Beef jerky… the stories I could tell you about this stuff… I’m just going to say that I would marry beef jerky if that were possible (thinking about moving to state or country). Anyway, beef jerky’s awesome and, from where I stand, has but one caveat – not enough of it to go around. I mean, c’ mon, I know it’s supposed to be emergency food or trail food, but who in God’s name eats just one 20g bag? It’s like saying “hey, it’s game night, and I’m gonna drink just one beer or eat one bag of chips.”
As far as a survival food is concerned, jerky’s the right call since it’s packed with just enough protein and fats to keep that engine of yours running. Sure, they’re salty AF and feels like you’re chewing on a rubber band, but it’s amazingly delicious. Since most of you are busy with your jobs and have neither the time nor the mood to replenish your beef jerky stocks, I thought about sharing with you my mouthwatering homemade beef jerky recipe.
It’s super easy to make and, most importantly, it mostly requires ingredients you probably have in your pantry. Why make beef jerky at home when you can always order some online? Because, let’s face it – as cheap as store jerky is, it’s pretty hard to find one that’s exactly the way you like it. Some are chewy, others salty as Hell and some, well, taste like crap.
First, preparing your own beef jerky puts you in full control of the dish, from choosing the beef cuts, all the way to the cooking part. Second, by choosing to cook rather than buy, you can make it as salty or sweet as you like. Last, but not least, beef jerky’s one of those recipes that don’t require an advanced degree in rocket science in order to prepare.
So, without further ado, here’s how to make some delish beef jerky at home.
Ingredients and Utensils
For this recipe, you will need the following:
- Angus beef sirloin. I use around two pounds of beef for this recipe. Once you get it dried, you end up with one large zip-lock bag of beef jerky.
- Worcestershire sauce (three-quarters of a cup).
- Soy sauce (three-quarters of a cup).
- Smoked paprika (one tablespoon).
- Honey (one or two tablespoons).
- Ground black pepper (two teaspoons).
- Hot chili flakes (one or two tablespoons, depending on preference).
- Garlic powder (one teaspoon).
- Onion powder (one teaspoon).
That’s it for the ingredients. As for kitchen utensils, you will need a large bowl to mix your ingredients, an oven tray, baking paper, a pair of scissors, and, of course, a zip-lock bag for the jerky. All done gathering your utensils and all the ingredients? Take your time. I ain’t going anywhere. When you’re ready, here’s how to put everything together.
Preparing mouthwatering beef jerky
Step 1. Take your beef cut out of the bag and wash it thoroughly. Dry with a couple of paper towels or place in a strainer.
Step 2. In a large bowl add your Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, smoked paprika, honey, ground pepper, hot chili flakes, powdered garlic, and powdered onions. Whisk the ingredients using a fork or, well, a whisk.
Step 3. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and place it inside the fridge for half an hour.
Step 4. It’s now time to tend to the meat. Using a very sharp butcher’s knife, cut the meat into thin strips – if it’s easier, make stake-sized bits.
Step 5. Take a big zip-lock bag from the pantry and put the beef inside.
Step 6. Get the bowl out of the fridge and pour over the beef. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator. Leave the meat to soak up all those juices for at least a couple of hours. Ideally, you should leave it overnight. Remember – the longer you marinate your meat, the tastier it will be. I usually keep it in the fridge for one or two days.
Step 7. When you’re ready to cook the meat, preheat the oven to 176 degrees – yup, you’ll need ultra-low heat. The idea is to dry the beef cuts, not to bake it.
Step 8. Take the marinated beef out of the bag.
Step 9. Place the meat on an oven tray covered with baking paper. Use a paper towel to soak the excess marinade.
Step 10. When the oven reached the desired temperature, stick the tray in the oven and cook for 4 to 5 hours. Every hour or so, flip the beef cuts.
Step 11. When they’re done, take them out of the oven, allow the cuts to cool down, and cut them into thin strips using a pair of scissors or a knife. Bag and tag!
Another Way to Prepare Beef Jerky
Don’t go anywhere, because this was just the warm-up. Okay, so you now know how to prepare beef jerky at home. But can you do the same, say during a shit hits the fan situation? Beef jerky is, more or less, the beauty of the best – thought it looks totally unpalatable, it’s actually delicious, nutritious, and, on top of that, it can be made anywhere and with any type of meat.
Now let’s imagine for a moment that you’re lost in the woods and you run out of food. Obviously, you’ve got to do something about it. Now, if you still have your bug out bag with you, whip out a snare and wait. Keep in mind that beef jerky can be made with any kind of meat.
However, if you want your trail snack to contain all the proteins and fats your body needs to keep on going, you would want to stick with red meat or fish. When you’re done with the gutting and butchering parts, here’s what you will need to do in order to prepare jerky.
Step 1. Find a clean spot to set up your working area.
Step 2. Use your survival knife or a very sharp rock to cut the flesh into very thin strips (half a centimeter). Don’t forget to cut across the grain, not with the grain (those muscle fibers will make meat harder to chew).
Step 3. While the meat’s still wet and tender, season it with your condiments of choice. I like to keep stuff like ginger, cumin, sugar, salt, pepper, and chili in small pill bottles. You can also make your own mix which you can use to season the meat. Put a little bit of sugar if you have some in your bug out bag.
Step 4. It’s now time to create some sort of drying rack. Look around for twigs, long stick or branches. If there’s nothing available, you can always hang the meat cuts by a low-lying branch using heavy-duty zip ties. Just be careful to place that meat within eyeshot because it’s bound to attract some unwanted attention (flies, mosquitoes, and, yes, even bears).
(Optional) If you want to a little smokey flavor to your meat, place it over a small campfire. Don’t leave there too long, though. You’ll want to dry your meat, not cook it. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some BBQed game, but it tends to spoil faster.
Step 5. If you manage to improvise a drying rack, flip the meat every couple of hours. Depending on weather conditions, like wind, humidity, and temperature, it can take up to four days for the meat to lose all moisture.
Yes, I know it’s a painstaking process. More so because you’ll need to be on the lookout for critters. On that note, when it’s time to hit the sack, don’t forget to bring the meat inside your tent or improvised shelter. Obviously, you won’t be able to keep an eye out while you’re asleep.
Step 6. After a couple of days have passed, take a look at the meat. You’ll know it’s ready to eat when the meat has a brittle aspect. If you prepare jerky from red meat, the color you’re looking for is a purple-brown. On the other hand, if you’re using white meat, the jerky will turn pink-grey when it’s done.
Step 7. All that remains to be done is to cut the meat into thinner strips and to store it in a zip-lock bag or an airtight container.
Related: How to Use Acorns as Survival Food
Taking all these facts into account, I would have to say that jerky is indeed the ultimate survival food. Given the right storage conditions, a batch of jerky can last for at least a couple of months, if not for a whole year.
Now, as far as the oven-drying version is concerned, I would advise ditching the salt. Yes, I know that salt and jerky is a marriage made in Heaven, but the soy sauce adds and smoky taste to the meat, which means that it doesn’t need extra. Of course, if you’re not a big fan of soy, you can always replace with two tablespoons of rock salt.
I don’t know about you, but I like to add some kick to my jerky. If you want your snack to be spicier, you can add half a teaspoon of Tabasco in addition to the chili flakes. Yes, I know it sounds pretty hardcore, but hey, at least your jerky won’t be bland.
One of my friends told me that it’s also possible to prepare beef jerky using a dehydrator. Remember my powdered eggs recipe? Well, the method’s more or less the same. The only advantage of using a dehydrator instead of a regular oven set on ultra-low heat is that it reduces the cooking time by at least one, maybe two hours. If you have one of those gadgets in the kitchen, you should definitely try it out.
One more thing – the meat itself. Though I highly recommend using sirloin for this recipe since the cut will be, well, chewier, you can use whatever meat you prefer. Just be sure it has the same amount of fat as sirloin. Haven’t tried it yet, but from what I heard, jerky prepared from fish like rainbow trout, tuna or salmon is absolutely divine. Trouble is that it’s very hard to get ahold of a good recipe and most of the stuff on the market looks way too nasty.
So, here’s where I take my love. Hope my little winding has managed to convince you that making your own beef jerky is better than having to go through hundreds of Google pages in order to find the right one. As always, don’t think of cooking as something you need to do – have fun around the kitchen. Play some tunes. Work on your air guitar skills; whatever floats your boat. What do you think about my beef jerky recipe? Hit the comments section and let me know.