Five simple tips you need to make your own delicious homemade jerky – plus an easy recipe. ~ by Serena Ball, MS, RD
In terms of ‘amount of praise received’ for ‘amount of effort expended’ homemade jerky has an excellent ratio: Like 10:1.
Imagine you are hiking with friends – or even at a soccer game; you pull out your homemade jerky and offer some to fellow hikers or fans. Their response: “Wow, this is great! It’s sweet, salty, spicy and a little smokey.”
Your response, “Thanks I made it myself.”
“Wow! You did?! Do you have a smoker and have you been chopping cherry wood – because this is such subtle sweet smoke.”
OK, maybe the conversation would go slightly different from that – but every friend with whom I’ve shared this – loves it. Even my former Chicago neighbor – who was a meatatarian (My definition: He ate meat only, so he was an EXPERT in cooking it)…told me, “I like this jerky better than my own!”
This stuff is so easy to make. Here are some tips:
- Change up the spice mix to your taste: Add more spiced paprika if you like spice, use ground oregano if desired. Just make sure all spices are ground to help them adhere to the meat. The amount of salt is your preference but there is way, way less salt than found in commercial versions.
- My recipe makes about 3 tablespoons of spice mix; use for 1 pound of meat. Multiply this recipe up to 5 times to keep proportions correct. That’s a tip from Eileen Clarke author of Slice of the Wild the book from which this recipe originated before my adaptations.
- Use your oven as a dehydrator. If you have a convection oven, use that setting. You could use a food dehydrator, but I don’t lug mine out for this short cooking time.
- I use venison, but you could use beef or any meat as long as it’s fairly lean and cut 1/4-1/8-inch thick. I want to try this for Turkey Jerky!
- Most importantly: Make sure you have time to freeze meat for at least 45 minutes before slicing – or plan to start with frozen meat (that you slightly unthaw in the microwave for about 1 minute on defrost setting.) Mostly frozen meat is easier to slice thinly.