Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Documentation for jerky (or salted meat)

Janurary's Twilight Tourney, though a small affair, was quite fun. The tourney itself was quite small but I think I got the most enjoyment out of entering all but one of the A&S competitions available. I painted my shield (it's beautiful), I made a heraldic saddle cloth for the Elephant, I made some preserved fruits (cumquats and lemons) AND I attempted jerky for the first time.

In fact, I made three kinds!

1)      Guaranteed not to kill you preserved meat.
2)      Experimental preserved meat
3)      Modern jerky using the medieval processes
(strips cut with the grain, squares cut across the grain)

I started by hopping on the internets and researching jerky and salted meat. The theory is very easy, sufficient salt will dehydrate the meat and prevent bacteria. I admit, I’m very modern and prefer my meat from a refrigerator. I found a few webpages refereeing to the Le Menagier de Paris, a medieval cookbook from 1393. I then found a translation of this cookbook by J Hinson.

Source [Le MenagiƩr de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: Venison of Deer or Other Beast, If you wish to salt it in summer, it is appropriate to salt it in a wash-tub or bath, ground coarse salt, and after dry it in the sun. Haunch, that is the rump, which is salted, should be cooked first in water and wine for the first boiling to draw out the salt: and then throw out the water and wine, and after put to partly cook in a bouillon of meat and turnips, and serve in slices with some of the liquid in a dish and venison.

I also found some articles of Stefans florigium (first ever visit to the florigium, where have you been all my life oh tertiary documentation?) and a quick search produced this recipe:

Lord's Salt
Icelandic p. 215/D1
One shall take cloves and mace, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, ginger an equal weight of each except cinnamon, of which there shall be just as much as of all the others, and as much baked bread as all that has been said above. And he shall cut it all together and grind it in strong vinegar; and put it in a cask. That is their salt and it is good for half a year.

How to Make Use of the Salt Spoken of Above
Icelandic p. 215/D1
When a man wants to use of this salt, he shall boil it in a pan over coals without flame. Then he shall take venison of hart or roe and carefully garnish with fat and roast it. And cut it up well burned; and when the salt is cold than the meat shall be cut up therein with a little salt. Then it can lie for three weeks. So a man may long keep geese, ducks, and other game if he cuts them thin. This is the best salt the gentry have.

So I tried a mix of both methods.

1)     Guaranteed not to kill you – preserved meat
I had a worry about poisioning people with my meat as this was my first attempt. So I adapted the Icelandic method with the Le Menagier method. I took half a kilt of meet, sliced it and boiled it in a brine mix. 1 cup salt, 2 cups water, ¼ teaspoon sumac, ¼ teaspoon thyme, ¼ mixed peppers and ½ brown sugar (as I had no honey). I boiled the meat until it was tough and grey.
Being a modern sort of girl with a deadline I decided not to dry my meat in the sun. Instead I borrowed a fruit dryer and dried it for 8 hours. My thin cut strips turned very dry and powdery. They are quite salty and would work well for stews or long term meat.

2)     Experimental preserved meat
After the success of 1, I decided to try the same brine mix in the Le Menagier method of soaking (marinating) and then drying. To this mix I added 4 table spoons of brown sugar as well as the rest of the ingredients listed above. The meat was soaked for 24 hours and then placed in the dryer. Due to the increase in sugar, the jerky is softer than the first version. It is just as salty but is still pliable. It would be better to eat by itself but will probably grown mold quicker than 1.

3)     Modern jerky
To appeal to modern tastes I used the same process as 2. I soaked the meat in a mix of soy, ketjup manis, teriyaki sauce, pepper and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. The soy stands in place of the salt used in recipe in 1 and 2. This jerky is much more moist, and a lot closer to modern jerky. I am convinced it’s the sugar that takes the place of some of the salt and helps retain the moisture in the meat. This one is a lot more flavourful and was gone by the end of the night.

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