I am in love with beef jerky, but I rarely buy it because store-bought beef jerky is often too salty, contains unnatural ingredients, and is very expensive. So I purchased a Ronco food dehydrator to make my own. Everyone that’s tried my homemade beef jerky has liked it. I’ve even had people say that they like it more than store bought beef jerky. You can control the salt and sugar content, the spiciness, and even the texture when you make it yourself. This makes a great snack for hiking, camping, and days on the beach. For those of you with pets, use the food dehydrator to make healthy treats using unseasoned liver, gizzards, thinly sliced chicken, etc. (See other healthy dog treat recipes here.)
Homemade Beef Jerky (A Food Dehydrator Recipe)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of boneless and lean rare beef trimmed of all fat (Note: I prefer to use tender cuts of meat such as top sirloin, prime rib, tenderloin, or filet mignon. Also note that it is important to remove the fat because it has an unpleasant texture after dehydration.)
2 to 3 tbsp soy sauce (Note: My family prefers low sodium beef jerky, so if you’d like more flavour, add a pinch or two of sea salt.)
1 or 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
pinch (or more to taste) of granulated white sugar
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of ground black pepper
pinch (or more to taste) of cayenne pepper or chili powder (optional)
Note: You could use whatever seasonings that you like. For example, try liquid smoke, paprika, cumin, or curry powder, or try five spice powder for a subtle Asian flavour, or add brown sugar for a sweeter jerky. You could also use a different type of meat, i.e. venison, kangaroo, caribou, etc. If you use chicken, duck, rabbit or pork, the jerky needs to be cooked all the way through prior to ingestion.
Slice the meat thinly and evenly with a large, sharp knife. If you place the meat in the freezer until it starts to freeze, it will be easier to slice thinly. In a large bowl, mix the sliced beef with all of the other ingredients and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Then place the pieces of meat onto the trays of the food dehydrator. Make sure that the pieces of beef are completely flat and spread out and that none of the pieces are overlapping. Plug the food dehydrator in and allow the meat to dehydrate for approximately 18 to 24 hours (depending on the thickness of your meat and your preference in texture). During that time, rearrange the order of the trays three or four times so the low temperature “cooking” will be even. The longer you dehydrate the meat, the tougher and crispier (if your meat is sliced very thinly) it will be. I prefer a chewier texture. The meat will be done when it is dried and darkened on the outside and cooked through. It’s okay if it’s a little bit pink on the inside as long as it is not rare. This may be the case if the meat was cut too thickly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.