How Much Jerky Will 5 lbs of Meat Make?
The short answer to this question that we here at Flying G Jerky know is 5 pounds of beef will make roughly 2 pounds of beef jerky. That is a ratio of about 2.5 pounds of meat to 1 pound of finished jerky. However, there are many different types of meat that can be made into jerky. Additionally, there are different muscle types that can be used to make jerky. Each of them have different water content, which will mostly be lost during the jerky making process, and require varying amounts of raw meat to make the same amount of jerky. That raw meat input to jerky output ratio for beef is what we know as we specialize in beef jerky, which we happen to think is the highest quality jerky around.
The much longer answer is the amount of jerky 5 pounds of raw meat will make depends on multiple factors: 1) the kind of meat used to make the jerky; 2) the type of muscle used to make the jerky; 3) the leanness of the cut of meat used to make the jerky; and 4) how much moisture you want to remove from the meat when it is dehydrated and turned into jerky.
KIND OF MEAT
Many different meats can be turned into jerky. We here at Flying G Jerky currently only produce beef jerky, as we think it is the highest quality jerky around. But you can also try buffalo jerky, yak jerky, wild boar jerky, venison jerky, turkey jerky, tuna jerky, trout jerky, salmon jerky, snake jerky, ostrich jerky, kangaroo jerky, duck jerky, elk jerky, alpaca jerky, and even alligator jerky. A 5 pound cut of each of these different meats will likely make varying amounts of produced jerky after the dehydration process. This is because each of these different meats have varying levels of water, proteins, fats, and other trace minerals and carbs.
As we do not currently make any of these other jerkies, we are not sure of the ratio for each kind of meat and therefore do not know how much jerky 5 pounds of these other meats will make. However, we suspect most of them are similar to beef and the 2 to 1 to a 3 to 1 ratio likely applies to them as well.
TYPE OF MUSCLE
Jerky can be made from almost all different types of muscle from all different kinds of meat. However, most jerky is produced using leaner and whole muscle cuts, as opposed to fattier and ground cuts. This makes the type of muscle selected for your jerky essential in determining the final quality of your product and how much of your product you will need to make the same amount of jerky.
LEANNESS OF THE CUT OF MEAT USED
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, the muscle that comprises the meat we consume generally is approximately 75% water and 20% protein, with the remaining 5% a combination of fats, minerals, and scarce carbs. These percentages will obviously vary depending on the kind of meat and type of muscle, but can also vary depending on the season of the year and the pH of the meat.
A leaner cut of meat will contain more protein and fewer fats. Because water is a component of protein, and not fat, a leaner cut of meat will necessarily contain a higher percentage of water. Therefore, when jerky is made from a leaner cut of meat, or a leaner muscle, more moisture weight will be lost in the dehydration process. This means that more meat input is required to make the same amount of jerky as a smaller input of meat for a jerky made from a fattier meat.
MOISTURE LEVEL OF THE FINISHED JERKY
Making jerky always entails dehydrating the meat and pulling much, if not almost all, of the water from the meat. However, jerky can be produced with varying moisture levels. Typical jerky will lose weight between a 2 to 1 ratio to a 2.5 to 1 ratio. However, you could also make a low moisture jerky that requires roughly 3 pounds of meat to make 1 pound of jerky. So, the meat input required for your jerky depends on the final desired moisture level of the jerky as well as the kind of meat used, type of muscle selected, and leanness of that selected cut.
COOKING MEAT VERSUS DEHYDRATING MEAT
An interesting related question to pose is “what is the water loss difference between cooking meat versus dehydrating meat?” In a study produced for the Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources, published on the website of the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health and found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973943/, the study authors (there were 9 of them) looked at the comparative effects of boiling, steaming, grilling, microwaving, and superheated steaming on quality characteristics of marinated chicken steak. One of the quality factors the authors examined was “cooking loss” which factored in moisture loss, protein loss, fat loss, and ash loss by cooking methods. Boiling and cooking the chicken stead with a convection oven caused roughly 27.5% cooking loss, grilling roughly 22% cooking loss, microwaving roughly 20.5% cooking loss, and superheated steam roughly 10.5% cooking loss. Although the study does not explicitly say, we are assuming that most of that loss was from lost moisture during the cooking process.
Compared to turning the meat jerky through the dehydration process, the cooking loss from other forms of cooking are incredibly mild. The other forms of preparing meat require a much smaller input of meat to produce a set cooked weight than jerky. However, those other forms of cooking do not have many of the benefits of jerky; namely they do not have a long shelf life after cooking. Jerky, especially Flying G beef jerky, can be taken almost anywhere and will stay fresh and not spoil for a very long time. Also, you do not sacrifice quality when you eat Flying G Jerky as our beef jerky is like eating a steak on the go!
Compared to cooking with other methods, the dehydrating process used to make jerky pulls much more moisture (and some fat and a trace amount of protein) from the meat; anywhere from a 2 to 1 to a 3 to 1 ratio. As stated above, the amount of moisture removed depends on the kind of meat used, the type of muscle used, the leanness of the cut, and the desired moisture level of the finished jerky. This means that a typical jerky requires roughly 2.5 pounds of meat input to produce 1 pound of jerky output, whereas meat cooked using other methods can vary from a 1.5 to 1 ratio or greater at the high end to a 1.1 to 1 ratio at the low end.
Compared more simply, 5 pounds of meat “cooked” by grilling will yield roughly 3.9 pounds of finished meat, whereas 5 pounds of meat dehydrated and turned into jerky will yield roughly 2 pounds of finished jerky. This is part of the reason jerky can appear to be so expensive at first glance. Its packaged weight appears pricey per ounce, but when the nutrients of 2 pounds of Flying G beef jerky are compared to 3.9 pounds of beef cooked in some other fashion, our beef jerky packs just as much of a protein punch as the heavier “cooked” meat.