Beef jerky is clearly a primal snack. It’s meat. It’s easy. And it’s yummy. I love beef jerky but I rarely buy it because it is pricey and contains a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce (which is never good).
Last Christmas I asked for a dehydrator and my parents got me one because they rock. I love practical gifts. This one is about $60 but you can find them for around $35/40 too. I did a little research and liked the reviews on this one on Amazon, gave my mom the name and description and voila:
I am a little embarrassed that it has taken me this long to bust it out of the box, but I am putting it to good use today and making our first batch of home made beef jerky. How perfect is it when you control all the ingredients going into food for your family?
A few general tips…
- Choose lean meats with small amounts of marbling (grass fed beef is ideal for this of course!). If there is any excess fat, cut it off. This is especially important if you are making a big batch because the fat can get rancid during storage. Flank steak, London broil or round steak are good choices.
- Freeze the meat a little before slicing, it makes it easier to cut. Cut even 1/4 inch slices. Uniform slices are key so they dry in the same rate.
- Cut against the grain so it is not too chewy.
- Use your own marinade with ingredients you have on hand to save $$.
- The longer the meat marinates the more flavorful. But marinating for an hour will work well in a pinch.
- The duration of drying depends on the type of meat, the humidity that day and how loaded the machine is. It can take anywhere from 3-15 hours. In general I think 3-5 hours is fine. Our batch took 4 hours on a rainy day.
Marinades come in so many varieties and it is fun to experiment. I put together a general guide to follow that I think makes it pretty simple. Plus you can always make a great jerky with what you have on hand and improvise. Taste the marinade and adjust before using it. This way you aren’t hunting for expensive ingredients you might not use all the time:
- Equal portions of organic vinegar (apple, balsamic, red wine, whatevs) & coconut aminos, tamari, or a homemade worcestershire sauce
- Garlic powder
- Other seasonings like rosemary, ginger, sage, curry
- Something sweet like honey or maple can add an additional layer of flavor too, but certainly not required
- A little water
I used a recipe I found on Robb Wolf’s website here and modified it with rosemary instead of sage. I used 1 lb of grass-fed beef and 1 lb of organic antibiotic/hormone free beef just to save a few bucks. Here are the before and after pics:
Total spend = $25.61 for 2 pounds of homemade jerky.
Compare that to $21.31 for only 10 ounces of organic beef jerky.
Try it out and let me know how it is! If you have a great recipe, please share. 🙂