In this blog, we’re going to take you through, step-by-step, showing you how to make beef jerky. We’ll cover the steps, the recipe, and all of the items you’ll need on hand. Nobody has ever been able to eat a whole cow in one sitting but to survive, it’s essential to preserve as much of the meat as possible for consumption.
It seems like everyone I know has their own jerky recipe, but Shawn assures me his is the ultimate jerky recipe. You don’t need a fancy dehydrator to make it.
WHAT YOU NEED
I’ll address optional ingredients in a moment, but Siracha is a great fermented pepper sauce to use for this. For my recipe, you will need two or more pounds of beef (I used top round and flank steak), a bowl to marinate the meat, a measuring cup, 3/4 cup soy sauce, one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, one teaspoon smoked paprika, one tablespoon brown sugar, one teaspoon or more ground pepper, one teaspoon garlic powder, one teaspoon onion powder, one teaspoon liquid smoke.
Optional other ingredients include toasted sesame oil, hot pepper flakes or hot pepper powder, 1/4 cup pineapple juice, two teaspoons ginger, Siracha sauce to taste. If you have a particular preference in taste, feel free to add an optional ingredient. I will add some sesame oil, pineapple juice, and chili paste to mine at the end of the basic recipe to make mine just a little more Pacific Island style.
THE QUICK RECIPE
That’s the basic recipe. Now here is everything else you need to know to be successful at it…
You can use any cut of meat if you practice proper safety measures, but using pork or chicken requires special safety measures too lengthy for me to address here. Chicken, for instance, needs to be cooked or smoked before drying to prevent salmonella. Pork must be treated to avoid Trichinosis. I have even had rattlesnake and alligator jerky. If you do meat other than beef or bison, which is the easiest, read up on it to address the safety concerns. Venison makes an incredible, gamey but lean jerky, but urban preppers can’t always get their hands on affordable venison. I use beef for this jerky because almost everyone can find a cheap piece of beef. You can use multiple different cuts of beef, from prime rib to flank steak. I prefer flank steak. The key to cutting the meat is to trim the fat then cut the meat against the grain. This breaks down the stringy tendrils and helps to make your jerky not so chewy. If you’d like to know more about trimming the fat, consult my video on creating tallow. There I demonstrate trimming the fat on several different cuts of meat. My preferred cut for jerky is flank steak like you would use for a good carne asada. Which was once a cheap cut of meat that nobody ate, as were most barbeque meats. Somewhere along the way, people realized how good it was when properly marinated and prepared, and the price went up accordingly.
A super lean cut of meat is considered by many to be the most favorable for jerky. Beef eye of round, bottom round, and top round are all excellent cuts of meat to convert to jerky. I shop around for the best-looking cut of meat at the most affordable price. Because you’ll be taking all the moisture out of it and flavoring it, the most expensive cut of meat or the cheapest cut of meat, it won’t matter. Typically, the only things that separate the two are the amount of work your butcher has to do and the amount of fat on the cut. As long as you cut the meat against the grain and into strips, your meat will be fine.
The second part of ultimate jerky is the marinade. You will want a little salt in your marinade, like soy sauce, as this will provide an extra preservative quality. If you don’t want to use soy sauce or are allergic to soy, you can create a brine of 2 cups water and 2 Tbsp salt. This will be high enough to dull bacteria growth during the dehydration process and increase the shelf-life of your jerky.
When it comes to the marinade, however, the sky is the limit. I have seen all kinds of recipes, including chili paste, cracked pepper, teriyaki, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, mango juice, liquid hickory smoke, brown sugar, honey, chili pepper flakes, and a thousand other things you can only imagine. There are so many recipes. The addition of a bit of juice provides flavor and lends some citric acid to tenderize and preserve the meat. I keep this recipe simple, straightforward, and easy to reproduce and pass down as your own or enhance however you would like.
THE WHOLE RECIPE
Cut the meat against the grain into 1/4 inch strips. Start by determining the grain. That’s going to be the direction the lines flow in the meat. You will cut against these lines. My preferred sharp knife for this is what is called a boning knife. This is particularly useful if, as the name implies, you need to free a bone from the meat with the knife. Depending upon the sharpness of the knife and the toughness of the meat, you may want to use a slicing knife or a Santoku. Don’t use a serrated knife, as you want to avoid ripping the fibers. The cleaner the cut, the better. If there is a little fat on the meat, it isn’t a concern. The fat puts some people off on the jerky, but there are whole cultures that turn the fat into jerky separately. A little fat isn’t bad, but some people are put off by it. Fat in your jerky will decrease shelf-life; however, I have never made even a large batch of jerky that lasted more than a week or two.
When all the slices are cut, place them in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup soy sauce, one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, one teaspoon smoked paprika, one tablespoon brown sugar, one teaspoon ground pepper, one teaspoon garlic powder, one teaspoon onion powder, one teaspoon liquid smoke. Add any additional ingredients of your choice but remember, a little goes a long way. Some flavors will intensify with drying. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
Stir again with hands and place jerky strips on dehydrator trays or parchment paper on cookie sheets. Use the lowest setting on your oven or the recommended dehydrator settings. Test your jerky for moisture and taste every few hours for doneness. There should be no liquid moisture coming out of your jerky when you bend it at a 90-degree angle. If it cracks or breaks, it is overdone. Remove it immediately. The dehydration process will take between 4 and 12 hours, depending upon the dehydration method you are using and the thickness of your cuts. I was most satisfied with my simple countertop dehydrator. The oven version was a little too dry in places, and a little more uneven overall.
You can store your jerky in a zip lock baggy, jar, or vacuum-sealed bag. Obviously, the more moisture and oxygen you keep away from it, the longer it will last. When properly stored in a vacuum-sealed package in a cool, dark spot, beef jerky can last up to 2 years maybe longer. Mine never lasts more than a few days because I devour it.
The sodium and the dehydration preserve the meat and give jerky its unique texture and flavor. Knowing how to make a batch of jerky is critical to preserving meat after a disaster. If you don’t have electricity, you can repurpose window screens and rely upon the sun, but you will want to keep the flies off the meat with the addition of a little smoke-producing fire. Your survival depends on having a stable high protein food source, and beef jerky has 9 grams of protein per ounce along with salts and fats. Knowing how to make jerky will enhance your survival skills. As I said, it seems like everyone has a recipe for jerky, so feel free to post yours in the comments below or tell me how your batch turned out based on my recipe. Even if you never need jerky in a survival situation, that homemade batch of jerky will win some new friends on the hiking trails. So, make a batch today and enjoy. Here’s that recipe again:
City Prepping’s Ultimate Jerky Recipe
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup soy sauce
Bowl to marinate the meat
2 pounds beef (top round flank steak)