Food and Drink

How to Make Your Own Jerky

February 4, 2015
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beef jerky

©istockphoto/Juanmonino

A nice, hearty piece of steak is a great prize after a long hunt, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little snack from your kill than a full-course meal. Jerky is a delicious, easy-to-carry treat you can take with you everywhere you go, and it’s something that every man should know how to make. Forget shelling out your hard-earned cash for mediocre jerky at the convenience store, just follow these steps to make it in the comfort of your own home.

Choose Your Meat
You can use a variety of meats when making your own jerky from beef, pork to venison. There’s little difference in the amount of time it takes to make, but the different marinades you use could affect the taste. For time’s sake we’re going to focus on beef jerky.

Use the flank or the eye of round cuts for the best turnout, though you’ll still get decent results from top and bottom round. It’s important that you use lean meat to keep the jerky from spoiling.

Prep the Meat
Take a filet knife and remove any excess fat from the meat. Fat spoils faster and is likely to become rancid over time.

Before cutting into the meat it might be helpful to freeze it for up to an hour. This’ll make the meat easier to slice through and provide you with more uniform strips of jerky.

The direction that you cut the meat will help determine the texture of your meat. For a chewier jerky cut your meat with the grain. Cutting the meat against the grain will give you jerky that is flaky and falls apart easily, though it will be less chewy.

Make the Marinade
We’ve put together an excellent marinade recipe, but feel free to tweak it to your own tastes. You’ll need the following:

  • 4 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • ¼ teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Thoroughly mix the ingredients in a Ziploc bag large enough to contain the strips of meat and cover them fully.

After adding the strips of meat to the Ziploc bag place it in the refrigerator and leave it overnight. Six hours should be long enough. If you decide to marinate your jerky during the day you can remove it from the refrigerator on occasion to gently massage the marinade into the meat. Some people argue this helps increase the flavor.

©istockphoto/Juanmonino

©istockphoto/Juanmonino

Dry Your Jerky
You can go two routes when it comes to drying your jerky. If you’ve got a dehydrator just follow the instructions on the machine and you’re set. If you’re like me and feel a dehydrator is a waste of money for something you can do in your oven, follow the next set of instructions.

Cover the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil since the marinade is going to drip. Or don’t and just clean up the mess later, if you really want to.

Set the temperature for around 150 degrees and arrange your strips of meat on both racks so that they’re not touching. After placing them in the oven, use a wooden spoon or another instrument to leave the door cracked while drying. Do not allow the door to close! Doing so will cause the meat to cook through, rather than dry, which you don’t want to happen.

It should take approximately 6 hours for your jerky to finish drying. Turn the strips over halfway through the cooking time.

Once done, allow your jerky to cool before storing it. Placing it into a container before it cools down will allow moisture to develop and become trapped, which will spoil your jerky. Place it in an airtight container when done, and you’ve got fresh, homemade jerky whenever you want it!

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