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Homemade jerky for any taste

By Staff | Jul 26, 2019

Beef jerky makes a good nutritional snack and can be made in a variety of flavors.


GRIT Magazine

Jerky – meat that has been dried to a very low moisture content and usually does not require refrigeration – is a favorite food for many Americans. In days gone by, jerky was made to preserve meat while it was plentiful, and was eaten when fresh meat was scarce. Today, it is often considered a snack food. Jerky is a light, compact protein source, making it a handy food for backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Some say Native Americans made the first jerky thousands of years ago, using buffalo. Others say jerky came from South America, where the Quechua tribe, ancestors of the ancient Incas, produced a dried meat called ch’arki, or charqui. It was made by adding salt to strips of meat and allowing those strips to dry in the sun or over fires. Jerky was used along with dried fruit and animal fat to make pemmican.

Spanish explorers in the Americas learned to make jerky and brought it back to Europe.

Kids of all ages are sure to love chicken jerky. Jerky can also be made using pork, beef, venison and even eggplant.

Later, American cowboys and pioneers adapted making jerky for their travels. Their techniques made jerky an American staple food. The meat strips could be sun-dried or dried on a scaffold over a slow, smoky fire for half a day. If it was not convenient to stop for any length of time, pioneer wagons would lumber along with strips of meat hung on the side to dry. Chuck wagon cooks carried jerky dried in strips that were sometimes 6 feet long. They prepared meals for hungry cowboys by adding chunks of jerky to stew. A lone cowboy would soften the jerky in water for a tasty meal.

Beef jerky makes a good nutritional snack, but it is expensive since a pound of meat dries to about 4 ounces. Jerky can be stored in a cool, dry place in zipper-seal bags for up to three months. However, if you see any moisture forming on the inside of the bag, either dry the jerky further by putting it back in the oven or dehydrator, or refrigerate it.

Whether in the pantry or the refrigerator, you will find jerky too tasty to stay around very long. Here are some things you should know before making this wonderful meaty snack.

  • Jerky can be made by drying it in the sun, the oven, a dehydrator, some sort of smoking apparatus, or even the microwave (though we don’t recommend it).
  • Jerky should be stored in airtight, snap-top containers or zipper-seal bags in a cool, dry place. A vacuum packer is ideal.
  • Small shiny patches of fat on finished jerky can be wiped off before storing.
  • Jerky loses about three-quarters of its weight during the drying process.
  • Flank steak, top round, or any meat with low fat content works well for making jerky.

Smoky peppered beef jerky

The following directions are for making this recipe in the oven. Meat dries to jerky consistency through a combination of salt drawing the moisture from the meat cells and heat continuing the drying process. Until modern times, salt was rubbed directly onto the meat. Current recipes, however, use soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce for their flavor and high sodium content.

4 pounds beef

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon smoke flavoring, hickory or mesquite

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 Slice partially frozen beef from which all extra fat has been removed. (Thin slices about 1/8-inch thick dry faster than 1/4-inch-thick slices.)

Make marinade by mixing soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, smoke flavoring, garlic powder, and cracked black pepper.

Coat slices of beef with marinade by alternately layering meat and sauce, or by mixing marinade and beef. (A glass cake pan is ideal for laying the slices flat.) The beef should be coated but need not be swimming in sauce.

Cover pan and refrigerate for 4 hours, stirring mixture occasionally.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Place beef slices in single layers on cooling racks, and place racks on baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours, then turn and continue baking for 2 additional hours.

After 4 hours, test for dryness. It is ready when meat is barely flexible.

Let cool for 1 hour, then store in airtight, snap-top containers or zipper-seal bags and place in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Candied bacon jerky

By Janice Lawandi, “http://www.KitchenHealsSoul.com”>www.KitchenHealsSoul.com.

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

10 strips bacon

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Use rimmed baking sheet with fitted rack, if possible. Line baking sheet with foil. Place rack over foil, and spray rack generously with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In shallow bowl, combine brown sugar and cayenne, mixing well.

Place bacon in brown sugar mixture, pressing down to coat one side, then turning and coating other side. Shake off excess mixture, and place bacon on prepared rack.

Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning every hour. When done, bacon will be deep mahogany brown and will have shrunk quite a bit.

Cool for a minute, then move slices around every so often to ensure they don’t stick to the rack as they cool completely.

Mitchell brothers’ venison jerky

By Randy, Rick and Ryan Mitchell

The Mitchell brothers-Randy of Ham Lake, Minnesota; Rick of Antlers, Oklahoma; and Ryan of Clayton, Oklahoma-have enjoyed making deer jerky for years. Hunting season starts with the brothers gathering their hunting equipment, and ends with their families getting together to make a supply of venison jerky to last them most of the year.

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 teaspoons lemon pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

10 teaspoons meat tenderizer

1/2 cup liquid smoke

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

2 cups hot water

5 pounds venison, sliced thin

In bowl, blend brown sugar, garlic powder, lemon and red pepper, meat tenderizer, liquid smoke, Worcestershire and teriyaki sauces, and water. Add meat. Cover and chill for 24 hours.

Remove meat from marinade. Wipe excess liquid from meat, and arrange in single layers on dehydrator trays.

Follow directions in your dehydrator manual. Jerky is done when it is barely flexible.

Turkey jerky

By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, www.HomeCooking.about.com.

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid mesquite flavoring

2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound turkey meat, sliced thin

Combine all ingredients except turkey slices in large zipper-seal bag. Add turkey to bag. Seal and squish to coat meat. Unseal and squeeze out all air. Reseal, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Remove turkey from marinade and gently pat off excess moisture with paper towels. Place turkey strips in single layers, with space in between, on dehydrator racks.

Dehydrate until jerky is leathery and chewy, but not crisp enough to snap when bent. See manufacturer directions for approximate cooking times.

Cool completely, then store in zipper-seal bags in refrigerator.

Chicken jerky

From Julianne, a.k.a. The Ninj, www.YankeeKitchenNinja.com.

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into 1/4- to 1/8-inch-thick strips

In 1-gallon zipper-seal bag, combine all ingredients except chicken; mix well. Add chicken strips. Seal bag and ensure that all meat is coated with marinade. Place bag in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Place chicken strips in single layers on dehydrator trays. Dry at 145 degrees for 5 to 7 hours, or until completely dry. Length of drying time will vary depending on thickness of chicken strips.

Eggplant jerky

By Eileen Beran, www.EveryoneEatsRight.com.

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Regular or applewood-smoked salt

Wash eggplant, and then slice it into thin strips. (For ease in snacking, cut long strips in half crosswise.)

In large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, maple syrup, and paprika.

Place eggplant strips, a few at a time, in oil mixture, making sure to completely coat them. (If you run short of marinade, add a little more oil, and stir it in with your hands.) Allow eggplant to marinate for 2 hours.

Dry in oven or food dehydrator.

To dry in oven: Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay eggplant strips on sheets, close together but not overlapping. Sprinkle on a little salt; you don’t need much. Place in oven on lowest setting for 10 to 12 hours (lowest settings vary, thus drying time will vary), or until dry and fairly crisp, turning strips partway through. Check occasionally, and if any oil pools on the sheets, blot with paper towel.

To dry in food dehydrator: Lay eggplant strips on mesh trays. Strips should be close but not overlapping. Sprinkle on a little salt; not too much. Place trays in dehydrator. Some oil may drip off during dehydrating, so place tray with solid sheet underneath mesh trays holding eggplant strips, and lay a couple paper towels on sheet. Dehydrate at 115 F for 12 to 18 hours, or until dry and fairly crisp.

Cool eggplant jerky thoroughly, and then store in airtight containers or plastic bags. Place paper towel under or around strips to absorb any excess oil.

Discover more protein-packed snacks at www.grit.com.

Excerpted from Grit. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2019 by Ogden Publications Inc.

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