Thursday, 17 July 2014

Jerky from Gilwell 24

Having posted recently about a successful bushcraft base at Gilwell24 Explorer Scout camp I thought I'd post about the jerky stand I set up with a couple of experimental things tried alongside the traditional, plus what meat marinades I chose.

The meat I used was a lean piece of topside (don't go any cheaper than silverside!) and I froze it for an hour and a half or so before slicing as it just gives it a little rigidity to get thin slices from but get a move on as it doesn't last long. 

I decided to do two marinades, a dry on and a wet one. The dry one is a shop purchased one, a Jamaican Jerk mix from Schwartz which has ingredients like cumin, salt, chilli, garlic and allspice in, and the wet mix was homemade and I combined teriyaki sauce (a posh soy sauce), a little cold strong tea, garlic powder and fresh grated ginger. The wildcards were cherry tomatoes with Schwartz Season All and a little sugar on which I cut into three so that each piece had either the stalk section or a large piece of skin for strength when suspended. The other thing I tried was thinly sliced chorizo, I decided on the former because when oven baked they develop an intense flavour, the latter because it is a powerhouse of flavour and I wondered if a day of smoking and drying might enhance it.

I made a rudimentary stand from four lengths of hazel and secured a shelf about chest height from the ground and used fresh bamboo as skewers. The foliage is a little locally sourced greenery (mainly nettles) and isn't thickly thatched but, as I know from doing jerky in this fire circle in the past, despite it being like an amphitheatre in shape there is a very faint breeze and this was just enough to combat it. The item to the left is a charcoal lighter converted into a stove.

I started it off with some charcoal (using the previously mentioned stove to fire it up) and topped the coals up with some fresh cherry wood that I'd bought along, as well as some wood chipping that I got with my Ronnie Sunshine smoker.

I decided to relocate the stand in the afternoon to catch more of the sun, it was warm but cloudy until lunchtime, by which time some high hawthorn branches were blocking the rays out. it was a good move but stand looked a little disheveled!

So the scores on the doors. A good amount of leader traffic stopping to look. The cherry toms, despite the salt and serious dabbings with kitchen roll didn't quite work in the time, and the chorizo was slightly smokey but otherwise unchanged...oh well, nothing ventured. The dry mix one was ready before the wet mix one which is no surprise because you are adding liquid to a product you are looking to remove it from so it often needs a little more time. I placed a few slightly larger wet mix pieces in a tray with a muslin secured over it in my garden the next day just to finish them off. In the past I've used  this method to make jerky at home but I made the ultimate poshcrafting jerky rig (he says without a hint of modesty!).

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