, once I have the hang of the recipe... and this is what I do, not advise on what other people should do... if I am leaving out the curing salt, then I increase the normal salt by 10 to 25%, depending on the recipe. For Jerky, I do about 10%. I've never had the guts to cure organ meat, so I don't know how to change the salt for that.


References used for writing this post are In the charcuterie I linked to earlier, and my other favourite meat curing book, Charcuterie by Ruhlman & Polcyn. Believe it or not, I don't actually have this info stashed in my brain for easy retrieval. I look it up every time I use curing salts to make certain I get it right.
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Supposed I sliced up the heart muscle into small chunks and boiled it for 10 minutes. Would that:
1) kill off any bugs or bacteria
2) render the meat safe for turning into jerky
3) produce jerky that will stay fresh for a couple months if refrigerated?


I've never made jerky with cooked meat before, so I don't know. I imagine there is a change in texture. It also kills off the good bacteria as well as the bad.

To make the heart safe... and I don't know if this works for beef or not... I usually freeze my meat for a few months. This kills off some of the main parasites that are a concern in North America. But I don't know if beef heart has this problem or not... so...?

Maybe for your first jerky adventure, you could start with regular meat, and save the heart for the second jerky making?

Apparently, some people make jerky with ground meat. I've seen lots of recipes for it, but I haven't tried it yet.

I like making jerky with thinly sliced meat. If I were buying the meat, I would go to the Korean grocery store and buy their soup meat, which is very thinly sliced (maybe an 8th of an inch at the most). This makes fast drying, crunchy jerky, which is my favourite. Now, I grow my own meat, I slice it as thin as I can, across the grain. It is easier to slice if it's partly frozen.

I marinade the meat in a salty mixture, usually with spice. I use to use a lot of soy sauce in my marinade, but now I can't eat soy, I often just use salt, fish sauce, chili flakes, and a bit of sugar. Maybe some wine as a base, or sake. After 24 to 48 hours marinating somewhere cool, I dry the meat. Because it's so thin and drying quickly, I'm not so worried about the cure containing curing salts. I store my jerky in an airtight container at room temp. I've found some that was two years old and it was great to eat, but mostly it gets eaten within the first two weeks because it's yummy.

That said, this is the internet and the internet is forever... I don't know your situation. Also, other people might stumble across this post and they all have their own situations I know nothing about. There are things that can go wrong with meat, especially if you don't know the source of your meat. Your source sounds lovely to me... but maybe the next reader isn't as confident with their meat source. Anyway, what I'm saying is that knowing food safety is important... what I do, isn't necessarily what you should do.

So there, that's the disclaimer. People now are much more afraid of meat than they were in the past. But looking at the past, people knew a lot more about how meat interacted with our environment. They made jerky with very little trouble. It can be done. But it's difficult for me to recommend things on the internet because it's meat, and our meat system has changed drastically from that of our great grandparents.



In an imaginary situation, if I wanted to make jerky from heart meat, this is how my first trial would look:
-get a heart from a source I trust, and be confident that it is well drained. My hunter friend cuts a slice in the heart in two not long after it stops beating, so it drains easier.
-slice the heart extremely thin, cut out the artery walls- or whatever you call it, the tubes where the blood goes - because this will be chewy.
-make a salty marinade, with wine, chili, garlic and other spice that helps reduce unwanted bacteria. I imagine Pastirma spices would taste good with heart. Marinade it for 24 to 36 hours.
-dry as quickly as I can.

I have no idea how safe this is. If it was me, I wouldn't worry too much because I'm hypersensitive to smell and taste and can usually tell before the first bite. Apparently most people can't tell... so... I don't know what to suggest.

This site is about experimenting and trying new things... trying to balance caution with encouragement. There is no reason I could see that it wouldn't work... can anyone else chime in on this?


Another source that might be of interest to you. I don't normally recommend Prepper material, as I find Preppers can get a bit... hmmm... however, this one I really liked for an introduction to curing meat: Prep School: Preserving Meat Without Power by Ash Bauer. If I remember right, there is a lot of focus on how to do whole muscle meat curing safely without curing salt.
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I found This recipe for beef heart jerky which might interest you.

Coconut aminos act a lot like a soy sauce, both in flavour and in action. I don't see why the recipe wouldn't work... but if I was making it for myself, I would probably replace the coconut aminos with fish sauce (which is basically fish, salt and water, fermented to make deliciousness) and add a generous amount of salt to the mix. I personally have trouble digesting coconut aminos if they are raw, so that's the only reason I would avoid them. Soy sauce would work as another alternative to coconut aminos, if you don't mind soy. In my case, I would probably use tamari from making Miso with a non-soy bean like chickpeas.
 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:Is This it?


Yes, that is my preferred salt.
 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:I found This recipe for beef heart jerky which might interest you.

Coconut aminos act a lot like a soy sauce, both in flavour and in action. I don't see why the recipe wouldn't work... but if I was making it for myself, I would probably replace the coconut aminos with fish sauce (which is basically fish, salt and water, fermented to make deliciousness) and add a generous amount of salt to the mix. I personally have trouble digesting coconut aminos if they are raw, so that's the only reason I would avoid them. Soy sauce would work as another alternative to coconut aminos, if you don't mind soy. In my case, I would probably use tamari from making Miso with a non-soy bean like chickpeas.


Thanks for the recipe. This looks promising. BTW, no soy for me. I am allergic as heck to it.
 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:
Supposed I sliced up the heart muscle into small chunks and boiled it for 10 minutes. Would that:
1) kill off any bugs or bacteria
2) render the meat safe for turning into jerky
3) produce jerky that will stay fresh for a couple months if refrigerated?


I've never made jerky with cooked meat before, so I don't know. I imagine there is a change in texture. It also kills off the good bacteria as well as the bad.

To make the heart safe... and I don't know if this works for beef or not... I usually freeze my meat for a few months. This kills off some of the main parasites that are a concern in North America. But I don't know if beef heart has this problem or not... so...?

Maybe for your first jerky adventure, you could start with regular meat, and save the heart for the second jerky making?

Apparently, some people make jerky with ground meat. I've seen lots of recipes for it, but I haven't tried it yet.

I like making jerky with thinly sliced meat. If I were buying the meat, I would go to the Korean grocery store and buy their soup meat, which is very thinly sliced (maybe an 8th of an inch at the most). This makes fast drying, crunchy jerky, which is my favourite. Now, I grow my own meat, I slice it as thin as I can, across the grain. It is easier to slice if it's partly frozen.

I marinade the meat in a salty mixture, usually with spice. I use to use a lot of soy sauce in my marinade, but now I can't eat soy, I often just use salt, fish sauce, chili flakes, and a bit of sugar. Maybe some wine as a base, or sake. After 24 to 48 hours marinating somewhere cool, I dry the meat. Because it's so thin and drying quickly, I'm not so worried about the cure containing curing salts. I store my jerky in an airtight container at room temp. I've found some that was two years old and it was great to eat, but mostly it gets eaten within the first two weeks because it's yummy.

That said, this is the internet and the internet is forever... I don't know your situation. Also, other people might stumble across this post and they all have their own situations I know nothing about. There are things that can go wrong with meat, especially if you don't know the source of your meat. Your source sounds lovely to me... but maybe the next reader isn't as confident with their meat source. Anyway, what I'm saying is that knowing food safety is important... what I do, isn't necessarily what you should do.

So there, that's the disclaimer. People now are much more afraid of meat than they were in the past. But looking at the past, people knew a lot more about how meat interacted with our environment. They made jerky with very little trouble. It can be done. But it's difficult for me to recommend things on the internet because it's meat, and our meat system has changed drastically from that of our great grandparents.



In an imaginary situation, if I wanted to make jerky from heart meat, this is how my first trial would look:
-get a heart from a source I trust, and be confident that it is well drained. My hunter friend cuts a slice in the heart in two not long after it stops beating, so it drains easier.
-slice the heart extremely thin, cut out the artery walls- or whatever you call it, the tubes where the blood goes - because this will be chewy.
-make a salty marinade, with wine, chili, garlic and other spice that helps reduce unwanted bacteria. I imagine Pastirma spices would taste good with heart. Marinade it for 24 to 36 hours.
-dry as quickly as I can.

I have no idea how safe this is. If it was me, I wouldn't worry too much because I'm hypersensitive to smell and taste and can usually tell before the first bite. Apparently most people can't tell... so... I don't know what to suggest.

This site is about experimenting and trying new things... trying to balance caution with encouragement. There is no reason I could see that it wouldn't work... can anyone else chime in on this?


Another source that might be of interest to you. I don't normally recommend Prepper material, as I find Preppers can get a bit... hmmm... however, this one I really liked for an introduction to curing meat: Prep School: Preserving Meat Without Power by Ash Bauer. If I remember right, there is a lot of focus on how to do whole muscle meat curing safely without curing salt.


Thanks for all of the detailed information & insights. It is people like you make this website so amazing! I had no idea drying beef was so complicated. I am glad you alerted me
 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3472
Location: Left Coast Canada
387
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Drying meat isn't all that complicated to actually do. The first few times I did it I was scared out of my skull, but it went so well. I've only once had a bit of trouble curing and drying meat, and that was while I was learning how to stuff sausages - got some air pockets in my salami so it went off colour. Still tasted good though.

What is complicated is the modern world. If I say "yah, just go for it." and there was a small chance something went wrong (maybe the heart was improperly stored before you got it, so it had something nasty growing in it)... I would still feel partially responsible because I didn't caution you about the possible trouble. The internet being forever, it's not just you who will read this post... so I have to take that into account too.

We also have to consider that people have been drying meat for... what maybe 10 thousand years... maybe much longer. We haven't managed to kill off the species yet.

Curing and drying your own meats is a marvelous thing. If I've been over cautious in my writing here, please don't let it scare you off.

Here's my salami adventure, it shows you what the air pockets in the sausage made it look like. Also a bit about my experience with Pastirma. This doesn't take any curing salts. It's delicious... and so much easier to make than I ever imagined. It's a great starting place for curing and drying your own meat.



For soy-free tamari and miso paste, South River Miso has some amazing chickpea and adzuki bean products.
 
John Master
Posts: 512
Location: Wisconsin
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have incorporated raw beef heart into the usual raw muscle meat to make pemmican, both get sliced thin and dehydrated, then shredded into practically sawdust and covered with tallow or suet. We add maple syrup and dried berries, cranberries work well. This is one of the few foods ever used to sustain large populations for long periods of time. it keeps for months possibly years with no refrigeration. The beef Heart is hi in co-q10 which is good for our own heart/circulatory and overall health and getting raw animal protein (raw milk is another great form, which can get difficult with the current dairy industry) in the diet can be difficult otherwise. this is definitely one of my favorite foods.
 
N Thomas
Posts: 60
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Master wrote:I have incorporated raw beef heart into the usual raw muscle meat to make pemmican, both get sliced thin and dehydrated, then shredded into practically sawdust and covered with tallow or suet. We add maple syrup and dried berries, cranberries work well. This is one of the few foods ever used to sustain large populations for long periods of time. it keeps for months possibly years with no refrigeration. The beef Heart is hi in co-q10 which is good for our own heart/circulatory and overall health and getting raw animal protein (raw milk is another great form, which can get difficult with the current dairy industry) in the diet can be difficult otherwise. this is definitely one of my favorite foods.

I am happy to hear of your success. I am big cranberry lover (unsweetened) and would be interested in trying them with beef heart.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic