Make Beef Jerky

Homemade jerky recipes.


| July/August 1984


In our country's early days, jerking meat—that is, cutting it into thin strips and then drying it—was the main method of preserving it. When meat was treated in this way, it kept longer than when it was preserved with salt or other spices. For Native Americans, cowboys, trappers, and frontier people, Jerky made from beef, venison, or buffalo meat was an important food for long trips.

Today, jerky is more of a treat than a necessity. When I was eight years old, my mother stumbled upon a recipe for beef jerky. She was looking for a nutritious snack ... one that wasn't sweet and yet was tasty enough for me to eat without complaining. Needless to say, I had my doubts when she first asked me to try it. I tasted a piece, not expecting much. To my surprise, it was really good! Last year she taught me how to make beef jerky. I had my doubts about this, too, but again I was surprised: It was easier to make than I thought it would be.

There are two kinds of beef jerky: simple and marinated (soaked in spicy ingredients to add flavor). I think the marinated kind tastes better. Just about anything you put together as a marinade will be OK, except barbecue sauce. Once my mother and I tried a marinade of honey and vinegar. To be perfectly frank, it tasted terrible! You also have to be careful not to use too much hot sauce or pepper.

My mother's original recipe called for Worcestershire sauce. That contains artificial flavorings, though, so I substituted soy sauce bought at a health food store. The recipe also included celery salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. All of those have chemicals added to keep them free flowing, so I use fresh garlic, onion, and celery instead. Here are my recipes.

All-Natural Beef Jerky Recipe

Trim off all the fat from one round steak (3/4" to 1" thick). Cut the meat into thin strips and place them in an oblong pan. Combine these ingredients in a saucepan:

5 tablespoons of pure soy sauce
2 tablespoons of salt (or a salt substitute)
2 tablespoons of pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of hot sauce





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