Exciting news folks – a new post by the babbling botanist is on about.com! This past week I was asked by Sean Timberlake, the food preservation expert at about.com, to write a guest post for the site. I decided to discuss how to safely make homemade beef jerky, and the recipe is now available, so go check it out! It’s a delicious and easy homemade snack. Shortly I’ll be posting a slightly longer version here (with more pictures of the steps mostly) and a few additional tips, and I’ll also be posting the ground meat version shortly for those who prefer jerky from ground meat. So stay tuned for that, but in the meantime go check out my post on about.com.
Knowing that I got a dehydrator for my birthday, my good pal Kiki got me the jerky gun to go along with it! I finally tried it out last week and am pretty happy with the results. I just did about a pound of ground beef to try it out, which is about what the gun will hold at a time.
For this first endeavour I used the spice and cure packets that came with the gun since it came with 4 packets, but in the future I’d really like to try my own recipes. I don’t like that there is really no list of ingredients on the packets. I will report back with delicious recipes in the future! This is tasty trust me, just maybe not the best for you.
Here’s how I made it. Mix one pound of lean ground beef (93% lean or more) with one cure packet and one flavour packet. Add a little extra cayenne for spice if you desire (you DO desire it!)
Mix it up well. It smelled so good I wanted to eat it all raw! Eww, don’t be tempted.
Fill the meat into the jerky gun.
Attach the end piece. I picked the one that makes 2 smaller strips.
Squirt strips out onto the dehydrator tray! BAM it’s that easy!
Now, to ensure your jerky is safe from bacteria, you have two options. The first would occur here – precooking the meat. Place the meat on a baking sheet instead of directly on the trays, and cook in a preheated oven at 325F until they reach an internal temperature of 160F. Use a thin tipped thermometer to check the temperature. Then finish on the dehydrator. Option 2 is what I did, which is why the strips are going on the dehydrator raw. Option 2 is post drying heating. Once the jerky is done, immediately place them in the oven, preheated to 275F, and cook for 10 minutes. Both options work fine, you choose which you prefer.
Turn the dehydrator on the the highest setting, 160F / 71C. Preheat it for 15-30 minutes.
After about an hour or so it is starting to dry but the fat is pooling on it, so pat them dry with a paper towel. Do this a few times, every hour or so. It’s also nice to flip them once, I think I did it after about 2 hours.
When they are done, remove to a paper towel and leave them for a couple hours wrapped in paper towel if they still have any fat droplets. They shouldn’t really though if you had lean meat. You can tell they are done by removing a piece and letting it cool a bit. Try to bend it in half, and if it won’t break at all it’s not ready. If it splits but doesn’t snap you are probably good to go. You don’t want to cook until it snaps in half, that’s over done. For me with only one pound of beef on 4 trays it took about 5 hours to be satisfactorily done. Don’t overcook it, especially if you still need to do the 10 minutes post drying heating.
Mmmm jerky. “Condition” your jerky by loosely packing it and shaking the container every couple days. This just helps redistribute moisture from moister ones to drier ones. If you see condensation forming, they are under done. Then store! I like to store it in the fridge just so it keeps longer but it will keep 2 weeks unrefrigerated. Plus it honestly probably will never last long enough to go bad! Make a big batch just before a camping trip! nom nom nom!
*This post contains affiliate links. Check out the “About the Blogger” page for more information.