I love jerky, but it tends to be quite expensive. Squirrel provides an abundant source of lean meat, so I decided to try an experiment. The other morning, I killed five squirrels. After cleaning them, I broke them down into hind legs, front legs / shoulders, loins, rib cages, and belly meat. The belly meat is the perfect size and thickness to make jerky from, so I set it aside for this project.
After trimming any bits of fat and membrane from the belly meat, I prepared a marinade. The marinade is composed of liquid smoke, soy sauce, a small splash of apple cider vinegar, and a couple shakes of Louisiana hot sauce. A bit of black pepper and garlic powder was added for some additional spice and flavor. The meat was then marinated in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
After the meat had soaked for a couple hours, the stove was preheated to 250*F. I patted the meat dry and arranged them on a wire rack. They were then placed in the oven for a hour. The heat was then lowered to 175* for a couple more hours. Here’s the result:
I’m happy to say the jerky turned out great! As you can tell, I played it very safe with the temperatures, but it certainly didn’t affect the flavor and texture in any negative way. Squirrel doesn’t yield much belly meat, but groundhogs and raccoons do, so I’ll be doing the same thing with them! Read more about jerky safety guidelines.