Homemade Beef Jerky

homemade beef jerky

We are huge beef jerky fans in my house.  My daughter loves it!  But I hate spending a fortune for it and her eating the entire bag in one sitting.  I’m glad that she chose beef jerky over candy, but man, it’s an expensive snack.  Am I right?

I remember growing up and my Dad making smoked salmon.  What a treat that was.  He would give my Grampa a shoebox full at Christmas time and we would all crowd around him begging him for pieces.  Smoking salmon is a little intimidating for me but I started to wonder if I could make my own beef jerky.  I can do that, right?  I had my doubts but I figured it didn’t hurt to try.

A friend loaned me her food dehydrator.  Who knew it would be such a great little thing.  Now I want one!  And not just because we dried about a hundred pounds of fruit this summer.  But because we made this amazing beef jerky.  And it was much easier than I thought it would be.

The first step is to find a good marinade.  You can find a ton of them on the internet that take a bunch of ingredients.  But I absolutely love this marinade:

Jack Daniels Marinade in a bag

It delicious and so easy.  You just open the bag and put your meat in.  Ziplock it closed, mix it up a little and let it sit in your fridge.  If I’m grilling steaks, I marinade the meat for a couple of hours.  But for beef jerky, the longer the better!  My first batch I let it marinade it for 48 hours.  It was delicious.  The second batch I got a little impatient and only let it marinade it for 24 hours. Not long enough.   The third batch, 72 hours and oh man, fantastic!

I cut the steak (you can use whatever cut of meat you want.  But make sure it’s lean and not fatty!)

When you are done letting it marinade, dump the meat into a strainer.  Don’t rinse it, just let the majority of the sauce drip off.  Lay the meat on paper towels and gently pat to remove the excess marinade.  Lay meat on the racks of the food dehydrator.

beef jerky in food dehydrator

Turn on the dehydrator and let it do it’s magic.  The drying time depends on how thick you cut the meat and how much marinade you leave on it.  You want it to be kind of dry but not crunchy!  We did ours for about 4 hours.  After about 3 hours I checked it often.   I like it a little drier than my daughter does so I take some out and then dry the rest a little longer.

homemade beef jerky

Store in a ziplock bad in the fridge.  You can also freeze it if you want or seal it in a Food Saver.  It will last for quite awhile!  If it will last that long.  We made 6 batches and devoured it all.

homemade beef jerky

What do you think?  Have you ever made beef jerky?  If so, do you have a marinade that you love?  Any tips you can give me?

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