We recently bought a dehydrator to make healthy snacks for on the go. I had visions of banana chips and dried papaya in my head, but I knew that Garrett wanted something a little heartier – Beef Jerky!
I have to admit that until we made this, I had never tried beef jerky, but I’d always been intrigued by the idea of it. What had kept me away in the past was all the preservatives in store bought jerky, as well as the price. It’s about $2 an ounce at the store verses $12 for about two pounds of homemade jerky. A four pound roast turns into about two pounds of jerky after it has been dehydrated.
But this? This I can get behind. It is a great savoury snack for those days when we’re on the run and might not have time to stop for lunch. I’m looking forward to making this in the summer when we go camping or to the cottage.
I picked up a 4 pound eye of round roast from the butcher shop. It needs to be a very lean cut of meat because any fat can go rancid quickly. Marbling and fat are bad when you’re making jerky. I’ve also read about people using flank steak, but my butcher highly recommended eye of round.
Place wrapped meat in the freezer for approximately 1-2 hours to partially freeze the surface of the beef to the make it easier to slice evenly.
Once the beef is partially frozen, remove from the freezer, and unwrap. Using a sharp knife, remove all visible fat. You can either cut it with the grain for a chewier, tougher texture or against the grain for an easier texture, which is what I prefer. I have a comparison shot at the end of this post. Slice the partially frozen beef into 3/8 inch thick slices, trimming the fast as you go.
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp ground red cayenne pepper or chili flakes
- pinch of salt
Mix together marinade in a large plastic bag. Add beef slices to bag and refrigerate for 8-24 hours. I just left it in the fridge overnight.
Remove the marinated beef from the refrigerator and drain off the marinade. Using paper towels, pat the meat dry. Arrange the meat strips on the trays of your food dehydrator, leaving enough room between pieces to allow air to flow around the meat.
Our dehydrator came with four trays, so I made sure to leave lots of space between them for air to flow.
Depending on your food dehydrator and the thickness of the meat slices, it can take from 6 to 14 hours to dry a batch. Mine took 12 hours, but read the directions for your own dehydrator because it can vary between different machines. Rotate the trays from the top half down to the bottom a couple of times through the drying time, to let everything dry evenly.
When the jerky is dry, you should be able to bend a piece and see no moisture inside, but it shouldn’t be so dry that it will break. You want it to be chewy and leathery. Remove the jerky to a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool completely. It may still be fairly warm when you take it out of the dehydrator.
When the jerky is completely cool, store in an air tight jar. Plastic zip-lock bags can produce moisture and are not recommended, unless you plan to eat it very soon. Store the jerky in the refrigerator or even longer in the freezer.
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