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!
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.