How to make beef jerky?

+57 votes
asked Sep 17, 2015 in Food & Drink by OrvalMcCullo (240 points)
My son recently discovered the tasteful delight in beef jerky. I have found a few recipes online that I wanted to try, like this one:

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-homemade-beef-or-turkey-snack-recipes-from-the-kitchn-95962

But do you have any tips on how to make beef jerky before I start?

3 Answers

+17 votes
answered Oct 12, 2015 by LaurenceElmo (370 points)
For the most part, you can just follow those online instructions. However, I would like to give my suggestions on the most commonly neglected process in making beef jerky, namely, marinating. The most important thing is to keep a close watch on when you make a beef jerky is the marinating time, because it will determine the degree of flavor of the meat. For mild flavor, marinade the cut beef in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 hours. Adjust the length of time depending on how you want your finished product to taste. Normally, you don’t want to exceed 6 hours even for the most flavorful meats.

I find using a zip lock bag is the best way to marinate. Just throw in all the marinating ingredients and spices into the bag with the meat, seal the bag, shake a little to make sure that the meat is evenly coated, then store the bag in the refrigerator.
+10 votes
answered Oct 20, 2015 by Micheline443 (410 points)
There is a trick that I learned from my mother, which is to trim all the fat around the meat before you slice it into serving sizes. This is very important if you don’t want to end up with a rancid meat after curing. To make sure that I don’t mess it up, I only buy beef with very little fat. The less amount of fat to start with, the better. Then I carefully trim the fat around the meat until all that’s left is lean meat. Throw it into the freezer for a couple of hours, just enough to stiffen the meat for easy cutting. Don’t allow it to freeze!
+8 votes
answered Oct 3, 2015 by JacobCullen (330 points)
The online instructions on how to make beef jerky sometimes might appear misleading, especially with regard to the weight of the ingredients. I find it better to weigh the meat after cutting, not before. If the recipe requires 1lb of lean meat, it means 1lb of meat after trimming. This is the case for almost every recipe you can find online. Make sure that you buy a little more than what the recipe requires so you don’t end up with less meat than what is required.

If after trimming you ended up with not enough meat, adjust the amount of the other ingredients accordingly. This will need a little tinkering that may end up bad if you are not careful with your measurements. Don’t be tempted to just throw it all together and hope for the best results! The less meat you put into the recipe, the more salty your beef jerky will become. And sometimes, the whole batch could be ruined!
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