If you have had a successful hunting season and ended up with lots of meat, what do you do?
Make a beef jerky, of course.
Knowing how to make a beef jerky is one of the best survival skills a man can learn. Whether you are a prepper, survivalist, or simply someone who wants a long-time solution to preserve meat, knowing how to make a jerky is a handy survival skill.
For this post, we’ll provide the basics on how to make a proper beef jerky.
Why Make Your Own Jerky?
Before we get to the good stuff, here are some of the top reasons why you should know how to make your own jerky.
- It’s one of the best survival food – When it comes to survival food, jerky is on top of everyone’s list. It is a delicious high-protein food that is perfect for camping, hiking, or any survival situation. Its long-term storage capabilities really render the jerky as a staple survival food. In a pinch, you can easily make a jerky in the wild. Plus, beef jerky tastes great.
- It’s quite expensive – Meat, in general, is not cheap. However, that’s even more applicable for beef jerky. Packaged jerky can be quite expensive especially coming from prominent brands. But why buy an expensive brand jerky when you can make your own at home? Well, this is where we can lend a helping hand.
- It’s really convenient – Aside from being a healthy, tasty snack, people love jerky for the convenience it provides. This nutrient-dense snack has a shelf-life that keeps many people coming back for more. We are talking about months of shelf-life which you can repackage again for later use. Plus, they are not that hard to make. Sure, it requires a bit of preparation but it’s really all worth it in the end.
- It’s really healthy – As mentioned, jerky is high in protein and will not raise your insulin levels. This makes the beef jerky an ideal snack between meals. Eating a jerky will fill you easily which means that you won’t be consuming unnecessary calories in between meals. If you’re trying to lose weight, the jerky is your best friend.
How to Make Beef Jerky: A Basic Guide
So you have a jerky problem, right? You love eating them but you just can’t stand the taste of most packaged brands. There are two solutions to your dilemma. You can go online to buy a gourmet brand jerky or create your own mouth-watering snack at the comfort of your own home.
Well, since you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you want to make your own jerky. Don’t worry it’s not that hard.
First off, clear the kitchen. Make sure that the path between the kitchen and the oven is clear. Marinated jerky can be rather drippy. If you have pets, make sure that you have them locked in another part of the house. You will be waving raw meat around, so they are definitely going to notice.
This could get messy, so be prepared.
Preparing the Meat
1. Select a cut of meat (5 lbs) and go for the lean kind.
2. Trim any fat off the meat or you can ask your butcher to do it for you. Make sure that you use the sharpest knife for trimming the fat.
3. The most popular cuts of meat for jerky include the top round, brisket or if you want something fancy, the filet mignon.
4. Next step is to slice the meat. This step actually involves two processes. First, cut the meat into two halves or more sections. Depending on the size, make long slices for that familiar jerky shape. Wrap the large cuts of meat in a plastic bag or zip-lock freezer bag. Place it in the freezer for about one to two hours.
5. The second process is to slice the cuts into thin strips. Between 1/8 to ¼ inch would be ideal.
Preparing the Marinade
Snacking on a beef jerky is a multi-faceted experience. We all enjoy the beefy flavor and the chewy texture but nothing keeps us from reaching for more than the savory, sweet, and spicy flavor of the jerky. The best beef jerky features a powerful layering of spices and flavor.
The flavor of the jerky will depend on your personal taste, mood, or season. The best approach here is to pick out a good, basic recipe. This is especially true if you’re a beginner. The Three Jerks Jerky has a great recipe for a snack that’s tender, luxurious, and amazingly tasty.
- For base and acids – You can combine sauces like tamari sauce, apple cider, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, teriyaki sauce, or balsamic vinegar.
- For spices, seasonings, and flavorings – Personally, I like to mix and match combinations that include onion powder, salt, garlic powder, fish sauce, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper and more.
- For sweetness – To really bring out the savory flavors from your jerky, a touch of sweetness is the way to go. To add a dash of sweetness, you can use honey, brown sugar, corn syrup, and more.
Once you have decided on the flavoring, place the strips of meat in a zip-lock plastic bag. Pour in the marinade and bathe the meat in the deliciousness. Put the bag in the fridge and marinate the meat for no less than 4 hours. The longer you marinate, the deeper the flavors. Personally, I like marinating for 24 hours. For convenience, just marinate overnight and start drying the next day which is our next step.
Drying the Jerky
1. Before turning on the oven, remove the racks. Then, line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil for catching the drips. Next, preheat the oven to about 60 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the racks over paper towels on a flat surface. Take the marinated meat strips and lay them flat across the oven racks. Be sure that the strips and well-spaced and they are not touching each other. Place as much as you can so you can maximize production.
3. Once the racks are filled with strips, put them in the oven. The idea here is to dehydrate the meat so the door needs to be open but only a little bit. Try inserting a wooden spoon or a balled-up aluminum foil to hold the oven door just enough. This way, the warmed air is moving and circulating within the oven. If your oven is too hot, the meat will be cooked which is not the outcome that we are going for.
4. Most experts recommend that you dry for a total of 7 or 8 hours. Again, this will depend on how thick the strips are. Halfway through, turn the slices over for an even dryness. Yup, this means that you will need to be around to monitor the oven. This is an all-day process so cancel all your appointments for the day.
5. So how do you know if the strips are dry enough? Time for a good ol’ taste test. Pick out a strip and give it a nice bend. If the meat is too dry, the strip will crack and break off. If you can easily bend the strip and it comes off with a bite, it’s ready. Do the taste test at around 6 hours. Make sure that you don’t over dry the meat.
6. Once it’s dry enough, remove the jerky from the oven and leave them out in the open for cooling down. Once the jerky strips are cool enough, place them inside an airtight container. Make sure that you pat out the excess oil from the dehydrated meat before storage.
Just like that, you’ve made your very own gourmet jerky treat that will last you for months. If you have a food dehydrator, you can skip the oven and the drying process becomes a lot easier. If you’re planning to make beef jerky regularly, investing in a food dehydrator is not a bad idea.
TIP: If you’re in a survival situation where you have no access to an oven or dehydrator, you can string the strips on a piece of wire and hang them over a fire. Make sure that you dangle the meat high enough so it dries instead of being cooked.
And that wraps up our quick guide on how to make beef jerky.
As you can see, making your very own gourmet jerky is easier than expected. All you need to have is your meat, some spices and sauces, and lastly, an oven. The dehydration process becomes trivial if you have a food dehydrator, so consider getting one if you’re planning to make jerky on a regular basis.
Now that you know how to make your own beef jerky, go and give it a shot. Make sure that share your results with us. If you have any questions about this guide, feel free to ask questions via the comments section.