Can I use previously frozen meat to make sausage or jerky?

Yes… Freezing is one of the most effective methods of preserving meat. It almost completely inactivates meat enzymes and inhibits the growth of microorganisms which cause spoilage. 

Meat should be quick frozen at a temperature of at least-20°C.

The actual freezing temperature for most meats is approximately -2°C. Meat cells contain 65 - 75% water which will form crystals when frozen. The degree of crystallization and the size of the crystals will vary with the speed of freezing. Slow freezing causes the water to separate into pools. This, in turn, creates large crystals that may stretch and rupture some of the meat cells. Upon thawing, water from the ruptured cells will drain away resulting in the loss of proteins, vitamins and other nutrients.

Slowly frozen meat has a less acceptable level of hydration after thawing. With rapid freezing there is very little water separation thus, in fast-frozen meats, the crystals are smaller and less destructive. Fast frozen meat can be thawed and refrozen without any loss of quality. Caution must be exercised when thawing and refreezing meat to ensure microbial growth does not occur and that there is no cross-contamination. Thawing must take place in a refrigerated area with a temperature of 4°C or lower if food safety is to be maintained.

Drying or dehydrating stabilizes the product to prevent growth of micro-organisms. However, heat treatment with the appropriate humidity is required to kill or reduce the micro-organisms that may be currently present. All jerky must be heat treated (cooked) to ensure it is safe to consume. Simply dehydrating is not enough.


Muscle Selection: For whole muscle jerky, select lean muscles usually from the hip cuts. Trim all external fat, connective tissue, and silver skin from the muscle to ensure there are no undesirable characteristics after the cooking and drying process. Excess fat will create a greasy feel and may turn rancid, and the connective tissue/silver skin will dry out and be unpalatable.



Slicing: To achieve a long chewy strand that can be peeled and holds together during processing, slice whole muscles with the grain. To achieve a tender texture, slice across the grain. Muscles sliced across the grain may separate during processing. Pull each piece evenly through the slicer to ensure even thickness. Be cautious and ensure all fingers, hands, etc. remain a safe distance from the blade to prevent injury.



Brining: Prepare all ingredients as per the recipe and thoroughly mix in the water. Pour the mixture over the meat and gently separate the slices to ensure all surfaces are covered. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Mix lightly again after a few hours.



Racking: Lay all pieces flat on a perforated rack. Make sure to leave 1cm of space around each piece to allow air flow. Make sure pieces do not overlap.



Smoking/Cooking: Place in smokehouse at desired cooking and smoking temperatures- Ensure product reaches a minimum internal temperature of 71°C


Storing: All jerky must be stored ≤4°C unless it has been verified for shelf stability with a water activity meter. Product made in non-commercial kitchens/ovens should not be considered as shelf stable.


Ensure that the meat is maintained ≤4°C- preferably around 2°C.

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