Uncover How to Make Ham Jerky: Your Tasty DIY Guide

  • By: Chester Brown
  • Time to read: 15 min.
Chester Brown
Introducing Chester Brown, the creative force behind Flying Jerky and the visionary author behind the exhilarating journey chronicled on flyingjerky.com. Chester's passion for adventure and premium jerky has converged to create a unique platform that not only celebrates the thrill of exploration but also tantalizes taste buds with the finest jerky selections.

Making your own ham jerky is a delicious and satisfying DIY project that allows you to transform regular ham into a flavorful and convenient on-the-go snack. With a few simple steps, you can create this tasty treat right in your own kitchen. Follow this step-by-step guide to discover how to make ham jerky and enjoy this homemade goodness whenever you want.

Contents show

Key Takeaways:

  • Homemade ham jerky is a customizable, cost-effective, and healthier alternative to store-bought jerky.
  • Choosing lean precooked sliced ham is crucial for successful dehydration.
  • Prepare the ham by cutting it into strips and arranging them on dehydrator trays in a single layer.
  • Dehydrate the ham jerky at 145°F for approximately 6 hours, blotting off excess oil during the process.
  • Cool the jerky and store it in airtight containers for optimum freshness and shelf life.

Why Make Your Own Ham Jerky?

There are several reasons why making your own ham jerky is a great idea. Firstly, homemade ham jerky allows you to control the ingredients and flavors, giving you the freedom to customize the taste to your liking. Whether you prefer it spicy, smoky, or sweet, you can experiment with different marinades and seasonings to create your perfect flavor profile.

Secondly, making ham jerky at home is a cost-effective alternative to store-bought options. Instead of spending a fortune on pre-packaged jerky, you can use lean, precooked sliced ham, which is easily accessible and affordable. This not only saves you money, but it also ensures that you know exactly what goes into your jerky.

Lastly, homemade ham jerky is a healthier option compared to commercial brands. By making it yourself, you have the ability to reduce or eliminate additives and preservatives commonly found in store-bought jerky. This allows you to enjoy a wholesome and nutritious snack that aligns with your dietary preferences and requirements.

Making your own ham jerky gives you full control over the ingredients and allows you to customize the flavors to your liking. It’s a cost-effective and healthier alternative compared to store-bought options.

So why wait? Start making your own homemade ham jerky today and enjoy the delicious flavors and convenience it offers!

Table: Benefits of Making Your Own Ham Jerky

Benefits Explanation
Customizable flavors You have control over the ingredients and can experiment with different flavors.
Cost-effective Using lean, precooked sliced ham is more budget-friendly than buying pre-packaged jerky.
Healthier option You can reduce or eliminate additives and preservatives commonly found in commercial jerky.

Choosing the Right Ham for Jerky

When it comes to making ham jerky, selecting the right type of ham is crucial. Opt for lean precooked sliced ham, which has lower fat and moisture content compared to other types of ham. This is important because it allows for successful dehydration and ensures a desirable texture in the finished jerky. You can easily find this type of ham at grocery stores, usually labeled as suitable for sandwiches or deli meat.

It’s also important to ensure that the ham slices are of consistent thickness. This ensures even drying and a uniform texture in the final jerky. So, when purchasing the ham, look for slices that are similar in thickness or use a sharp knife to cut the ham into evenly sized strips.

Choosing the right ham is the foundation of great ham jerky. With lean precooked sliced ham, you’re already off to a great start in creating delicious and flavorful jerky.

Comparison of Ham Types for Jerky

Ham Type Fat Content Moisture Content Recommended for Jerky?
Lean Precooked Sliced Ham Low Low Yes
Smoked Ham Medium Medium No
Honey-Glazed Ham High High No

“Choosing the right type of ham sets the stage for creating delicious ham jerky. Lean precooked sliced ham is the ideal choice due to its lower fat and moisture content. This allows for successful dehydration and results in a chewy and flavorful jerky. So, be sure to pick up some lean precooked sliced ham for your next jerky-making adventure!”

Preparing the Ham for Dehydration

Now that you have selected the right ham for jerky-making, it’s time to prepare it for dehydration. This crucial step ensures that your ham jerky turns out perfectly chewy and flavorful. Follow these simple steps to get started.

  1. Cut the ham slices into strips: Begin by cutting the ham slices into strips that are approximately 3/4 to 1 inch wide. This size is ideal for achieving the desired texture in your finished jerky.
  2. Arrange on dehydrator trays in a single layer: Next, lay out the ham strips on the dehydrator trays, making sure they are arranged in a single layer. This allows for efficient airflow and even drying throughout the dehydration process.

By cutting the ham slices into strips and arranging them in a single layer on the dehydrator trays, you are setting the stage for successful dehydration. This process ensures that each piece of ham jerky receives equal amounts of heat and airflow, resulting in a consistent and delicious end product.

“Properly preparing your ham for dehydration is key to achieving the perfect texture and taste in your homemade jerky.”

Remember, the goal is to remove the moisture from the ham slices while preserving their delicious flavor. By following these steps and taking care to cut and arrange the ham properly, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your very own homemade ham jerky.

Dehydrating the Ham Jerky

Now that you have prepared your ham strips, it’s time to dehydrate them and transform them into delicious jerky. This step is crucial in removing the moisture from the ham and achieving that perfect chewy texture. Set your dehydrator to a temperature of 145°F, which is ideal for drying meat. Let the dehydrator run for approximately 6 hours to ensure that the ham jerky is thoroughly dried.

While the ham jerky is dehydrating, you may notice some excess oil accumulating on the surface. To enhance the overall texture and shelf life of the jerky, it’s important to blot off this oil. Simply use paper towels to gently absorb the excess oil, leaving you with a healthier and more flavorful snack.

During the drying process, keep an eye on the ham jerky and adjust the drying time based on your preference for texture and doneness. Some individuals prefer a softer, more tender jerky, while others enjoy a chewier consistency. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect balance that suits your taste.

Table: Dehydration Tips and Recommendations

Temperature Drying Time Texture
145°F 6 hours Chewy
150°F 5 hours Medium chewy
155°F 4 hours Tender

Pro Tip: Experiment with different drying times and temperatures to find your preferred texture. Keep in mind that the thickness of the ham will also affect the drying time, so adjust accordingly.

Once the ham jerky is fully dehydrated to your liking, remove it from the dehydrator and let it cool completely. This will prevent any condensation from forming and ensure that your jerky stays dry and fresh. Once cooled, you can break the jerky into smaller, bite-sized pieces for easy snacking. Store the ham jerky in airtight containers to maintain its freshness and enjoy it as a protein-packed snack whenever you need a savory pick-me-up.

Cooling and Storing the Ham Jerky

Once the ham jerky is dehydrated and has reached the desired texture, it is important to let it cool completely before storing. This will prevent condensation and moisture buildup in the storage container.

During the cooling process, the ham jerky will firm up and become more chewy, so be patient and resist the temptation to dig in right away. Letting it cool also allows the flavors to fully develop, resulting in a more delicious snacking experience.

After the ham jerky has cooled, break it into smaller, easily snackable pieces. This makes it more convenient for on-the-go snacking and portion control. Plus, the smaller pieces are perfect for adding to salads, trail mix, or using as a topping for soups and stews.

Store your homemade ham jerky in airtight containers to maintain freshness and extend its shelf life. Mason jars, resealable bags, or food storage containers with tight-fitting lids are all great options. Just make sure the containers are clean and dry before adding the jerky. Stored properly, homemade ham jerky can typically be enjoyed for up to a couple of weeks.

Ham Jerky Storage Tips:

  • Keep the jerky away from direct sunlight and heat sources, as this can cause it to spoil faster.
  • Label your containers with the date to help you keep track of the jerky’s freshness.
  • Avoid storing the jerky in large quantities if you don’t plan on consuming it quickly, as frequent container opening can introduce moisture.

“Letting your ham jerky cool completely and storing it in airtight containers ensures that you can enjoy this tasty snack whenever cravings strike!”

Comparison of Storage Methods for Ham Jerky:

Storage Method Shelf Life Key Considerations
Room Temperature Up to a couple of weeks – Ensure airtight containers
– Keep away from heat and sunlight
Refrigeration Up to several months – Use airtight containers
– Label the date of storage
– Protect from moisture and odors

Flavor Variations for Ham Jerky

While plain ham jerky is delicious on its own, you can take your homemade jerky to the next level by experimenting with different flavor variations. Adding unique seasonings and marinades can enhance the taste and offer a variety of snacking options.

Western Meat Jerky

One popular flavor variation is Western Meat Jerky. This combination of classic flavors brings a tasty twist to your ham jerky. To make Western Meat Jerky, you can mix ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. The result is a savory and robust flavor that will satisfy your taste buds.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

If you’re looking for a tangy and spicy kick, Thai sweet chili sauce is a great choice. This flavorful sauce pairs perfectly with ham jerky, creating a delicious fusion of sweet and spicy. To incorporate Thai sweet chili sauce into your ham jerky recipe, simply brush the sauce onto the ham strips before dehydrating. The result is a tantalizing jerky that will leave you craving more.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your flavor variations. You can experiment with different marinades, spices, and seasonings to create a flavor profile that suits your preferences. Whether you prefer sweet, spicy, smoky, or tangy flavors, there are endless possibilities to explore when making your own homemade ham jerky.

Tips and Tricks for Making Ham Jerky

When it comes to making delicious ham jerky at home, there are a few key tips and tricks that can help you achieve the best results. Follow these expert recommendations to ensure your ham jerky is flavorful, tender, and packed with deliciousness.

Choose Lean Cuts

Start by selecting lean cuts of ham for your jerky. Lean cuts have less fat, which helps with dehydration and results in a better texture. Look for lean, precooked sliced ham that is readily available at your local grocery store. Avoid choosing ham with excessive marbling, as this can lead to greasy jerky.

Slice Thinly and Evenly

When preparing your ham for dehydration, it’s important to slice it thinly and evenly. Thin slices will dehydrate more quickly and evenly, resulting in a more consistent texture. Use a sharp knife or a meat slicer to achieve thin slices of about 3/4 to 1 inch wide. Ensuring the slices are even in thickness will help them dry at the same rate.

Use Curing Salt

Adding curing salt to your ham jerky mixture is essential for food safety and flavor. Curing salt, also known as pink salt, contains sodium nitrite, which helps inhibit bacterial growth during the drying process. It also gives the jerky a characteristic pink color and enhances the flavor. Follow the recommended ratio of curing salt to meat in your recipe for the best results.

Use Liquid Smoke

To add a smoky flavor to your ham jerky, consider using liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is a concentrated form of smoke flavor that can be easily incorporated into your marinade or glaze. It provides a rich, smoky taste that mimics the flavors of traditional fire or wood smoking. Use it sparingly, as a little goes a long way.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to making delicious homemade ham jerky. Remember to experiment with flavors, spices, and seasonings to create a unique jerky experience. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your own flavorful and satisfying snack anytime, anywhere.

Equipment and Cooking Methods for Ham Jerky

When it comes to cooking ham jerky, you have several options for equipment and cooking methods. The most common options are using a dehydrator, oven, or smoker. Each method has its own advantages and considerations, so you can choose the one that suits your preferences and resources.

Dehydrator

A dehydrator is a popular choice for making ham jerky because it offers precise temperature control and even airflow. To use a dehydrator, simply arrange the prepared ham strips on the dehydrator trays in a single layer, ensuring they are not overlapping. Set the temperature to around 145°F and let it run for approximately 6 hours, or until the jerky reaches your desired texture. Dehydrators are efficient and produce consistently good results.

Oven

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can make ham jerky in your oven. Preheat the oven to the lowest possible temperature, usually around 170°F. Place the ham strips on wire racks or directly on the oven grates, ensuring they are not touching. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Monitor the jerky closely to prevent burning, and adjust the cooking time as needed. It may take slightly longer in the oven compared to a dehydrator.

Smoker

If you love the smoky flavor, using a smoker is an excellent option for making ham jerky. Prepare your ham strips as usual and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for smoking. Generally, you would set the smoker to a low temperature, usually around 150°F, and smoke the jerky for several hours until it reaches the desired texture and flavor. Smoking adds a unique depth of flavor to the ham jerky, but keep in mind that it may take longer than other methods.

Whether you choose a dehydrator, oven, or smoker, each method can produce delicious homemade ham jerky. Experiment with different equipment and cooking methods to discover your favorite technique. With a little practice, you’ll be able to make perfect ham jerky every time.

Storing and Enjoying Ham Jerky

Proper storage is essential for maintaining the quality and flavor of your homemade ham jerky. Here are some tips to ensure that your ham jerky stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible:

Storage Containers

Store your ham jerky in airtight containers to prevent moisture absorption and exposure to air, which can lead to spoilage. Mason jars or resealable plastic bags are great options for storing jerky. Make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing the container to maintain freshness.

Shelf Life

Depending on the ingredients and seasonings used, homemade ham jerky can typically be stored at room temperature for a couple of weeks. However, for longer shelf life, it is recommended to refrigerate the jerky. When refrigerated, ham jerky can remain fresh for up to several months, ensuring that you have a steady supply of tasty snacks on hand.

Enjoying Ham Jerky

Ham jerky can be enjoyed as a protein-packed snack on its own, providing a flavorful and convenient option for on-the-go munching. It can also be incorporated into your favorite recipes to add an extra kick of flavor and texture. Whether you’re enjoying it straight from the container or using it as an ingredient in a recipe, ham jerky is sure to satisfy your cravings.

Storage Method Shelf Life
Room Temperature A couple of weeks
Refrigeration Up to several months

Jerky Variations with Different Meats

While ham jerky is a delicious option, you can also explore making jerky with different types of meat to add variety to your snacking options. Here are some popular variations:

1. Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is a classic choice when it comes to making homemade jerky. It offers a rich and savory flavor that is loved by many. Choose lean cuts of beef, such as top round or eye of round, and slice them thinly and evenly for the best results. You can marinate the beef in your favorite seasoning blend or experiment with different flavors to create a unique taste.

2. Turkey Jerky

For a lighter and leaner option, try making turkey jerky. Turkey is a healthier alternative to beef, as it is lower in fat and calories. It also offers a slightly milder flavor that pairs well with various seasonings. Choose boneless turkey breast and slice it into thin strips. Marinate the turkey in your preferred marinade for a few hours or overnight before dehydrating.

3. Venison Jerky

If you’re a fan of game meats, venison jerky is a must-try. Venison is lean and flavorful, offering a unique taste that sets it apart from other meats. Look for high-quality venison cuts, such as the backstrap or hindquarter, and slice them thinly. Marinate the venison in a flavorful blend of spices and herbs, and then dehydrate to perfection.

4. Ground Beef Jerky

Ground beef jerky is a convenient and easy-to-make option if you don’t have access to whole cuts of meat or prefer a different texture. Start by choosing lean ground beef and mixing it with your desired seasonings. Form the mixture into thin, uniform strips or use a jerky gun to shape it. Dehydrate until the ground beef jerky reaches your desired level of chewiness.

These variations allow you to explore different flavors and textures, providing a range of options to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer the boldness of beef, the leanness of turkey, the gamey flavor of venison, or the convenience of ground beef, making jerky with different meats adds excitement and variety to your snacking experience.

Table: Comparison of Jerky Variations with Different Meats

Meat Texture Flavor Lean Calories
Beef Jerky Chewy Rich and savory Yes Varies based on cut
Turkey Jerky Tender Milder Yes Low
Venison Jerky Lean and chewy Gamey Yes Varies based on cut
Ground Beef Jerky Chewy Customizable Varies based on fat content Varies based on fat content

Conclusion

Creating your own homemade ham jerky is a rewarding and delicious endeavor that allows you to enjoy a flavorful and nutritious snack. By following this step-by-step guide, you can easily make your own ham jerky in the comfort of your own kitchen. With control over the ingredients and flavors, you can customize the taste to your liking and ensure a healthier alternative to store-bought options.

Experimenting with different flavor variations such as Western Meat Jerky or Thai sweet chili sauce can add exciting new dimensions to your ham jerky. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try out unique marinades, spices, and seasonings to make the jerky truly your own.

Remember to store your homemade ham jerky properly in airtight containers to maintain its freshness and extend its shelf life. Enjoy the convenience of having a protein-packed snack readily available whenever you need a quick, tasty bite. So why wait? Start making your own ham jerky today and indulge in the mouthwatering flavors it has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Have some burning questions about making your own ham jerky? Look no further! We’ve got you covered with answers to some commonly asked questions:

Q: Can I use any type of ham for making jerky?

A: When making ham jerky, it is best to use lean precooked sliced ham. This type of ham has less fat and moisture content, which is essential for successful dehydration.

Q: How long does homemade ham jerky last?

A: When stored properly in airtight containers, homemade ham jerky can typically be enjoyed for up to a couple of weeks at room temperature. However, for longer shelf life, you can refrigerate the jerky to extend its freshness for up to several months.

Q: Can I add my own flavors and seasonings to the ham jerky?

A: Absolutely! One of the great things about making your own ham jerky is the ability to customize the flavors to your liking. Feel free to experiment with different marinades, spices, and seasonings to create a flavor profile that suits your preferences.

FAQ

What type of ham should I use to make ham jerky?

It is recommended to use lean precooked sliced ham, which is readily available at grocery stores and labeled as suitable for sandwiches or deli meat.

How should I prepare the ham slices before dehydrating them?

Cut the ham slices into strips, approximately 3/4 to 1 inch wide. Arrange the strips on dehydrator trays in a single layer without overlapping.

How long should I dehydrate the ham jerky for?

Set your dehydrator to a temperature of 145°F and let it run for approximately 6 hours. Adjust the drying time based on your preference for texture and doneness.

How should I store the homemade ham jerky?

After cooling the jerky completely, break it into smaller pieces and store it in airtight containers to maintain freshness. It can typically be enjoyed for up to a couple of weeks at room temperature or several months if refrigerated.

Can I make ham jerky with different flavors?

Yes, you can experiment with different marinades, spices, and seasonings to create a variety of flavor profiles for your ham jerky.

Can I use different equipment besides a dehydrator to make ham jerky?

Yes, you can use an oven or smoker as alternative cooking methods for making ham jerky.

Can I make jerky with meats other than ham?

Absolutely! You can explore making jerky with different types of meat, such as beef, turkey, venison, or even ground beef.