I got around to making this with my oven set at 175 degrees. It dried it out in the oven this way for about 8 hours. Tough as heck, but it worked. I figure if I had a fireplace I could do the same thing.
Okay so I have a couple different ways to do it without electricity.....Only because my gramps taught me when I was a kid.
You can slice your meat extremely thin. Thin is the key. Soak liberally in some liquid smoke, salt, and any other spices you prefer for at least 24 hours. He used thick thread, or fishing line, and would sew it through the thin slices of meat and tie the pieces onto a "clothes line". He always did his inside, he strung the main line up in front of his woodburner where it was super hot air. Works like a charm, takes about 2 full days to dry.
I have a manual grinder (it's a workout) so it comes out like hamburger. Add your seasonings to the burger (lots of salt) and you can flatten it into disks or use a jerkey shooter (I have done both and they are equally good) and lay on racks to dry. I use a dehydrator w/ a blower. But if you have no electricity put racks indoors where they can get lots of sunlight and air.
***I just saw where people were using old wrecked cars as "food dehydrators". Laying the racks on the back seats. It would probably work pretty well, because think how hot a parked car gets in the summer.
the traditional way is to build a thin rack of green wood over a small, slow burning fire. This is done in like alaska where the air is quite dry, the fire and smoke is just to keep the flies off the meat. After a day and a night adding small amounts it should be ready. Also places like utah, arizona, california and nevada can air dry meat because it is so uniformly dry there. The other way is to add more heat and time until the meat becomes very dry to the touch and hard, then there is also pemmican. I store stuff I make in the dehydrator when i see a sale on chuck or other cuts that yield a lot. It's not the real deal but closer to the stuff you buy at the gas station.
typically it is done as has been said by using green wood smoke... the fire must be relatively cold, you do NOT want to bake the meat, cut the meat with the grain into thin uniform strips... start a small life and fee it lots of green wood, you are looking for nitrates in the smoke to draw the water out as well as drying it. lots of fast moving COLD dry air is the best way to dry meat.
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