We love jerky and have put together a guide that will help you make your own homemade beef jerky. The best part? You don’t need a dehydrator!
Jerky is the perfect snack. It’s packed with protein, is convenient, and tastes amazing. The pitfall? A jerky habit can send you back about $2.50 per ounce for conventional store-bought jerky and up to $7 per ounce for organic. We will be learning how to make our own homemade beef jerky because not only will it be cheaper, but it will taste even better than what you can get at the store.
If you are still a skeptic about homemade beef jerky then read on as I discuss some of the benefits of homemade beef jerky compared to commercially bought.
Benefits of homemade beef jerky
No nitrates or artificial ingredients:
Science still seems up in the air as to whether or not nitrates are that bad for our health. The beauty of homemade beef jerky is that we can skip the nitrates altogether! Popular jerky companies like to add corn syrup and other chemicals to their products to make the flavor seem more palatable. When you make homemade beef jerky, you don’t need to add those fake flavors because you’re working with what nature gave you.
Don’t like what the jerky flavor selection at the grocery store? When you make homemade beef jerky, you can feel free to customize the flavors to suit your taste, your mood, or even the season. Pumpkin spice jerky, anyone? Yes, that happened.
As mentioned, making your homemade beef jerky is going to be cheaper than the inferior brands you can find at the grocery store. Using grass-fed beef, you can still get the cost down to much less than a $2.50/oz price tag offered at the grocery store.
In this article, we are focusing on homemade beef jerky, but I also suggest looking into making your own chicken or turkey jerky if you are looking for an even healthier version.
When choosing the beef, you want to find a lean cut at your butcher’s or local supermarket. Traditional jerky is made with flank steak but round steak would work as well. Most recipes call for about 5 pounds of lean meat and it’s best to ask the butcher to trim off any fat, if possible.
Preparing the Meat
You may have a big cut of meat, so you should first cut this meat in half, making sure that you have length for when you cut your strips. Because meat cuts better when it’s cold, pop it in the freezer and take a break for the next 1-2 hours. You are now ready to cut thin strips about ⅛” thick (a sharp knife is pretty helpful here).
A good marinade for your jerky is going to be a combination of sweet and salty. The basics of a good marinade include a liquid base like soy sauce,Worcestershire sauce, or beer. Next are the flavorings and seasonings like garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke. Lastly, you need to remember the sweetness, which generally calls for brown sugar.
As I mentioned, making homemade beef jerky is really about what you like, but when discovering what spices to add, it’s best to first start off basic, like with Doc’s Best Beef Jerky Recipe.
Put the marinade in a ziploc bag with the thin strips of beef and place in the freezer to marinate for the next 4-24 hours.
Get It In The Oven
We’re so close to homemade beef jerky I can almost taste it!
Once the beef has finished marinating, you can pour the meat through a colander over the sink to get rid of the marinade. Pat the meat dry with paper towels to get rid of any extra moisture.
To prepare the oven for the jerky, you should put foil along the bottom rack to catch any drippings from the meat. You can either lay your strips of meat across the racks or fold them over a grate on the rack so they are hanging. Keep them from touching, as we need air to be able to circulate freely between the strips. You are ready to begin cooking!
A high heat is not actually necessary for homemade beef jerky, and we want to turn the oven to the lowest temperature available, typically “warm.” All that you need to do from here is check the jerky every 8 hours or so until the jerky has completely dehydrated.
When’s It Done?
Jerky can be left in the oven for up to 24 hours and you will know it’s done when there is no red meat on the inside and the meat is tough to tear. It’s important not to get hasty here, however, and turn up the heat too quickly or else your homemade beef jerky could end up like charcoal.
That’s a wrap. Once the jerky is cooled, you can store in an airtight container for up to a few months. Snack away!