Like marzipan or licorice, beef jerky is one of those luxury foods that you either love or hate. However, the dried meat is definitely healthier compared to the sweets because it contains significantly less sugar and fat, but contains plenty of protein. That's why the snack is also popular with strength athletes. However, the enjoyment is not cheap: buyers of a 70 gram bag shell out around five euros. That's seven cents per gram.
Homemade dried meat, on the other hand, is cheaper. If we assume a kilo price for the meat of around 22 euros, we come to three cents per gram of jerky if we assume a yield of 660 grams of dried meat from one kilo of fresh meat - not including the marinade and dehydrator. Most marinade ingredients can be found in well-stocked kitchens and a dehydrator is not necessary if your regular oven can operate at low temperatures of 70 degrees.
Making beef jerky is incredibly easy. Important: You need beef that is as lean as possible. The meat from the top or bottom shell is particularly suitable for this. Butchers usually use the top shell for roulades, which is why you can simply buy roulades. They are also easier to cut into smaller pieces than a complete piece of the top shell.
Why we don't use fatty meat for beef jerky? Simply because the fat in the dried meat becomes rancid, which doesn't taste particularly appetizing. That's why you should also trim the fat from the meat before marinating it. Speaking of cutting: you shouldn't cut the pieces too small. Drying causes the meat to shrink by around a third.
Therefore, count on around 660 grams of jerky from one kilo of fresh meat. The rest is water that evaporates during preparation. And another tip for cutting: If cut against the grain, the jerky will be tender, but with the grain more firm to the bite. Before we dry the meat, we also want to marinate it. And that takes time. It should sit in the marinade for at least six hours before drying for another six to eight hours.
Enough theory, let’s have fun. We want to produce around 330 grams of dried meat from 500 grams of beef. For that we need:
Cut the meat into thin strips about three to five millimeters thick. Of course, this doesn't apply if you have bought roulades, which are usually five to seven millimeters thick. As a reminder: If you want your jerky to be tender, cut the meat against the grain. For a more al dente jerky, cut it along the grain.
Then it's time for the marinade. Making it is incredibly easy: Mix soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey or sugar, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and, if necessary, chili powder in a bowl and place the meat strips in the marinade. Logical: Each piece should be well covered with marinade. Cover the bowl and let the marinade sit in the fridge for at least six hours.
Once the meat is cooked through, you should preheat the oven or dehydrator to 70 degrees. Now it's time to remove the meat strips from the marinade and let the excess liquid drain off. Then place the strips on a baking sheet or the wire rack of the dehydrator without letting them touch each other.
Important: If you prepare your dried meat in a normal oven, you have to turn it after about two to three hours. There is no need to turn the food in the dehydrator.
After about six hours the dried meat should be ready. Done is relative, as the time varies depending on the thickness of the slices and personal dryness preferences. Most people like the meat to be dark and slightly pliable. If the desired result is not achieved after six hours, you should check the meat every hour. Before eating, we let the beef jerky cool down. Stored in an airtight and dry container in the refrigerator will last the longest.
By the way: A dehydrator is also ideal for making your own dried fruits. And feel free to get creative with the marinade for the meat. In theory all you need is some salt, pepper and a sauce for the marinade. If you like it healthier, you can leave out the sugar or honey. When it comes to spices, there are no limits to your imagination. And if you're wondering why your dried meat has a brownish color rather than the red color of the industrial product, it's because of the salt. Typically, industrial manufacturers use nitrite curing salt in their jerky, whose sodium nitrite ensures the meat retains its red color.
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