Home Jerky Making Made Simple

I need to preface this by saying the following; Making jerky isn’t Super Quick! Easy! Fast! but this recipe is simple. If you equate easy/quick/simple together…well then you probably shouldn’t be making jerky.

BUT! If you’re looking for a jerky recipe that doesn’t involve fancy prep, no fancy tools besides a dehydrator, although you could use an oven on low (jerky gun anyone? no thank you…) and is dang delicious…

I’m your gal!

When I first started making jerky, it always seemed pretty complicated. We no longer use complicated marinades. If you’re using good meat, then the taste of the meat deserves to shine, not be hidden by potent marinades. We decided that we LOVE the taste of the venison, basically adorned and dehydrated nicely, and from there I came up with delicious, simple recipes.

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Step ONE;

Pick you meat! The meat really does matter. Don’t use a braising roast full of sinew and tendons. You won’t be rewarded with good jerky. Use a medium-high quality, fairly sinew/silver skin/tendon free red meat that is FAT FREE. Fat=rancid yucky jerky. Venison is SO lean around these parts so it’s perfect for jerky making. I choose backstraps, steaks and nice roasts for making jerky. This may seem like it costs a lot if you buy it, but I saw crappy feedlot beef jerky ON SALE for $5 for 70 grams. Yikes, jerky is expensive to buy! You could use venison, beef, moose or any other red meat that fits the description I gave you. 

Step TWO;

If your meat is frozen, partially thaw it, if it’s fresh, partially freeze it on a tray. Meat slices nicer when it’s kinda frozen. Because size of meat chunks/freezers/etc vary so much, I’ll give you this guideline.; Thaw it until pressing it has some give, but when you slice into it, it’s still 2/3 frozen.

If it’s fresh and you’re freezing it, then the outside will be frozen, not the inside, but I’d say most likely a couple hours and halfway frozen.

When you are slicing meat for stir-frying, breading or other fresh eating, you want to slice against the grain, this makes it easier to chew, slice, eat and taste. With Jerky, you want to slice WITH the grain, so that it’s chewier and holds together well. Jerky sliced against the grain is not nice, you will be disapointed.

So what do I mean by SLICING THE MEAT WITH THE GRAIN?

Below is a photo of a backstrap. We butcher our backstraps  into 6-8 inch long pieces, and for jerky, I cut them in half again. I stood the piece of backstrap up on the freshly cut end and sliced down. I laid it on it’s side to show you how I cut WITH THE GRAIN. I know I keep saying that, but it’s really important.

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Here is a photo of venison backstrap sliced where AGAINST THE GRAIN is exposed.

IMG_6597Thickness is upto you, but basically as thin as you can. I’m not even, my pieces are all over the place size wise. Having all your pieces uniform is less important than having each piece fairly similar thinness/thickness. It doesn’t matter if some pieces are done before others, but it makes better jerky if a piece dries evenly and isn’t super thick and one end and super thin at the other.

Step THREE;

Marinade that meat! Overnight is best, or all day if you’d like? 8 hours minimum, upto 48 hours. So if you forget about it marinating, no biggie, just more flavah.

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Step FOUR;

Dehydrate that meat! Lay it out on your dehydrator trays, on the highest heat setting. If your dehydrator doesn’t have heat settings, then I suggest not using it and choosing the oven instead. When I dehydrate things in my oven, I put my cooling racks on my half sheet pans (they are a perfect fit!) and put the meat on the cooling racks. This catches any drips, and makes it a tidier process.

My dehydrator needs to be babied a bit. I switch the trays around every couple hours, and after about 4 hours I’m pulling pieces off and consolidating racks. There is always a few thick pieces that just take forever and end up getting way too dry.

How dry do I do it?

Well, if you overdry it, its pretty brital and takes some chewing in your mouth to be tasty. I dry until there is no soft spots in the meat, and if I rip a piece open it’s the same colour throughout. When in doubt, take it off when you want to eat it and store it in the fridge or freezer. 

How long does it keep?

It never lasts as long as it keeps around here…but I’d say a week on the counter, or much longer in the freezer. I’m about to take all our leftover venison that’s appropriate and make it into jerky, and I’ll be vaccum packing it and putting it back in the freezer. If not to make it last longer before going bad, but so we don’t eat it all in one go…

Finally, How much jerky will this make?

I can’t give you an exact number…cause we did some quality control testing straight off the dehydrator trays…but I can tell you that my 8 tray Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator will hold 4 pounds of meat. Each pound(1 pound equals 454 grams) of meat made a minimum of 150 grams of jerky. I wrote farther up that I’d seen crappy jerky for $5/70 grams on sale. I’ve never even seen jerky available in Canada made from good meat! A quick online search tells me that for $13/80 grams I can get  British Columbia Raised, Grass Fed/Finished beef jerky. So in not very much time I made 3.5 pounds of meat into 550+ grams of jerky. That’s close to 7 packages of their jerky, at $13/package my grand total would have been $91, plus shipping.

So is jerky quick and easy to make? No. Is it simple and economical? YES!

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The Recipes

Luckily for YOU I have not one, not two but THREE recipes for you to try out! I did plan to photograph them separately buuuuut then the trays got mixed around. Then Mac consolidated them into one bowl. Whoops.

Teriyaki Jerky

1 lb Red Meat (See above for how to choose)

1 tbsp Soy Sauce (We use naturally fermented Tamari Sauce)

1 tbsp Raw Honey

1 tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Cumin Jerky

1 lb Red Meat (See above for how to choose)

1 tbsp Lemon or Lime Juice

1 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

Black Pepper Jerky

1.5 lb Red Meat (See above for how to choose)

1 Tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tsp Smoked Sea Salt (I get it at Mountain Rose Herbs online, but feel free to sub for regular sea salt)

Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste. This is upto you, I did 60-80 grinds with my half decent pepper mill. Look in the marinating meat photo, that’s how much black pepper it was. It had a teeny bit of heat to it, but I’m a whimp on heat. It had a lovely black pepper flavour and if I was doing it only for Marius I would have done twice the amount as he loves the heat/flavour of black pepper.

Method; 

Follow above steps for picking meat and slicing meat. In a bowl combine marinade ingredients (no matter which one you’re using), add in the sliced meat, stir together well, using your hands to knead it in. Put in the fridge in a sealed container for 8 hours minimum, upto 48.

Follow Dehydrating steps above and Enjoy! And try not to eat it all in one go?

The day after I made it I had the pleasure of harvesting flowers for market at Bullock Lake Farm, (before weeding a giant patch of carrots and beets…) and I had jerky in my overalls, cutting Status and Sunflowers and snackin’ away. It was a beautiful morning.

Here is some of the breathtakingly beautiful flowers that they grow!

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