Getting more flavor in my jerky.

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by ericksaint, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. ericksaint

    ericksaint Fire Starter

    So I've been playing around with some flavor combinations, This is all pretty new to me. I've been making marinades and doing small 1 pound or so batches in the oven, some I've done in the smoker, but the oven is just easier for doing taster batches and going about my day with zero babysitting.

    I'm curious how to go about getting a stronger flavor in some of the marinades, I'll list out a few examples below.

    I did a jalapeno lime jerky, the lime was faint but there, and the jalapeno was almost non existent. Now in this one I only pureed 2 large peppers, but I juiced about 8 (little over a cup) limes. The recipe called for 2 bottles of beer as part of the marinade, and I think this may have watered down the hot and lime a bit. It was suggested to try maybe including some lime zest in the recipe next time around, and of course maybe doing more peppers. As well as I think two bottles was WAY too much beer.

    I made a mango habanero that had about a perfect, maybe a bit light, heat to it. I used 5 peppers, easy to up the heat by just adding more pepper. But just wish that there was a little more to the mango flavor at the start. I used one whole mango, medium in size. Pureed the mango and peppers together with a few other things. It was a pretty thick marinade. Would this have worked better had I used mango juice instead of fresh mango? Or maybe more than one fresh mango?

    The last one I did was a more traditional soy based sweet and hot. That could have been both sweeter and hotter. But to achieve that, well in any of the above, I wasn't sure if it was just as simple as adding more of what I think it's lacking. It seems to me like there is plenty of everything in the recipes that I've been playing with, with the exception of the jalapenos. Is there a way to maybe get more flavor penetration? Most of the time the meat is in the marinade for at least 12-24 hours, in the jalapeno lime above it was in there closer to 32 hours before I put it in the oven.

    Can any of you guys that have been doing this a while give me some tips on increasing the flavors.
  2. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, I know when I use my vacuum tumbler about 90% of the liquid gets absorbed by the meat.  I usually vacuum, tumble about 10 minutes, release the vacuum (this is what helps drive the marinade into the meat) and the re-vacuum and tumble another 10 or 15 minutes.  After that, a final release of the vacuum and then store the canister in the fridge overnight and smoke the next day.  Plenty of flavor infusion with that method.   It also depends on your marinade recipe.  It sounds like 2 bottles of beer is a lot of liquid base in that recipe you described.  Your flavor material would tend to get lost in that volume of beer for sure.  I generally only run 2 cups of marinade for a 5 pound batch of sliced whole muscle jerky.  So for me that's 16 ounces of total liquid with all spices vs 2 beers which will be between 24 and 32 ounces depending on bottle/can size.  See what I mean.

    I don't see what part of the country you are in, but if you are where you can get "Smoking Gun Jerky Marinade" that is some very good flavorful stuff.  I'm in GA and it costs as much to ship it to me as it does for the gallon of marinade, but I do like that stuff.  And I just ran out [​IMG]

    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  3. ericksaint

    ericksaint Fire Starter

    I've thought about the vacuum marinade actually have one of those in my Amazon wish list. But I've heard so many mixed opinions on whether it's a gimmick or not, that I've been questioning whether it works or not.

    I in the Milwaukee area, not sure on that marinade is available or not.
  4. I believe you did good by cutting back on the beer in your first recipe but how was the texture on that one? Seems like an aweful lot of acidic lime juice. Sometimes the acid helps drive in the big bold flavors but to much will actually start cooking the meat. Think ceviche-it's fish that is essentially 'cooked' in acid. I've done Jerky maybe a dozen times in my life and I guess I really don't see it as more then a flavor on the outside. How thick are your pieces? I'm thinking of the store bought hi-mountain brand which is just sprinkled on with the cure and sit overnight. I use it and like some of the flavors but it's still normally only on the outside. Just my worthless 2 cents :)
  5. I've played with a few recipes from  I've tried several kinds from there, and his teriyaki beef II (more of a home made teriyaki flavor than bottled) and garlic black pepper are my favorites so far, but his chili lime recipe also has a good flavor to it, and sounds more like what you're aiming for.  You could always roast some of your peppers on high heat before running them through the blender to up the heat as well or incorporate some of the membrane and seeds.  In my experience, most of the marinades I have used require just enough liquid to cover the meat and two bottles sounds a bit excessive to me as well.  How much meat were you starting with?
  6. ericksaint

    ericksaint Fire Starter

    I didn't cut the beer in this attempt, followed the recipe pretty true, but I will for sure next time if I try it again. The texture was about the same between both of these batches. Tender and pretty much perfect. I cut my meat about an inch wide against the grain, then run it through a 22 blade jerky slicer, that puts the pieces at about 1" wide by 1/4"thick. I've never tried any of the pre-made jerky kit type seasonings. You can kinda see my strip size here in this pic.

    I only had two jalapeños in the fridge and when I went to get more it was a sad selection. Recipe only called for two, and I had large ones so I left it, but they also called for two bottles of beer... I cleaned one out and used one whole with seeds and membranes. I was going for the flavor without a ton of heat. But the biggest flavor ended up being the lime in that recipe, can hardly taste any jalapeño. Never thought about roasting the peppers first. These two batches were a couple ounces over a pound each. I was just trying to work on flavors in small oven batches. Then once I get the flavors worked out I'll do them on the smoker. I've got a couple I smoke regularly, just trying some new stuff.
  7. In that case you could try the juice/brine from a jar of sliced jalapenos and cut the salt if any a bit. I use it in other marinades, and like the flavor it imparts, it just doesn't taste like fresh jalapeno unfortunately.  Or if you can get your hands on jalapeno oil, give that a shot.  I substituted chili oil in place of chili garlic sauce in the chili lime jerky recipe previously mentioned and both the chili flavor and lime came through quite nicely.
  8. ericksaint

    ericksaint Fire Starter

    Thanks for the tips, I wouldn't have thought about the oils. Even if I can't find them locally, I'm sure I can find them online. The recipe had a little salt in the way of about 1/2 cup of soy sauce. The mango one didn't have any salt added. Only a 1/4 tsp of cure #1 in each batch, and that's not enough to change the flavor profile.

    I'm going to check out that site. I think I may have already looked at it for ideas. I was looking all over for these two specifically and ended up kinda trying a hybrid for the mango one.
  9. Good luck in it. I did some cured yurkey legs last weekend and finished with a pineapple mango teriyaki glaze thrown together from jam from a local farm matket. That came out amazing so I understand the mango crave. A little pepper flavor would have been great in there but the wife would never allow it.
  10. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    ES, I always try to marinade for about 48 hours to let the flavors soak in.
  11. ericksaint

    ericksaint Fire Starter

    Thanks. I'm going to get another couple batches together to get in the smoker this weekend. My plan is to try getting all the marinades done tonight, with the exception on the cure #1, then tomorrow mix in the cure and finish cutting the meat. Right now it's just in big chunks. Then let it marinate Thursday night through Saturday morning when I get it on the smoker.
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Vacuum marinating will get you to the end product faster and it will get the flavor into the meat.

    You will find that you will have better success using powdered flavors rather than puréed fresh products. Yes you can get powdered jalapeno, powdered lime  and more than likely mango.

    When I am looking for different flavors I add dry spice to my base recipe.

    Also as mentioned already less liquid is your friend. Here is my go to base recipe. As you can see in the following thread, I have 1 cup of marinade for 6 pounds of meat.

    You can add whatever you want to it. Give it a try as is first then add to it.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  13. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I use a Kikkoman soy sauce based marinade and get a ton of flavor in an overnight to 24 hour soak.

    My marinade recipe is for 3 to 5 pounds of jerky
    • 20 oz. Kikkoman Soy Sauce
    • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke - your fave flavor
    • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
    • 4 or 5 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning
    • 1 or 2 teaspoons red pepper
    • a few drops of Dave's Ultimate Insanity sauce (I use this if my sons are home - it slows them down a bit ha ha)
    I cut the meat into thin slices, maybe 3/16th of an inch thick +/-

    Meat goes into a gallon Ziploc (or a bowl with a lid - but I now prefer the Ziploc)

    Dump the marinade into the meat-bag (or bowl)...squeeze out the air as much as possible out of the bag.  Throw it in the fridge for the desired marinade time.

    I have never heard of vaccuum marinating - now I need to look that up!  Eddie needs a new gadget!
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  14. ericksaint

    ericksaint Fire Starter

    I'll look into the powdered flavors, that's another thing I hadn't considered. I'll have to research the vacuum tumbler more. Not that it matters a ton, if I can do my prep work a few days ahead.

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