This guide on making jerky will take you from start to finish. Everything from a jerky cure, to getting the perfect cut, tenderness and flavor is covered here. We’ll also show you why it’s just an effective technique for meat preservation.
We’re going to assume that you have a meat dehydrator. It gives you the flexibility of multiple trays, which economically cook your meat with the perfect consistency. You home oven just costs too much to run, is limited in size and isn’t designed for drying jerky.
A beef jerky recipe that anyone can make
You’ll find thousands of ways to make jerky, in terms of flavor. Spicy jalapeno, zesty BBQ and classic teriyaki are a few common varieties of beef jerky marinades that you’ll find in abundance.
- 4 lbs. meat
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp. pepper
- 2 tsp. each onion powder, paprika and salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
This is enough to make your beef jerky marinade. Next, we’ll discuss which kind of meat to use.
Beef or deer jerky?
The truth is that you can use any kind of meat. Your first objective is to make it as lean as possible, trimming away fat. It’s quick to spoil and is a liability to our jerky.
You may also need a jerky cure. Fresh-caught venison, for example, should have its blood and juices removed with salt water. Curing salt is also used to prevent serious bacteria growth.
Next, cut the meat into slices. Cutting against its visible grain will tear up its fibers, resulting in a jerky that’s softer to chew. Using a mandolin will allow you to make 1/8” slices, and we recommend no thicker than ¼” for proper cooking.
How to dry beef jerky
Set your beef jerky maker to 165 degrees F. This is hot enough to cook it to a temperature that is ensured for safe human consumption.
Lay your flavored jerky strips onto your dehydrating trays. Leave space in between for air flow and dehydrate for about 6-10 hours, until there isn’t any noticeable moisture left in the meat. You don’t want it too dry, but it should be thoroughly cooked and difficult to bend.
Afterward, set the dried meat aside to cool. Some of the moisture will return, as you don’t actually want it to be as stiff as a board. At this point it’s ready to be stored in zip-lock bags or, for long-term storage, vacuum-sealed bags.
A 5 tray dehydrator is the ultimate tool for homemade beef jerky!