The best beef to make jerky is subjective. When you look at the beef jerky brands that you find in the grocery store, they generally have a formula, and tend to cut corners on the cuts of meat they use.
At home, the meat you use in beef jerky is entirely your decision. They vary in terms of toughness, thickness, fat and sodium content, aging and many other factors. We’re going to show you how to pick the right cuts of beef for your jerky.
Homemade beef jerky in a meat dryer
Let’s say you’re looking to make the best beef jerky for your family to enjoy over the next couple of days or weeks. In this case, you can use virtually any cut of beef, including ground beef, ribs steaks and brisket.
Jerky meat, when used for long-term storage, should contain zero fat. It’s much more difficult to preserve, because it’s 8 times more susceptible to oxidation than moisture content. Even in vacuum-sealed containers, oxidation occurs in the enzymes of fats and fatty acids.
Let’s take a beef jerky recipe that uses ground beef, for example. In the example above, you could simply combine the following ingredients into a jerky marinade and let the meat ferment in it for 8-24 hours before drying it.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
Further concepts of using beef as jerky meat
The next challenge of beef jerky is tenderness. Brisket, and venison jerky in general (if you choose to use this kind of meat) has strong fibers, which make it tough and hard to chew.
This is overcome, first, by the use of nitrates. Curing salt is used in conventional meats to draw out moisture and prevent the growth of particularly resilient kinds of bacteria. It’s recommended for dehydrating any cut of deer meat, and is a critical component of long-term meat storage.
You can also citric ingredients to soften your jerky meat. Wine, beer, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar and pineapple juice are commonly used in jerky recipes.
The third way to make your meat suppler, is with your beef jerky dryer. The longer you dehydrate meat, the more vapor will leave, with the capability to reduce up to 95% of its moisture content. This is effective for long-term storage, but can make the meat harder to eat, depending on the other factors mentioned here.
Lastly, there’s the thickness and tempering of the meat, itself. ¼”-cuts will dry faster, leading to tougher jerky, while 1/8”-cuts will conversely dry slower. You can also use a tenderizing mallet to season and soften your beef jerky slices.
What’s the best beef jerky recipe?
It depends on preference, taste and your beef jerky dehydrator. Turkey jerky might be your favorite, because ground turkey is much leaner, while others might prefer a classic, BBQ beef jerky recipe.
People who favour low-sodium diets can use uncured meat to avoid chemical nitrates and other forms of salt. This is an advanced drying principle, because it will change how long it takes to dehydrate your meat, and could also produce harmful bacteria if not processed properly.
A beef jerky oven will make it easier to choose and work with your favorite cuts of beef!