Optimizing Jerky Drying Time with Minimal Product Impact

Timothy J. Bowser*, R. Scott Frazier, Paul R. Weckler, Stacey J. Kowalski
Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA.

© 2009 Bowser et al.;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Tel: 405-744-6313; Fax: 405-744-6688; E-mail:


Jerky products are a popular snack in today’s society. The process of making jerky products is very time consuming –especially the dehydration process. If the process is sped up the producer will save time and money. This study focuses mainly on speeding up dehydration time with minimal potential impact on the final product. Beef jerky was our test product and was made from eye of round sliced to 5 mm, vacuum packaged and frozen to -10C. The product was marinated in a jerky seasoning for 1 hour. A two level factorial array experiment was designed to identify the optimum levels of four control factors that could affect dehydration time: pH, freeze/thaw, product orientation, and tenderization. Half of the packages were thawed at 5C and then refrozen to account for two levels of freeze-thaw cycles. The two pH levels were “unadjusted” and “adjusted”. White vinegar was added to the marinade to adjust the pH to within 5 to 5.25. Half of the jerky samples were tenderized by adding 0.5 mg of a commercial liquid papain preparation to the marinade. The meat was pasteurized under a wet bulb temperature of 60C for 12 min and dried for 5 hours at 65C dry bulb. Treatments were repeated in triplicate. Tenderizer had the greatest effect on reducing the dehydration time, followed by adjusted pH and vertical orientation. Dehydration times for all experiments averaged 258 min and ranged from 146 to 386 min. A response optimization model predicted (95% confidence level) a dehydration time of 178 min.

Keywords: Jerky, drying time, optimization, pH, orientation.