Homemade Beef Jerky

Years ago, Auntie Karen introduced our family to homemade beef jerky. We behaved immoderately with the beef jerky then and we still can’t control ourselves if there is homemade beef jerky in the house. The good news is that it’s very easy to make. The bad news is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep a supply on hand.

Homemade Beef Jerky

The meat: I generally wait for London Broil to go on sale. If I can get it for $2 a pound or less, it’s beef jerky time. You CAN use any kind of beef, but London Broil seems to me to be the easiest meat to work with. You don’t want to be drying a real fatty meat because the fat doesn’t really dehydrate. Then you risk the fat turning rancid and that’s a bad thing.

I start by slicing the meat really, really thin. The easiest way to do this is to get the butcher to do it. If you have a nice butcher, this is a huge favor. If your butcher won’t slice meat that’s on sale (since slicing is sometimes considered added value) then you need to do it yourself. Make sure your knife is really sharp so you can slice very thin slices. I often will stick a piece of London Broil in the freezer for about an hour so that it’s very cold or partially frozen. Slice across the grain.

Once the meat is sliced, it’s time to marinate it for about 24 hours. I whisk together some of the following ingredients:

  • •1 c. soy sauce
  • •2 T. worcestershire sauce
  • •1/2 c. brown sugar
  • •1 T. minced garlic or garlic powder
  • •1 T. salt or Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • •2 t. pepper
  • •1/2 c. white vinegar (this tenderizes the meat) OR 1/2 c. lemon or lime juice (this also tenderizes the meat by breaking down the tough fibers)

Any other spices that strike my fancy might also get thrown in. This is essentially a teriyaki flavored marinade that will produce a teriyaki jerky. This is our favorite. If you want to leave the teriyaki theme, you can go with vinegar (or lime juice), salt, pepper, and garlic.

After the meat has marinated about 24 hours in this (store it in the fridge while it’s marinating, and stir it up every few hours), it’s time to start drying.

Spread the meat onto the trays of the dehydrator and dehydrate on “High.” When the meat is dried out (and you’ll be able to tell when it is) it’s done. The house smells absolutely delicious while the beef jerky is drying. It’s hard to keep from eating it before it’s done!

This beef jerky should be stored in ziplock bags (assuming you have enough to store) in the freezer. Especially in damp climates, you don’t want the dehydrated meat to sit out at room temperature.

Then prepare to defend your beef jerky from the ravening hordes who have been smelling it dehydrating for two days!

BK

DISCLAIMER: all this dehydrating happens in my own kitchen, for my own family. In no way am I implying that industry safety standards are maintained in the dehydrating process. Please don’t write to us to tell us if this doesn’t meet certain commercial standards. We already know that. I am an amateur cook, using home methods in my own kitchen.

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  2. Do you or could you tell me what the directions would be for making jerky in the oven…What setting and for hw long??

    Thanks,
    Tim

  3. I would als like to know if I could use the oven for jerky. I would love some home made jerky.
    Thanks
    Kerrie

  4. Oven Directions:

    Lay the strips flat on the oven racks, making sure their is air between every piece. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. When jerky is cooked to your liking quit cooking!

  5. Rather than lay the strips on the racks use toothpicks to suspend them – you can do alot more this way – don’t forget to put a pan in the bottom for drips (change after an hour or so so doesn’t add nasty burned smoke flavor)

    If you can find an oven safe fan, leave the door cracked – this will keep the oven on the whole time but produce a much better jerky (Mine usually takes 4-8 hours at 150)

    If you have one a vacuum packer will preserve the meat a very long time in either jars or the plastic.

    I usually do three batches – savory, sweet and hot. Just add more sugar for sweet (molasses or honey rather than plain sugar) add you favorite hot sauce for hot or add hot peppers to the marinade. Peppers sliced properly are also good for dehydrating too.

    To add a smokey flavor – made a very small fire in your grill (smokers work best) add wood chips and do final 1/2 hour there (careful too much smoke will make meat bitter and too big a fire will crisp it) 150 is almost too hot for this step as you are flavoring not drying.

    A touch of dry wine or sherry works well with hot and savory and sweet sherry or vermouth can go well with the sweet marinade.

    You can use any meat and I know folks who do tofu (not me)

    Also if you are going to experiment with different marinades do a small test batch – better to want more than throw out an entire batch.

    Sorry to go so long but I have been at the jerky thing since the 70s and have ruined more than you would believe – hope this helps – above all have fun and don’t hesitate to try new recipes – you may be surprised.

  6. I agree that London Broil is by far the easiest meat to use, however, I put mine in a Smoker opposed to a Dehydrator. I still let it Marinate for a day, as do you, although the flavor is 100% better with the Smoker. I usually make five to six pounds at 250 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. If you dont have a Smoker, a Grill will work the same as long as you can prop up your meat and control the temperature.

  7. Best results I’ve found overall for a smoker or oven is 3-5 hours at 175-180 farenheit. Any hotter and you run the risk of charring the edges, any cooler and the bacteria multiply like crazy… The other thing that helps is the commercial jerky cure.. specifically the nitrites in it.. it kills off the bacteria that can cause botulism (which multiplies rapidly in meat cooked slowly at low temperatures)

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