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There are few people who have eaten even the store bought variety of jerky, that do not find the deliciously spicy flavor of this dried meat will keep drawing them back for more. Jerky was a staple of American Indians and frontiersmen as a means of survival. This tough, almost indestructible, nutritious meat can remain edible for years if properly stored. Today, jerky is a favorite of back-packers and campers who love the light weight, compact convenience of such meat products. Pork, poultry, beef, venison, buffalo and even some fish can be turned into jerky if the proper techniques are applied. These tips will tell you how simple jerky is to make right in your own kitchen and get you started on the path to jerking.
To begin, choose the meat you will be jerking. Many meat markets today will thin slice your meat of choice if you explain you are planning to make jerky. If find it necessary to slice your own meats, begin by cutting the meat into 4 inch X 6 inch squares. Next, take a very sharp knife and make a cut in the center of the square of meat, cutting through to within a 1\4 inch of the bottom. Turn the meat and cut outward from the bottom, unwrapping the meat as you cut, until you have a long thin slice. Reverse the meat and do the same with the other side. Try to make sure you keep the cut running about 1\4 inch thick. When the meat is cut you will want to slice it into strips and cure it. This can be done with pure pickling salt by dipping both sides of each piece of meat into the salt. Suspend the meat from racks and allow to dry in an oven set at 100 to 120 degrees for 2 to 4 hours.
When the curing process is complete, rinse off all excess salt and dry the meat by pressing it between paper towels. Lay the strips out on a cookie sheet and place in a 175 to 200 degree oven until all the meat is stiff and dry. Allow your jerky to cool in the oven so that any excess moisture will escape. Once the jerky is cooled, it can be place in air tight plastic bags or containers for storage. Be sure to check these containers in about 4 hours for any moisture that might collect and if moisture is present place the jerky back in your oven for additional drying.