Hello all! I told you all I would get into making some jerky with my brand spanking new Presto Dehydro (which you can check out my review here), and I did it today!
Just a little side note, I’ve updated my recipes index (if you click the recipe tab above) so now you can see them in a gallery format with the pictures. I think it looks pretty good right now (although it’s still a work in progress) but check it out if your interested!
Now back to the jerky making.
So who doesn’t want to save money?
That’s what I thought. Everyone wants to save money!
To give you all an idea of why I would recommend making jerky at home, here’s a quick price comparison.
That is an 8 oz bag of jerky at my local store for about $13.00!!
At the end of this recipe, I had about 2 lbs (32 oz) of delicious homemade jerky in 3 different flavors for the price of about $20.00. That would be 4 of these $13.00 bags, which would come out to over $42.00. That’s more than half the price of what I would’ve had to pay for in the store.
Now that I’ve gotten your attention with how much you can save, let’s get back to the jerky!
Jerky is an excellent source of protein and it is generally a very low carb snack, which is why I chose to make it!
So I decided that I would give making some beef jerky a try, and I also decided to make it 3 different ways. Might as well go big or go home! I was just so happy that I could make some jerky and ACTUALLY know what was going into it.
Unlike store bought jerky that is chock full of sugar and preservatives, this would be natural and delicious.
Plus, the fact that I could make three different flavors at a fraction of the cost of store bought jerky was a great perk as well.
The first thing that’s important for jerky is of course the meat. Now from my research I found that the leanest meat is the best for making jerky. The fat needs to be trimmed. I found some of the choices to be London broil, top round, bottom round, flank steak, sirloin tips or ground beef (didn’t even know about this one).
Now apparently the easiest to chew would be if you made it from the ground beef, but I chose to go with a top round since I thought it would turn out to be the most like the kind of jerky i’m used to.
I also recommend buying your meat at a wholesaler as it is much cheaper than buying from a regular grocery store. I went to Costco and got this guy here
for only $20. This was a top round piece, and I ended up with about 5 lbs of raw meat, after trimming the fat, which turned into about 2 lbs of delicious finger licking jerky!
The first thing to do is to freeze the meet for an hour or two. This makes the meat much easier to slice. Alternatively, you can also just ask your butcher to cut it all down into small strips for you, but I wasn’t even sure if they did that at Costco, and I also wanted to do it myself!
Next is to remove the fat cap. Use a sharp knife to cut as close to the meat as possible to remove the fat. A little bit of meat coming off is okay, but it just means you’ll have less jerky, and I definitely wanted as much jerky as I could get.
Once you’ve got all the fat off, it’s time to slice the jerky. There are two ways to cut it:
- With the grain – Gives you a chewier jerky (The way I would traditionally think of jerky)
- Across the grain – Gives you an easier to chew jerky.
I opted to go with the grain in order to get a little bit more of a chewy jerky. I think jerky is meant to be chewed and the flavor savored.
If you’re not sure about what the “grain” is, it just means the lines of how the muscle fibers are running. You can either cut with it (the same direction), or against it (across the lines). This is another tip that can be used for other meats.
Also, the thickness of the meat is very important. I cut the pieces to be about 1/4″ a slice. If you cut much thicker, the drying times will be way longer, and you may not actually dehydrate it all, which could also be a health hazard. You can of course also cut it much thinner, and the drying times will be less, but you run the risk of over dehydrating it as well.
After you’ve got the meat all sliced up, it’s time do to some marinating!
I decided I wanted to try 3 different marinades on the jerky this time around (as you may have guessed from the title of this post). This way, if I didn’t like one marinade, at least I had two more to try out.
In the picture above you can see the main ingredients for each marinade behind the Ziploc bags that I had the meat marinating in.
- Traditional style – Pepper, Garlic, Onion, Worcestshire, Stevia
- Walden Farms Thick and Spicy BBQ(affiliate link)
- Weber’s Kick’n Chicken (affiliate link)
You may think it odd that I used a chicken seasoning on beef jerky, and indeed it certainly seemed a bit odd, but i’m glad I did. The main ingredient in the Kick’n Chicken seasoning that I was interested in was dehydrated orange peel. I was thinking something like some kind of orange beef flavor. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but it was still delicious.
Now the research of course showed me all kinds of marinading times for jerky. I saw people marinading their meat for 4 hours all the up to 5 days!!
I wasn’t so bold, but I did want to get some good flavor into the meat, so I opted to go for a marinade time of about 36 hours. The longer you marinade, the more pronounced the flavors will be.
After the meat has marinaded for whatever amount of time, the next thing is to pat it dry and get all the excess liquid off the meat. Too much liquid will make drying times much longer as well as possible drip all over the dehydrator making a mess.
I also saw some people that just strained the meat in a colander, but I didn’t want a whole bunch of liquid on the meat, so instead I just laid out the pieces on some paper towels and patted them dry.
Once the excess marinade is gotten off of the meat, just lay them on the dehydrator trays making sure they aren’t touching. I set my Presto Dehydro to a temperature of 160 F and let it rip.
I know that most people probably won’t just have a dehydrator around, so I researched a bit and found that you can probably make the jerky in the oven by just getting the temperature down to 160 F (or the lowest setting closest to that) and then leaving your oven door open. The times may vary, but it should turn out okay as well. The jerky will need to be put on some kind of baking rack set on top of a baking pan so the air can circulate around the meat and dry it out. You will also need to rotate the jerky top to bottom and front to back periodically so that it can dry out evenly.
I think the biggest plus of this dehydrator is that the fan forces the heat throughout the unit and around the meat so that it doesn’t need to be rotated or touched in any way until it’s done. It’s pretty much set it and forget it (except don’t actually forget it!).
After about 8-9 hours in the dehydrator my jerky was done! Some of my slices were a little thick, so they needed some extra time. I recommend checking them around the 6 hour mark to see how they’re coming along. Some people I saw online had only dehydrated them for 4 hours, while others kept them going up to overnight. I guess it all depends on what kind of texture you’re looking for and the strength of your unit.
The test to see if the jerky is done is to bend a piece in half and see if it cracks but doesn’t break. If it breaks in half it is too dry (unless that’s what you want). If it just cracks but bends then it should be done.
Walden Farms Thick and Spicy BBQ Style
Weber’s Kick’n Chicken Style
After the jerky is all dried out to your liking, I recommend patting them again with some paper towels and letting them cool on the rack for a couple hours. As they cool on the racks they will continue to dry out some more.
There will sometimes be some wet spots on the meat from the liquid coming out of it, and if you package them all up while they’re like this, then the liquid may rehydrate them and make the meat go bad.
I also recommend putting them in Ziploc bags and storing them in the fridge. Get as much air out of the bags and then zip them up so the jerky stays fresh longer.
There are ways to keep the jerky out in the open as well, but from my research I saw it’s better if this is done with jerky that has been cured with salt or using one of those packets that draws the oxygen out from the package. I didn’t want to use either, and I didn’t have either, so I just threw them in the fridge.
I didn’t measure out my ingredients this time around, so I won’t be able to give very accurate nutritional info like I do on most of my posts. However, the Walden’s and the Kick’n Chicken have zero calories and zero carbs, and the only thing that would’ve added calories in the traditional style would be the Worcestershire. I just eyed enough to coat the meat but not completely submerge it. Also, since everything was patted dry after the meat was taken out of the marinade, I think it would’ve been a pretty slight amount of calories from that.
The only real thing that added calories was the beef, which I think is how jerky should be. To give you an idea of an estimate:
About 8 oz of beef (1/2 lb) would contain about 410 calories and 0 Carbs, which is generally what would’ve been in the jerky that used the Walden’s or the Kick’n Chicken, since they both contained 0 calories and 0 carbs.
Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed this post. If you’ve got any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave me a message at the bottom and i’ll be sure to address it. Also, if you liked this post please share it, and if you’re interested in receiving future post updates, go ahead and sign up! I know you won’t be disappointed!
Thanks, and enjoy!!