The One about Making Jerky

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Growing up, I loved beef jerky.

May it be the ground beef variety ala Slim Jim or the harder version that you would find at your local supermarket.

I recently purchased a Gourmia GFD1650 Premium Countertop Food Dehydrator to dehydrate my vegetables and fruits.  My experience with this machine, I will discuss in another blog post, but for now, let’s focus on the jerky!

For those who are not familiar with jerky, the word jerky is derived from the Quechua word “ch’arki” which means “dried, salted meat”.  Jerky sold in stores are typically lean meat trimmed of fat and cut into strips and is dried to prevent spoilage.

When I purchased my dehydrator, I wanted to try making beef jerky and so I ordered a Lem Jerky Gun which came with jerky seasoning.  The jerky gun is great for those who want to make ground beef jerky in the cylindrical shape (like a “Slim Jim”) or a flat strip.  The jerky gun comes attachments that can make both.

And also, I like the fact that with making my own jerky, I can control the softness and not make it hard like the jerky sold at stores that hurt your teeth or get caught between your teeth and irritates your gums.  I wanted it soft, but dehydrated long enough (my magic time is between 6-7 hours in the dehydrator).

I decided that I would make three types of jerky: Lean Ground Beef, Ground Chicken and Top Sirloin Steak (there is a fourth type – venison but I prepared it like the siroin).  I shared all four with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers and they all absolutely loved it.  While the majority loved the sirloin, for many it was almost a tie with the lean ground beef and it was really subjective to the viewer.

Ground chicken was a pain because the ground chicken I had wasn’t fully grounded and so it got stuck in the jerky gun.  But chicken required 6-7 hours and then baking it at 250 degrees for 10-minutes because poultry must be cooked over 165 degrees, most dehydrators only go up to 158 degrees.  But while many people enjoyed it and it was good, it’s just a hassle and takes longer.

The venison jerky (part of a leg from a deer given to me by a friend), as much as it was easy to make, it has a gamey, wild aftertaste.  You eat the jerky and it tastes like beef jerky at first but after you savor it, there is an aftertaste that I was unable to shake off and others said the same.  While my friends who hunt and are used to hunting meat in the wild, enjoyed it.

But here are my recipes for the top two beef jerky that everyone enjoyed.

Ground Beef Jerky

This one is too easy.  Purchase the LEM Jerky seasoning which is good for 5 pounds of lean ground beef. I recommend purchasing lean ground beef up to five pounds and use this entire single packet.

Put your lean ground beef into a big bowl and pour the package contents.  It comes with a curing packet, which you add as well.  And pretty much for five minutes rub those spices into the meat.

While I love LEM Jerky Seasoning, Ravens is another awesome season that one should find.

Raven’s jerky is famous and it’s located in a very small town, Armona, but may travel to this small town to purchase jerky or spices from Ravens.  Fortunately, you can order these spices from their website.

Get your jerky gun/canon ready and fill up the canister with ground beef, making sure you choose your attachment if you want to make round jerky or in strips.  And create your jerky on your dehydrator trays.

Each time I have done five pounds, it was enough to use all six trays.

Set your dehydrator to 7 hours and then 158 degrees (which is my highest setting on my dehydrator).  Alternate positions of the trays every 2-3 hours and check on it on the sixth hour (while it’s ready, you will want to see if your preference is soft or if you want it a little harder, so then wait another hour and keep checking).  For me, I noticed that the sixth hour was perfect.  But I have left it on six and half to seven hours for experimenting.

But the taste is fantastic for ground beef jerky and received a lot of compliments for it.

Sirloin Steak Beef Jerky or Flank Steak Beef Jerky

(Note: I’ve tried different types of meat to see how well it does, such as carne asada, stir fry meat to New York steak cut into thin strips and sirloin and flank steak was my favorite).

The following recipe is good for four pounds of the steak (I buy two 2-pound packages – I usually do 3 pounds).  Cut your steak into very thin strips and put that in a large bowl.

Now in the same bowl, add the following:

  • 2/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes

With all contents added, now work the mixed ingredients into the meat. Cover the bowl and put it inside your refrigerator to marinate for 4-6 hours (I recommend letting it marinate for the full six hours).

After marinating, now it’s time to dehydrate your meat at 158 degrees for 6.5 and 7 hours.  This keeps the steak soft but if you want it tough like what you may have experienced from beef jerky at the store, then you leave it in for another hour or two.

This recipe is what I received the most compliments for.  People absolutely loved it.

But you get more jerky with ground beef jerky and you don’t have to marinate, you just rub the mix in and it’s ready to be put in the dehydrator.  With steak jerky, it’s six hours to marinate and another 6-7 hours to dehydrate.

When your done making your jerky, just remember to put it in a air-tight container and put it inside your refrigerator.  This will keep the jerky fresh for a month.

But if anything, both jerky recipes are absolutely delicious.  And despite it looking like you a have a month’s supply of jerky, don’t be surprised that it goes quickly.  And if anything, you’ll definitely put that dehydrator to good use!



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Dennis A. Amith