Quick and Easy Homemade Jerky

Make preservative-free jerky at home, with equipment no more special than your own oven, following these recipes and preparation techniques.

| April/May 1992

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    Slicing the meat uniformly is important—if the strips are not all about the same thickness, figuring how long to dry them becomes a guessing game rather than a calculated effort.
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    When your meat is ready to dry, space evenly to allow for air circulation. Leave the oven door open to allow moisture to escape. Cook at 200°F for about an hour and a half, longer if you like your jerky a little more crispy.

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As a youngster, I developed an affinity for homemade jerky. My dad and I enjoyed the hours we spent tending jerky as it slowly dried over a smoky fire. I often ate it as a snack (and sometimes as a trail lunch) and always found it delicious.

While my dad's jerky was always tender and tasty, I just can't find the time necessary to make it the old-fashioned way. Fortunately, I've discovered an unusually fast and easy way to prepare jerky.

Late one afternoon during a search-and-rescue-team training session, another team member handed me a slice of jerky to sample. He said he had made it entirely in his own kitchen; he had even dried it in his oven! It was as good as any I had ever eaten and much better than what's sold in grocery stores. My friend shared his simple technique with me, and now I use it frequently. Jerky made this way never lasts long around my house.

Jerky is made best with a lean variety of meat. A few of the possibilities include turkey, beef, buffalo, elk, and venison. The one principle that remains constant regardless of the meat you use is: The better the cut of meat, the more tender the resulting jerky. Round steak, flank steak, sirloin tip, and rump roast are also good choices.

Cold meat slices easier and thinner than warm meat. Therefore, before actually beginning to prepare meat for drying, cover it completely with plastic wrap and place it in a freezer. Leave it there until the texture of the meat begins to stiffen.

After removing from the freezer, lay the meat on a cutting board. Cut out bone, tendons, and any thick connecting tissue. Then, using a very sharp knife, trim off the fat. This is the most important step in the preparation of jerky. Fat spoils quickly, causing unappetizing flavors to develop during the drying and storage process. Trimming the fat off wild game will also tone down strong flavors associated with it.

9/17/2008 10:31:43 AM

I found this site helpful: http://BeefJerkyRecipes.com - Search 100's of Beef Jerky Recipes by: Meat Type, Flavor, and Cooking Method. Users can rate recipes and even submit their own. I made jerky from their sweet & sour beef jerky recipe last week and it was awesome! Try it: http://beefjerkyrecipes.com/meat-type/beef-jerky/sweet-sour-jerky-recipe/ Any other good recipes i should try?


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