I waited a really long time to make my own jerky and I’m kind of annoyed at myself for it. I was scared it’d be a disaster and I’d waste our precious grass-fed beef. The result couldn’t be further from the truth!
On a recent road trip we took to attend a family wedding, I was checking out the jerky options at the store before we headed out of town. It’s silly that I was surprised at all by the contents of the options they had. I shouldn’t be surprised at all by now, right?
All the usual suspects: MSG, nitrites/nitrates, and extremely high levels of sodium. I’m not sure how it tastes so dang good with all that crap packed in. And don’t even get me started on those processed, pre-formed Slim Jims. I loved those things as a kid!
So we’re back to where we always end up. Make your own. It’s always easier than you think it’s gonna be. You just have to bite the bullet and try it. Unfortunately though, this is NOT one of those times where it’s cheaper to make your own than buy it. Especially if you pay for good quality meat. But I’d say the flavor (and health factor) make it worth it. At least to have on hand occasionally. I have a couple of slices for an afternoon or late night snack, and let’s be honest–I have even had them for breakfast a couple of times.
The list of ingredients looks long but it’s just a bunch of spices. And it’s completely flexible, you can swap out what you don’t like for something you think may be good, just keep the liquid the same. Chipotle powder (if you like heat), cajun seasoning, Thai or Indian spices would be great here if applied in small amounts. And you could leave off the spices completely if you want to make a more bland version for your pets! Our Paleo doggies go crazy over this jerky.
Easy Homemade Jerky
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. coconut aminos
dash of liquid smoke (get a natural one like this)
1/4 c. avocado oil
1 t. honey or maple syrup
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried minced onion
1/2 t. ground mustard
1/2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. ground pepper
Partially freeze your beef (or if thawing from frozen, just partially thaw it). You do not want it rock hard but it should not be fully thawed either–this helps with slicing. With a very sharp knife, slice long 1/8″ pieces against the grain.
In a large zip-top bag, combine remaining ingredients and add the sliced beef. Seal the bag and massage it well to combine and evenly coat the strips. Marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
Once marinated, move the beef from the bag to the sheets of your dehydrator, shaking off as much of the marinade as possible. Leave room between each strip of beef for the air to circulate (as show above).
Set your dehydrator to 160F and cook 6-8 hours for softer, chewy jerky or 10-12 hours from crispier jerky. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Note: if you don’t have a dehydrator, set your oven to the lowest setting (preferably not higher than 200F). Place the beef on cooling racks, spaced evenly throughout. Place the racks in the oven and cook with a wooden spoon stuck between the door of the oven to allow for circulation. Cooking times will vary based on oven temperatures.