Among potential deer camp snack foods, venison jerky is like bacon — it tastes great, and just about everyone likes it. And some early season venison is a perfect main ingredient for November deer camp jerky. Venison is lean (which is good for jerky making) and yet flavorful enough to stand up to whatever seasoning you like.
Austin Walton, retail products manager at Walton's, a company that provides just about every kind of meat-processing gear known to man, points out another prime advantage of homemade jerky.
"Homemade Jerky is simply dried meat. Making it involves slicing strips of muscle meat, adding a seasoning and cure, and cooking/drying in an oven," Walton said. "It is simple enough that anyone can make their own jerky at home."
Although experimenting with your own seasoning mix is something a serious cook might want to do eventually, to start with the process can be even simpler.
"To avoid the complexities of individually measuring and mixing your own spices, prepackaged seasoning in a variety of unique flavor profiles can be found from places like Walton's," Walton said. "They also include the necessary cure packet as well."
The cure is an important ingredient, because the combination of the cure, seasonings and dehydration help preserve the jerky safely — as well as make it taste great.
If you take the first steps in making your own jerky, and want to continue to make it, there are ways to make more varied kinds of jerky.
"You can make a ground and formed or re-structured jerky by using a jerky gun or jerky-maker attachment with a sausage stuffer or meat grinder," Walton pointed out. "You can also use a grill or smoker to cook at a low temp and impart natural smoke flavor."
A key item for anyone who wants to make jerky repeatedly with consistent results is a dehydrator.
"Using a dehydrator rather than an oven gives you better airflow and makes the drying process easier," Walton said.
For more information on everything from seasonings to specialized equipment for processing your own deer — or making the cuts you get from your game processor into better tasting meat, check out Walton's website at waltonsinc.com.