One of the tricky things about planning a big trip is making sure we’ll have healthy, tasty snacks the whole time and not have to resort to gas-station junk food or taking chances at an un-vetted restaurant that may have poorly sourced meat or fry everything in flour. I take two approaches to this: have a cooler full of frozen semi-perishables (that won’t spoil right away even if they do warm up) and have a cache of unperishables. For the Tour de NorthEast 2013, E and I tried something new: heart jerky!
Did I just say heart jerky? Yes! I just said heart jerky. There are a few reasons why heart is an excellent choice when making your own jerky:
1. You want your jerky meat to be lean, so that it’s easier to work with and it keeps longer — unrefrigerated, the fatty parts in the jerky will spoil first.
2. Organ meats are some of the most nutritionally dense parts of an animal.
Heart is about as lean as it gets, so it’s perfect for making jerky with minimal prep. Heart meat technically isn’t even an organ meat; the heart is just a muscle like any other muscle meat. But it’s grouped in with cuts like liver, kidney, and *shudder* brains because of its nutritional payload. Heart is super-high in CoQ10 (which is good for your heart! How about that!) as well as copper, zinc, vitamins A and B12, iron, selenium, and a whole bunch more important ones. Basically, it’s way more of a “superfood” than the media’s silly-fruit-of-the-week.
So, the last time E and I picked up a carload of meat from our Polyface Farm drop, we loaded up with 5 or 6 hearts. They’re super cheap, which makes this project even more doable on a regular basis!
From a semi-frozen state, E sliced them up with a mandolin slicer. We put the slices in a few ziplock-style bags, and dumped in a couple different marinades: combinations of fish sauce, coconut aminos, ginger juice, sriracha, and other spices. We let them sit overnight, and them laid them out on the dehydrator:
We dried them for 6-10 hours, until they were dry enough to qualify as jerky. You can also do this part in your oven if you set it to low and keep the door open. If you’re not sure though, this dehydrator was only about 50 bucks and has been going strong for over 2 years now, so I see it as a good investment.
After the pieces were dry, we bagged them up and they were ready to go!
They were the perfect salty, crunchy, sustaining snack for the 25 or so hours of driving during our 10 day trip, as well as an awesome camping breakfast.
Do you ever make beef jerky? Have you found other good ways of incorporating organ meat into your routines?
Until next time, here a peek into some of the other things we’ve been up to here at Chez Otterbein: