Homemade Beef Jerky
I l-o-v-e beef jerky, and cannot believe it has taken me until now to make my own!
I've loved it for as long as I can remember, but as my notion of health transformed- I realized that more often than not, beef jerky is a junk food. The store bought stuff generally made with low quality beef, and also full of sugar (often the hyper scary stuff like HFCS), nitrates, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours... no thanks.
As you may or may not know, I'm on day 2 of the carnivore diet (!!!!!) and needless to say I'm taking the opportunity to get hell-a creative in the meat department. My love and passion for cooking is definitely getting challenged by my limited ingredient options for the next 30 days (essentially, just meat), but it's already pushed me to make my own beef jerky, which is SO COOL!
This recipe is so easy that I find it hard to even call it a recipe. You can marinate the strips if you want, but as this was my first trial, I just did them with sea salt. Anyways, here are the basicAF steps to making your own organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, no junk jerky!
Homemade Beef Jerky
- about 1 to 1.5 lbs of organic, grass-fed, pasture raised beef. The cut doesn't really matter; people suggest a lean cut but I've seen amazing jerky made with ribeye! A good place to start is boneless top round steak roast (that's what I used) but loin, sirloin, flank... anything will do.
When you buy your beef at the local butcher, get him to slice it finely for you. About the thickness of a thick slice of bacon.
- a good shake of salt on each piece
- optional: seasoning (see "hot tips")
1. If you are seasoning your jerky, do this first by soaking your beef strips in the marinade at least 5 hours but ideally overnight. Make sure all the pieces are well coated to ensure the flavour penetrates the meat.
2. After marinating, you can either leave the strips wet/ in the marinade, or rinse them with warm water. If you're using a dehydrator, I suggest rinsing because the marinade will damage your machine. If using your oven, you can leave marinade on but make sure you line the bottom of the oven with aluminium foil or things will get intensely messy.
3. In a dehydrator: *If you used a marinade, rinse the strips with warm water before placing them in the dehydrator*. Turn dehydrator to 160°F and lay the strips along the trays, making sure they don't touch! Leave for at least 4 hours, and then check on them to see if you want them drier. I left mine for just under 5 hours and they were perfect.
In an oven: remove the rack from your oven and place your strips along the oven racks the entire way, making sure they don't overlap. (Note: you can rinse the strips before placing them on the rack for a less messy endeavour). Place rack back in the oven (on highest possible rack to the top), and turn oven on to 170°F. Keep the oven door slightly ajar by sticking a wooden spoon in the top (to allow some heat to escape). Bake for 3 hours, then flip them- and bake for another 2+ hours (depending how dry you like your jerky).
If you are putting your marinated beef straight on the racks without rinsing them: LINE THE BOTTOM OF YOUR OVEN WITH ALUMINIUM FOIL.
1. If you don't have your meat pre-cut, you can use a mandolin to thinly slice it, or use a knife. If you put your meat in the freezer for about 60 minutes before cutting it, it will make it easier to do (meat shouldn't be frozen, just cold). But honestly try skipping this fiasco all together by just asking your butcher to thinly slice your meat! Tell him it's for jerky, and although the thickness doesn't really matter, I like about the thickness of a thick slice of bacon.
2. Jerky sliced against the grain of the meat will be be easier to chew and jerky that is sliced with the grain will be a lot more chewy (almost leathery), so keep that in mind when asking your butcher to slice it up, or doing it yourself.
3. The cut of beef/ type of meat in general doesn't really matter. Get creative and use wild game (boar, deer, venison, bear), or lamb, etc. I've even seen salmon jerky!
4. Seasoning! Is actually not necessary. I made this batch naked- aka just salted. You can get creative with your flavouring and use any marinade you would normally use on a steak. Example: pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, chilli, and liquids/ sauces like dijon, ACV, honey, fish sauce, etc. I will share more variations of jerky flavours once I trial them in my kitchen!
5. Let your jerky cool for a few hours (or overnight), and then store it in an airtight container for up to 6 months, unrefrigerated.