Beef Jerky

Beef jerky isn’t very photogenic is it?

It is, however, one of my favorite snacks, especially since going Paleo/Primal. It’s also ridiculously expensive to buy ready-made beef jerky of any decent quality, and even the natural varieties are full of sugar.  But did you know how easy it is to make your own? It’s basically just marinated dried beef.

As with many things I make, there’s not really a recipe here, more of a process to follow and use your own judgement with.

I usually start with about 2 lbs. of grass-fed london broil from our local natural foods store.  London broil is a great cut for jerky because it has very little fat.  Jerky is one preserved meat preparation that is better without fat.  The amount in the two quart size mason jars above is the result of about 1.8 lbs this time.

Start by rinsing and draining the beef, and then hand cut it in quite thin slices.

Get a medium bowl and mix up some marinade.  I usually start with about 1/2 cup of wheat-free tamari, and then add garlic, herbs, sometimes a little honey, depending on whether I’m eating sugar. Be sure to include some black pepper or red pepper flakes.  Once the marinade is all mixed up, dump the raw pieces in and toss to coat.  Store in the fridge to marinate for 4-6 hours.  Alternatively, you can marinate in a gallon-size ziploc bag for better marinade contact.

After it’s marinated, drain the meat. You can experiment with rinsing it or not, I’ve found I like a quick rinse to pull of some of the bigger herb chunks, but not rinsed clean. Now, if you have a dehydrator, it’s really simple to just lay the pieces out and put it on the meat setting for 10-12 hours.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t fret, you can also do this in a low oven with quite the same results.  Just set your oven as low as it will go and be sure to put the beef on a rack on a cookie sheet.  If it’s directly on the cookie sheet you will get a most unpleasant raw meat result, trust me I know.

Here’s what about 1.8 lbs. of london broil looks like ready to go into the dehydrator.

When you think it’s getting done, just try it. If it’s a little soft, I recommend drying it a little further. The soft “chunk-style” jerky product you can get at the store is filled with weird softeners and preservatives.  I’ve had soft jerky start to mold after about a week, so I keep going until mine is somewhat crisp now.

And voila, about $50 worth of grass-fed beef jerky, flavored to your tastes, in under an hour of work and less than $20 of beef.

Anyone else make beef jerky?  I’d love to know what your favorite flavors are.


6 thoughts on “Beef Jerky

  1. garyarthuryoung says:

    I promise I’m not comment stalking you, but…

    I made chicken jerky in a NuWave oven — set in low power for an hour, I think. I didn’t dry it nearly enough last time but it was still great. Technically it wasn’t jerky but next time it will be.

    Marinated the chicken tenders in … something. Worcestershire, honey, Old Bay. It was so good and flavorful and without all the scary crud in, say, Jack Links brand.

    Also, I find that my sodium intake is very high whenever I eat store bought or restaurant food, not to mention fast food. The latter rarely happens for that reason. Store bought jerky has a lot of sugar and a LOT of sodium.

    But when you make food at home it’s so much better in so many ways. Thanks for the recipe. Or procedure.

    • jannamo says:

      Chicken, huh? I would have worried about the dangers of raw chicken… you know steak tartare is OK, but chicken tartare, not so much. But then again, if you get anything to 160˚ or so, you’re probably good. What’s the texture like?

      I also try to favor beef because the Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio in grass-fed can get close to 1:1. But I do love a good roast chicken too.

      Comment stalking? No way, bring it on! Any sign that someone out there is reading is relieving.

      • garyarthuryoung says:

        The NuWave oven is one of this infomercial gadgets. It’s a convection oven type dealy.

        It’s not anywhere near necessary but it is very easy and very fast(probably twice as fast as a conventional oven) even from frozen. And I usually have leftovers. We’ll see how long it holds up.

        I meant to do turkey or beef jerky at the time but the butcher area in the grocery store was closed. I needed to ask what cut of meat but … london broil it is. I also wanted to get them to cut me some thin slices.

        The chicken was definitely cooked. It wasn’t consistently jerky enough, though, because I didn’t leave it long enough. It was still chewy and only last me a few days. Not meant to be stored, of course. My palate is too refined for mold.

        I’m looking forward to making some real home made beef jerky. That’s going to be on the money.

  2. Jessa says:

    I make my beef jerky – or venison jerky, which is a household favorite around here – with Braggs, hot pepper flakes, garlic, and black pepper (sometimes some red wine). I’ve also done a teriyaki-style marinade with Braggs (better for you than soy sauce, same basic flavor profile), mirin, ginger, and garlic.

    I am experimenting with a nutritional yeast/ACV dressing that is amazing on kale chips. Good on jerky? I’ll find out this year, I suppose.

    We have a crappy dehydrator, but are looking to get a good excalubur this year before the big dehydrating season hits and we’re swamped with meat and fruits to dry.

    • jannamo says:

      Ooh, venison jerky would be great. Sadly we have no source of venison in our house. Yeah, we still do the wheat-free tamari, but have cut out all other soy, so that will probably have to go eventually too.

      We have an excalibur dehydrator. It works great, and wasn’t super expensive, maybe 100 bucks or so?

      Would love to move to kale chips next – I’ve made plain ones with just oil and salt, but some kind of nutritional yeast or cashew dressing would be much better. Would love to hear your recipe.

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