Items you will need
Jerky cure and seasoning
Metal or plastic drying sheets
Food dehydrator or oven
Using a jerky gun is an easy way to make jerky. It is also a fun activity that kids can participate in. A jerky gun makes jerky out of ground meat, rather than solid strips, so the end product is easier to chew than jerky made from strips of meat.
Using a Jerky Gun
Mix up a batch of ground meat with a jerky seasoning and cure according to the recipe.
Assemble the jerky gun by screwing the barrel onto the piece that contains the plunger and trigger mechanism.
Push down the release button on top of the gun. Hold it down as you pull back the plunger.
Spoon cured ground meat into the barrel until nearly full.
Attach the round jerky plate to the barrel, then screw the cover on over it to hold it in place.
Shoot the meat into strips by repeatedly pulling the trigger and dragging the strip onto a specially made ventilated drying sheet. Use a metal mesh sheet specifically made for drying jerky if you plan to make the jerky in the oven. Plastic food dehydrator sheets work equally well when used with the food dehydrator. Spray the sheets with a light mist of nonstick cooking spray before use.
Space the strips so they don’t touch to allow airflow between them and so they don’t stick together. Fill the sheet and set aside.
Refill the jerky gun and continue to fill sheets until the meat is gone.
Bring the temperature of the jerky to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria, according to United States Department of Agriculture recommendations. After the meat reaches that temperature, the temperature can be reduced to 130 or 140 degrees.
Dry the jerky in a dehydrator or oven. Rotate the sheets in the dehydrator every hour. Set the oven on its lowest setting and leave the door cracked open. Cooking time varies. The jerky is done when it is dry and bends without cracking.
Test the jerky every hour to see whether it is done. Cooking times vary considerably but normally run four to eight hours. If you undercook the jerky, you may get sick from salmonella or E. coli bacteria. If you overcook the jerky, it will be hard and brittle.