How to Make Old-Fashioned Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is a delicious and nutritious snack that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a great option for those who are looking for a healthy and portable snack that is also packed with protein. While you can easily find beef jerky at the grocery store, making your own old-fashioned beef jerky is not only fun but also allows you to control the ingredients and flavors. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making old-fashioned beef jerky at home.
Ingredients and Equipment
To make old-fashioned beef jerky, you will need the following ingredients:
– 2 pounds of lean beef (such as top round or flank steak)
– 1/4 cup soy sauce
– 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
– 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 teaspoon onion powder
– 1 teaspoon black pepper
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for added heat)
– 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
– Sharp knife
– Cutting board
– Ziplock bags or food storage container
– Paper towels
– Dehydrator or oven
Now that you have gathered all the necessary ingredients and equipment, let’s get started with making old-fashioned beef jerky.
- Prepare the beef:
Start by placing the beef in the freezer for about 1-2 hours. This will make it easier to slice the beef into thin strips. Once the beef is partially frozen, remove it from the freezer and use a sharp knife to slice it against the grain into thin strips. It is important to cut the beef thinly to ensure that it dries evenly.
- Marinate the beef:
In a bowl, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes (if using), and salt. Mix well to combine all the flavors. Place the beef strips in a large ziplock bag or food storage container, and pour the marinade over the beef. Make sure all the beef strips are well-coated. Seal the bag or container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for best results. Marinating the beef helps to infuse the flavors and tenderize the meat.
- Prepare the dehydrator or oven:
If you have a dehydrator, set it to the appropriate temperature for beef jerky (usually around 160°F or 70°C). If you are using an oven, preheat it to the lowest temperature possible (typically 170°F or 75°C). Line the dehydrator trays or oven racks with parchment paper or aluminum foil to prevent sticking.
- Drain and pat dry:
Remove the marinated beef strips from the refrigerator and drain off any excess marinade. Lay the strips on a paper towel and gently pat them dry. This step is important to help speed up the drying process.
- Dehydrating the beef:
Place the beef strips in a single layer on the dehydrator trays or oven racks. Make sure there is space between each strip for proper air circulation. If using an oven, you can prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon or oven-safe object to allow moisture to escape. Depending on the thickness of the beef strips and the drying conditions, it can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to fully dehydrate the beef. Check the beef occasionally to monitor its progress.
- Testing for doneness:
To check if the beef jerky is done, remove a piece from the dehydrator or oven and allow it to cool slightly. It should be dry and slightly bendable, with no visible moisture. If the beef is still moist or flexible, return it to the dehydrator or oven and continue drying. Once the beef jerky is fully dried, remove it from the dehydrator or oven and let it cool completely.
Once the beef jerky has cooled down completely, store it in airtight containers or resealable bags. It can be kept at room temperature for several weeks, although it is best to consume it within a week for optimal freshness. You can also refrigerate or freeze the beef jerky for longer shelf life.
My 2 Cents
Making your own old-fashioned beef jerky is not only a fun and rewarding process but also allows you to control the quality of ingredients and flavors. Here are a few tips to enhance your beef jerky-making experience:
– Experiment with flavors: Feel free to customize the marinade by adding your favorite herbs, spices, or even a touch of sweetness with brown sugar or honey.
– Try different cuts of beef: While top round and flank steak are popular choices, you can also try using other cuts like eye of round or sirloin. Just remember to trim off any excess fat before slicing.
– Slice the beef evenly: Cutting the beef into thin and even strips ensures that they dry evenly and have a consistent texture.
– Don’t rush the drying process: Properly dehydrating the beef jerky is essential to prevent spoilage. Take your time and make sure the jerky is completely dried before storing.
– Experiment with drying time: If you prefer a more tender jerky, you can remove it from the dehydrator or oven while it is still slightly pliable. Conversely, if you like a chewier texture, you can let it dry for a longer time.
Now that you know how to make your own old-fashioned beef jerky, you can enjoy this delicious and nutritious snack whenever you want. So grab your ingredients and get started on this tasty adventure!