Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dehydrated Beef Jerky


Jerky has always been one of my all-time favorite snacks. I spent a lot of time growing up as a kid in West Virginia camping in the woods with the Boy Scouts or hunting with my father, and have spent quite of bit of time in field conditions as a part of my current job.

Jerky is the perfect food to take along. It's packed with flavor and protein, and has a long shelf life if kept properly.

I've always liked the jerky I bought at the store, but felt that I could get more out of it. There were no "perfect" brands. Some had the wrong flavors but the right texture. Others a great flavor but the wrong texture.

But the one time that the jerky was always perfect was when my dad would make it.

He would often use venison instead of beef. In my current situation I don't have the ability to hunt, and find it very difficult to get venison otherwise. So I decided to buy a cheap dehydrator from Amazon and try my hand at homemade beef jerky.


It took me a long time to get a flavor that I liked. But after experimentation, I now have my marinade locked in. There is still some occasional discrepancy with the texture, as I am still learning my machine and meat. But so far, the following recipe is what I have found to be my favorite.

You can adjust the marinade to your taste, but I strongly recommend you try it before doing so. I personally often add fresh hot peppers, such as my home-grown chocolate habaneros or even just a healthy dose of crushed red pepper flakes.

The time each piece is in the dehydrator can vary, depending on the thickness of the cut as well as how much moisture is left in the meat after it has been patted dry. I will mention my personal techniques below in the recipe. If you have a method that works better for you, please let me know in comments and I'll try them out!

Jerky is one of those food items that will always be in my pantry at home and my backpack when out. If I find a better method or lock my times/temps and recipe in tighter, I will definitely update.

Dehydrated Beef Jerky

Preparing the meat


The best cut that you can use for jerky is the leanest you can find. The less fat the better, as fat can still spoil even after being dried. Top Round or London Broil is the best cut that I have found.  This will give you about 2.5 lb. of meat.

The higher the quality of meat, the better your end product will be (organic, grassfed beef seems to be the best).

If you have a seriously sharp knife, you can cut the beef as is. Otherwise its best to put your beef into the freezer for about 2 hours to firm it up. This will ensure you get a nice consistent cut without the meat trying to roll or squish away from the knife as you apply pressure.

Cut the meat into 1/8 inch thick slices either with the grain or against. How to decide? If you cut the meat with the grain you will get a chewier jerky. Cutting against the grain will result in pieces that break apart easily and are generally more tender.

Once you have your meat cut into thin strips, move on to the marinade.

Marinade:
1 1/4 cups Coca Cola
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce or Marinade

Seasoning Blend:
1 Tbsp Smoked Pink Himalayan Salt
1 Tbsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add the sliced meat, stir well to ensure that everything is coated, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 8 hours. I average between 8 and 16 hours but 24+ is best.

Once you are ready to continue, pour the meat into a colander to drain.

Prepare Dry Spice Blend

While the meat drains, mix together your dry spices and lay out some paper towels.

I use a mix of smoked pink Himalayan salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and chipotle chile powder.

Mix these together in a small bowl and set it off to the side.

Prepare and Dehydrate the Jerky

Lay out the slices of meat in the single layer on a paper towel and pat dry. The goal is to get as much of the moisture off the meat as possible.

Once this is done, you can lay the slices out on your dehydrator racks and sprinkle lightly with the dry seasoning mix.

Fill all the trays that you can, and place them inside the dehydrator.

Set the dehydrator for 158F for 4 hours.

Now set a second timer for 4 hours. At the first 4 hours onward, you will be checking the dehydrator constantly until you get the right texture.

You want your jerky slices to be dried, but not so dry that they crumble when you try to chew them.

The best way to estimate the texture is the try to bend the slices.

The jerky should crack but not break.

If it just bends it's not done yet.

If it breaks too easily when you bend it, it's overdone.

I have found that the sweet spot is usually between 4 and 6 hours. It depends on the marinade you use, the fat content of your meat, and the thickness of your cuts, and even variables like the weather - so always check!

This can be difficult to get right, but once you do you will have some absolutely fantastic jerky to take with you wherever you go.

Storing the Jerky

It's best to store your finished jerky in an air-tight container with a desiccant packet. These are those silica gel packets often tucked into medications and the like - you can find them on Amazon.

They help to keep moisture out of the container, which will keep your jerky palatable for longer.

If you have any tips or suggestions on how you make jerky let me know! But most importantly... Have a snack!





10 comments:

  1. This is a great post with lots of information. It's something we've never tried before but you totally make it look easy!

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  2. We use to make jerky, but haven't in years. My son still makes it from venison. It is a yummy snack! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    Jann

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  3. I was just talking about smoked meat and jerky the other day and had wondered why I hadn't given that a go at home when your tutorial popped up! So glad you shared it at the Sweet Inspiration Link Party. Both my hubby and I love jerky, so I am anxious to try it at home!

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  4. Thanks for sharing at Friday Frenzy Link Party! Pinned!!

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  5. This makes me want to borrow my dad's dehydrator!!! What a yummy snack! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

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  6. Ah yeah we love making beef jerky! Thanks for linking up to the Friday Frenzy-we appreciate you!

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  7. I love jerkey - I'll have to try this. Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party - have a fabulous week!

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  8. This sounds like a lot of fun to do! So many ways to flavor the meat. I had an Excalibur dehydrator once upon a time and enjoyed using it. Thanks for sharing with us at Creatively Crafty #ccbg :)

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  9. Your Beef Jerky is awesome, I will pass this on to my son, he loves Jerky! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  10. love dehydrated beef jerky so glad you shared this
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

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