A jerky dryer is a versatile tool. Although there are some challenges to homemade beef jerky, like cutting and flavoring the meat, cooking it as simple as pressing a button. A quality model will actually balance the drying process and keep flavors perfectly intact.
How to cut meat for jerky
Let’s take a look at the entire process of making jerky at home. It all starts with a cut of meat. Many enthusiasts require a specific section of meat. There’s no question that you want it as lean as possible, as fat spoils quickly.
For the beginner, don’t worry too much about anything else. Once you’ve chosen or trimmed a fair amount of lean meat, prepare to slice it.
¼” is about the thickest you’ll want to make jerky. This way it cooks thoroughly for safe consumption, without over-dehydrating its exterior. The best way to do this is to use a mandolin, ask your local butcher, or gain the skills necessary for the job.
One important detail is whether you cut with or across the grain. There are fiber strands in meat that hold it together. If you slice against them, your resulting jerky will be softer and easier to chew.
Why not cook it in the oven?
Your home oven has a lot of space and is designed for high heat. For this reason, it costs 2-5 times as much in electricity, when compared to a dehydrator.
This meat dehumidifier, for example, also has unique advantages. It’s designed with patented air flow technology to support the drying process. It keeps heat and oxygen flow consistent across trays, so you don’t have to manually transfer them, ever.
Another important reason is the amount of time it takes to dry meat. You’re cooking at temperatures as low as 160 degrees F. Your home oven isn’t designed to operate for 12+ hours at a time, which is exactly what you’ll have to do to prepare sizable batches of jerky.
Creating jerky marinades and seasonings
Via the benefit of your meat dehydrator, you can actually dry many of your own spices and sauces. This gives you access to a variety of dry rubs that you can have at your disposal. Not to mention the money you’ll save by drying your own onion and garlic powder, among other ingredients.
This option is especially helpful for recipes that use lean ground beef. You can blend your chosen flavors directly into the meat within minutes, making the entire process a complete breeze. We also talk about how to dry your favorite sauces into a powder, which helps if you strongly prefer BBQ or teriyaki.
Take this beef jerky marinade, for example:
- 1 cup ketchup or tomato puree
- ½ cup red or white wine
- ¼ cup honey or brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. mustard
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- A dash of salt, pepper and hot sauce
Note that many of these ingredients can be dried at home, including the mustard and onion powder. What’s more, you can actually take this BBQ sauce marinade as a whole, and turn it into a dry rub. Otherwise, you can submerge your meat in the marinade and refrigerate it for 12-24 hours.
Using a dehydrator with timer
It’s time to get the meat sizzling! Set your dehydrator to 165 degrees F. Once it’s ready, place the freshly prepared meat slices on your dehydrating trays, leaving about an inch of space between slices.
Learning how to set the digital timer will depend on the size of your operation, and your preferences. The size, output and efficiency of the model of dehydrator you use will play a critical role, as well.
Set it to 5 hours for a jerky that’s a little moister. This won’t store as long, due to bacteria growth. That’s not much of an issue for hungry families, though, and will last in the fridge for at least 2 weeks!
Set it for longer times for dryer jerky. Most importantly, the meat must reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F for safe consumption.
A jerky dryer is a wonderful tool for creating long-lasting and appetizing food!