Beef jerky has been a rising star in the snack category in recent years even though the practice of making jerky dates back thousands of years. The word jerky comes from a South American term that translates to “dried salted meat.”Simply put, jerky is lean strips of meat that have had their water content removed through a dehydration process and salted to prevent bacteria growth. Jerky can also be seasoned with a sweet or semi-sweet recipe. When prepared properly, beef jerky will keep for months without refrigeration, making it a portable snack that can be enjoyed year-round.
Beef jerky is low in fat and high in protein, making it a favorite snack among fitness and paleo enthusiasts. This time of the year it’s perfect for take camping, hiking, and on road trips. And grass-fed beef like Verde Farms’ is well suited for beef jerky recipes, because it’s leaner compared to conventional grain-fed beef.
You don’t need any special equipment to make your own beef jerky at home. All you need is time and a little patience. Here’s a recipe we like adapted from TheHealthyFoodie for Hot & Spicy Homemade Beef Jerky.
Yield: Yields about 650g of finished jerky
2kg (5lb) grass-fed beef brisket (or other lean cut such as top round, flank or sirloin)
1 cup sweet apple cider (or unsweetened apple juice)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup unpasteurized honey
2 tbsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp Himalayan salt
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp crushed chili pepper
2 dried chipotle peppers, chopped
1/4 tsp ground clove
1. Remove all traces of visible fat from your piece (or pieces) of meat. Place the meat in the freezer for about 60 to 90 minutes, which will make it easier to slice thinly. Don’t wait until the meat is frozen solid; you just want ice crystals to start to form. It should be really firm but you should still be able to pierce it with the point of a sharp knife.
2. Slice the meat in long thin strips, going with or against the grain depending on your preference. Jerky sliced against the grain tends to be easier to chew and breaks more easily into pieces whereas jerky that is sliced with the grain will be a lot chewier and somewhat leathery.
3. Place your meat in a re-sealable plastic bag, or non-reactive container with fitting lid, and set aside.
4. In a large measuring cup or mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix until very well combined. Pour over the sliced meat and mix everything around until all the strips are completely covered.
5. Place your meat in the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight.
6. Cover the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to catch the drippings.
7. Remove the strips of meat from the marinade and place them directly on your oven racks. No need to pat them dry, just let the strips drip a little bit as you remove them. If you have smaller pieces that will not fit on the racks without falling right through the cracks, arrange them on a cooling rack and place that rack right over the oven rack. You can even stack it right on top of an oven rack that already has meat on it: simply rest it on a few shot glasses or egg cups or other suitable small object. Don’t worry about it burning or breaking – the oven temperature will not be that high.
8. Place your racks back in the oven, the higher the better, and set your oven temperature to 170F. If you have a convection oven, by all means, use that setting. Crack the oven door slightly open by sticking a wooden spoon or crushed aluminum can in the door. This will allow some of the heat to escape so the meat has a chance to dry without cooking.
9. Let the meat dry for about 3 hours, then flip it over and give it another 3 hours or so. Total cooking time depends a lot on the size and thickness of your strips.
10. Your jerky will be done when it’s dry enough that you can rip off a piece easily but not so dry that it’ll snap if you bend it.
11. Leave the jerky out to cool for a couple of hours, up to 24, then transfer to an airtight container or sealed plastic bag where it will keep unrefrigerated for 4 to 6 months.