The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Homemade Beef Jerky

Are you a lover of cured meats, especially beef jerky? If so, then you know that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the taste of jerky. Some like it sweet, others prefer it spicy, and there are those who enjoy the smoky flavor. But what if you could make your own homemade beef jerky that perfectly suits your taste buds? Well, you can! And here are some simple ways to prepare beef jerky that you might find surprisingly easy.

Essential Tools for Homemade Beef Jerky

Before you start your beef jerky-making adventure, make sure you have all the necessary tools at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An oven or a dehydrator
  • Large ziplock bags
  • A refrigerator or a freezer
  • Ingredients for a marinade
  • A sharp knife and a cutting board

These are the basic tools you’ll need to make your own beef jerky. Check your kitchen and pantry – if you have all these items, you’re already halfway there. Now, all you need is the meat.

Choosing the Best Meat for Jerky

When it comes to choosing the right meat for jerky, you’re somewhat limited in options. The two most common choices are top round and bottom round. These cuts of meat are lean and packed with flavor, making them ideal for beef jerky.

While some people opt for sirloin tip, it’s not as lean and can be tougher to chew. Additionally, it tends to be more expensive than top or bottom round. Flank steak is another option, but it usually has a layer of fat that needs to be trimmed, resulting in less dry meat after curing.

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Keep in mind that around two pounds of fresh beef will shrink to about one pound of beef jerky after drying. Consider this when purchasing the meat for your homemade beef jerky recipe.

The Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

Now that you know what kind of meat to look for, head to the butcher’s shop and gather all the ingredients for the beef jerky marinade. Here’s the complete list:

  • 2 pounds of lean beef (Top or bottom round)
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce (use low sodium soy if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned curing salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes or brown sugar for flavor

Once you have all the ingredients, prepare the meat for curing. Place the meat in the freezer for one or two hours to make it easier to cut. Meanwhile, prepare the marinade.

The Perfect Jerky Marinade

Marinating the meat before drying it enhances the flavors and is crucial to the success of your homemade beef jerky. Here’s how to prepare the marinade:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Add the onion powder and garlic powder, continuing to mix.
  3. Slowly pour in the curing salt while whisking to help it dissolve. Be sure not to add all the salt at once, and taste it frequently to prevent it from becoming too strong.
  4. Lastly, grind fresh black pepper and thoroughly whisk it into the mixture.
  5. For an extra kick, add red pepper flakes. If you prefer a sweeter taste, opt for brown sugar instead.
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Let the marinade sit at room temperature – there’s no need to refrigerate it.

Preparing the Homemade Beef Jerky

Take the meat out of the freezer and use a sharp knife to slice it into 1/8-inch thick strips, either with or against the grain. Don’t worry if the slices appear thick; they will shrink significantly during curing.

At this point, you don’t need to preheat the oven. The meat needs to stay in the marinade to further enhance its flavors, and it is still frozen. Place the meat slices in a large ziplock bag, pour in the marinade, and seal the bag. Mix well to ensure that every strip is coated in the flavorful liquid. Marinate in the refrigerator for one to two days to allow the meat to absorb all the delicious flavors.

Choosing Your Cooking Method

When it comes to drying your homemade beef jerky, you have two options: using an oven or a dehydrator. Both methods are equally effective in transforming raw meat into delicious cured jerky.

If you only plan to make beef jerky occasionally, using your oven is a great choice. It requires no additional investment, but keep in mind that the meat may not cook evenly, and you might need to clean up the oven afterward.

If you’re considering making homemade beef jerky frequently, investing in a dehydrator is wise. These devices are easy to use, ensure even cooking, and are generally less messy.

Oven Method for Homemade Beef Jerky

Follow these steps to make beef jerky in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°F.
  2. Line two oven trays with aluminum foil, and place a sheet of baking paper over each tray for easier cleaning.
  3. Put a wire rack on each tray.
  4. Take the meat out of the marinade and slice the meat into thin portions on the wire racks, arranging them in a single layer.
  5. Place the two oven racks in the centermost positions.
  6. Bake the meat for three to four hours, or until it becomes dry.
  7. Remove the meat from the oven and let it cool down at room temperature.
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Dehydrator Method for Homemade Beef Jerky

For those using a dehydrator, follow these steps:

  1. Take the meat out of the marinade and place the slices on the dehydrator trays, ensuring a single layer.
  2. Follow the dehydrator’s instructions for cooking beef jerky. Cooking times vary depending on the brand and meat thickness. Always ensure the beef jerky is fully cooked before consuming.

Regardless of the drying method you choose, transfer the beef jerky to airtight containers once they’ve cooled down. Ziplock bags or airtight glass jars work well. At room temperature, the jerky will last about a week, while refrigerated, it can be enjoyed for up to a month. Contrary to popular belief, making beef jerky at home is a breeze!

Not up for crafting your own jerky? Check out the delicious jerky options available at Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ!

Now that you have all the knowledge, it’s time to embark on your homemade beef jerky journey. Enjoy the process and savor the delicious results!