Most people don’t think of beef jerky when they are trying to come up with a healthy, filling, low calorie snack. Beef jerky is also high in protein and low in fat. Best of all, you can make your own in 5 simple steps.
STEP 1: Select Meat Choosing a lean cut of beef is best for ease of preparation and flavor. You can’t go wrong with sirloin, top round or eye round. But don’t forget! Although jerky is traditionally made using beef– turkey, chicken, deer and fish make a delicious jerky snack you won’t want to pass up!
STEP 2: Slice Meat Cut the meat into slices approximately 1/8” thick, trimming off all of the fat as you go. You can cut with or against the grain of the meat…some say cutting strips against the grain make a jerky that easier to chew. And here’s a trick of the trade! Freeze the meat for 20-30 minutes before slicing to make this step a breeze!
STEP 3: Marinate Meat This is my favorite step…get creative! Place the meat in a container and coat it with whatever you want! Try a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh ground pepper and water for a sweet jerky or kick it up a little with your favorite bottle of spicy marinade, some cayenne pepper flakes and a good 20 shakes of Louisiana Hot Sauce! Place in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours to allow the meat to absorb the flavor. Check out http://www.jerky.com/Beef-Jerky-Recipes.html for some great flavor ideas.
Step 4: Dehydrate Meat Preheat your oven to 150 degrees. Place strips of meat on a wire rack over a foil-lined cookie sheet and place in the oven. Keep the oven door cracked a bit while drying to let out any extra moisture. If you are making your jerky in a dehydrator, place meat evenly on racks, making sure the strips are not touching. Now remember…this step takes time. The perfect jerky can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours to complete…but trust me–it’s worth the wait!! Begin to check the jerky frequently after 6 to 7 hours. Your jerky will be done when it appears firm and dry. It should bend so it cracks a bit, but should not snap in half.
STEP 5: Store Meat If you are anything like me and will eat up your jerky in a matter of days, you can store it in a sealed container or Ziploc baggie at room temperature. Also, placing jerky in plastic bags and storing it in your refrigerator or freezer will ensure freshness for several months!
STEP 6: ENJOY!! I know, I know! I said “Five Easy Steps” and I actually have six! But this one doesn’t require any work at all! Enjoy your jerky…whatever kind you make! And don’t forget that it’s healthy! High in protein and low in fat. So whether it’s a for an afternoon snack, a munchie to pack with the camping gear or an ‘extra’ in the kids’ lunchbox…after you make your own jerky, all you have to do is enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!