Is beef jerky cooked or just dehydrated?

Corn jerky is a fully cooked product. Of course, the mere fact of cooking meat does not conserve it.


can last a long time without spoiling because it contains very little moisture. The answer to the question of whether jerky is cooked may seem obvious to most, but you'll be surprised at how often it's asked.

Most people just want to check that they're not eating anything raw, which isn't the case, so the simplest answer is yes, since jerky isn't raw. However, it is not “cooked” in a conventional way, such as in an oven or on a stove, as you might believe. Therefore, the way dried meat is prepared is by dehydrating it. This process gives dried meat a unique ability not to spoil, since it drains the vast majority of moisture and also produces it.

Since jerky is probably one of the most popular snacks around the world, it's a little strange how many people don't understand how it's made and what it means for the safety of eating it. However, to ensure food safety while preparing jerky, it's important to ensure that dried meats have reached an internal temperature of 160°F for beef or 165°F for chicken. This will provide a more accurate measurement of the actual internal temperature of the pieces of dried meat that are being precooked. Dry meat is certainly not raw, as it has been processed in a way that makes it as safe to eat as normally cooked meat is.

While the use of healing salt will help eliminate common bacterial growths in dried meat, the use of thinly sliced pre-cooked meats will help prevent foodborne illnesses. When you plan to prepare jerky, to be completely safe, you must steam or grill the meat strips at temperatures of at least 160°F, as recommended by the USDA meat and poultry hotline. I had to learn to cook out of necessity, but it has become a hobby that I (and my family) enjoy immensely. But to be honest, even undercooked jerky is edible in most cases, so as long as you store it properly, you don't have to worry about eating it.

To achieve quick drying without the use of high temperatures, which would cook the meat, the meat must be cut into slices or finely pressed. In addition, jerky made with pre-cooked meat looks (and even tastes) different from normal, which may repel some consumers. If the pot or dehydrator cannot heat the inside of the meat to the right temperature to kill bacteria, it will need to be cooked beforehand. However, when preparing dried meat, if it is not heated enough, the internal temperature of the meat strips does not reach high enough temperatures, so the bacteria will survive.

The same is true when it comes time to make jerky, chicken jerky, or any other type of jerky. Most of the time, jerky hasn't gone through the traditional cooking process, but with that said, it's crucial to understand that dehydration does much the same thing to meat. Primarily, make sure you heat the meat to 160°F (71°C) for a while before starting actual dehydration.

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