Well, I was looking for a way to knock sweets out of the kids diet and made the mistake of introducing beef jerky. Well, it was a huge success. But given that it's more expensive than t-bone steaks ... I was quickly in an untenable situation. So for christmas, I suggest that someone get me a dehydrator so I could make my own. Sure enough, come Christmas day, I got two. One was the 5 tray flying saucer Ronco special, and the other, the Eastman kit (wallymart special). Well, I fired up the computer and downloaded a bunch of jerky recipies, got in some meat and hit the kitchen. The first batch was a couple of pounds of flank steak sliced and marinaded in a mix of soy/worcheshire and spices and run for a quarter day in the Ronco. And it started disappearing in a hurry. Fast forward a week, and Saturday I decided to try out the Eastman. Well, the Eastman consists of an 18" square rack, some Jerky cure, and a caulking gun. No, I'm not shitting you. You mix the cure with 5lbs of burger and stuff it into the gun, then squeeze out either half inch flat sticks, or quarter inch round sticks. (Look a lot like those doggy treats). Well, I'd buggered up buying pork for my Lorne sausage and instead of pork bought a few pounds of mixed beef/pork/veal. Not knowing how that would affect my sausage recipe, I'd put it aside, but now I saw something I could use it up on. I added a bit more pork and beef to make up the 5lbs, added the jerky cure and let it sit overnight. Well, yesterday I pull it out and start squirting it out onto the drying rack provided. And it's quickly obvious that someone missed the boat somewhere, because that rack is quickly full, and I'm nowhere near done with the mix. No problem. I'm still in experiment mode where this is all concerned, so I'll try firing some of it onto the racks of the Ronco and see how that turns out. After all, being in experiment mode, if all of this is wasted ... no skin off my nose. It's a learning process at this stage. So I fire off one tray of the flat sticks. Still not making any great dent in the meat supply. Go for broke. Another Ronco tray, this time of the round ... and I just make it a bullseye. Meat rings. Cool. Still loads of meat. Next tray is an unbroken string, round and round in a spiral. Plenty left, do another one of them. Last Ronco tray, a spiral of the flat. Well crap, I'm all out of racks ... and I've still got meat left. Damn, this is starting to get to be serious work. My arm's cramping from squeezing this damn gun. Pull out a regular baking rack and finally finish up on that. Barely had enough room, but I manage. Well, the baking rack and the Eastwood rack go in the oven at 200, with the oven door wedged open with a ball of tinfoil. The Ronco goes on and the waiting begins. Every hour I check it ... and it's soon obvious that the fat content required for good sausage isn't the fat content recommended for goot jerky. This stuff is sweating something fierce. But what the hell. Hour after hour go by , rotate the racks now and then .... and finally the first racks are ready. Pull one out, get it unstuck, and paper towel the grease off the top. Not much grease looks to be lift in, but I decide to leave the other racks to got another couple of hours. Offer up a few tasters and the consensus is, back in it goes. Needs more drying. Well, another hour and that one comes back out to try again. Sure enough, the paper towel tells the story. It needed that extra. Now I should mention that the kids have experimented with the store bought flavours and they've got their favorites. And we usually have several types in the house at any time. Beef, Peppered, Turkey and Buffalo. Well, how should the kids identify this new homemade stuff? Well, it was soon named : Piggy jerky. Well, fully half of the first rack of piggy jerky never made if off the paper towel into storage ... unless you count little bellies as storage. I'd hear a noise behind me, and as I turned, the scamper of feet running off, and paper towel left empty. The Ronco stuff wasn't as quick, and did have to be moved about on the racks. As with any good experiment, I discovered that the stuff at the centre of the trays doesn't get the same heat as at the outer edges. But the spiral rounds look exactly like the 8' string of jerky they sell at wallymart. Needs more spice to pep it up tho. That's not a bad thing, in my book, since it's easier for the boys to eat. V2.0 prefers the first batch tho, with the soy/worcheshire. I'm anxiously waiting to see how this is gonna reflect in the grocery bill.