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**This post has been entered in Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom!**

Jerky!

This is a really great snack for us on our new diet. But when you buy it, it’s expensive, made from factory-farmed meat (often, not always…but if not it’s even more expensive!), and can contain sodium nitrite. No thanks!

I figured I could make my own jerky. How hard can it be? I looked up a bunch of recipes and unfortunately didn’t find the step-by-step instructions that I really wanted. So I decided to just plunge in.

First, I took a grass-fed chuck roast that weighed about 2.5 lbs. It’s important that it’s as trimmed of fat as possible, because the fat turns to gristle that is impossible to eat once dried. It’s hard to trim it off, so find a piece that’s pretty fat-free already if you can.

Freeze the piece of meat until it’s mostly solid, but still slightly soft. It will be easier to cut this way because it will hold its shape (instead of just mashing and sliding under the knife). I didn’t do this the first few times and it was really annoying.

Take your meat and slice off all the fat that you can. Then start slicing the meat into very, very thin slices. Less than 1/4″ thick, 1/8″ is better if you can manage. If it’s thicker, it will still work, but try to do it thinly. Once all the meat is sliced, you need to put it into a marinade. Here is my basic marinade:

Ingredients:
Juice of one lime
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. sea salt
Water to cover

Put the meat in a large bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Add just enough water to cover the meat. Put a piece of foil over the bowl and refrigerate. I’ve left it just a couple hours, and I’ve left it overnight. It doesn’t seem to make a difference. You’ll notice that the blood will seep out of the meat, and the marinade will become dark red, while the meat turns grayish. This is normal.

Once the meat is done marinating, you will need a dehydrator to dry them out. I have heard that you can use an oven on low (170 degrees), but I haven’t tried that and can’t guarantee it. I use my Excalibur Dehydrator. Lay the strips out on the trays and then put them into the dehydrator. Turn it on to 155 (the highest setting) and leave it for 3 – 4 hours, checking until it is completely dry. If it’s still squishy, bacteria could grow. If you need to leave it longer (I did a batch overnight), turn the dehydrator down to 125 and go ahead and leave it overnight. Just be sure to check for dryness.

Then, your jerky is done! Store in an air-tight container and eat whenever the mood strikes! Full of protein and very yummy.

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This is the writings of:

Kate is wife to Ben and mommy to Bekah (5), Daniel (4), Jacob (2), and Nathan (born March 2013). She is passionate about God, health, and food. She has written 7 cookbooks and a book entitled A Practical Guide to Children's Health. When she's not blogging, she's in the kitchen, sewing, or homeschooling her children. You can also find her as a contributor at Keeper of the Home.

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7 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness is that dehydrator expensive! How much food will you need to dehydrate before you recoup the cost?

    Reply

  2. what an awesome idea! cant wait to try it..

    Reply

  3. Anonymous,

    We actually got it for about $180, not as much. I haven't figured out how much we've "gotten out of it" yet. But I figure long-term it'll be worth it because I've already used it several times.

    Reply

  4. I haven't tried making jerky, but I have dried strawberries to put into oatmeal, candied fruits (mangoes were yummy), and a healthier fruit roll-up. The roll-up was easy – put a bunch of fruit into a blender with a bit of honey. Cover the dehydrator tray with plastic wrap or freezer paper (cut out the hole in the middle), and pour the fruit mixture onto it. Dry until it's hard (should be sticky-feeling), then let cool before removing it from the tray. The humidity in the air will cause it to soften and be a sticky consistency just like the fruit candy it's named after.

    Reply

  5. If you look at the dehydrator as a mini oven, then it is cheap. You can cook yogurt in it, dry foods, make jerkey, crispy nuts – all at a lower temp than your oven will do it at. Great investment. Susan

    Reply

  6. Great post! I've made a couple batches in our dehydrator and it took a couple days as mine doesn't have a fan. I learned to cut off the fat after the first batch – yuck! Now, it tastes wonderful. I'm looking forward to trying your marinate recipe. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    Reply

  7. Subbing ;) This is just what I was looking for. I think jerky is a must if meat is one of the few things you can eat do to other food restrictions/allergies. Happy coincidence that we found each other this evening :) Yay!

    Reply

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