Curing, smoking and preserving meats pre-dates refrigeration technology. We owe so many delicacies to this technique – salt cod, prosciutto, salami, bacon, and jerky. Beef jerky has its roots as a ration, dried out so that as little as possible moisture remains. Why? To minimize or eliminate the chance for bacterial growth. To make meat food-safe at room temperature.We make our own beef jerky and the process is fun and simple.
Ingredients - A high quality lean cut of beef is required here. You will notice the difference. Normally you look for some fat marbling in a quality piece of beef, however in this case fat is your enemy as it will render out and make the jerky greasy. We use the inside round cut of Ontario beef for our jerky. As a marinade we use a combination of soy sauce, worcestershire, chili powder and brown sugar.
Procedure - Steaks are cut against the grain as the resultant portion of meat is easier to cut and cooks tenderly. Jerky, on the other hand, must be sliced parallel to the fibrous grain that runs through it. When the jerky finishes drying, the cells holding the fibers together lose their volume. If it were cut like a steak, the resultant product can crumble and even fall apart. Once sliced, the beef is placed in the marinade for 6 hours. An alternative method at this step is a dry cure. Once cured, we dry with paper towel and place on a bare sheet tray into our gas oven overnight with only the pilot lit.
Product - The result is a delicious dry snack, with a much lower sodium content than other commercial jerkies, and no additives, preservatives, hormones or antibiotics. We then put out scale and vacuum sealer to work portioning 40g portions. The yield is approximately 20% of the fresh product by weight.
Try this at home! You don’t need a dehydrator, just your home oven set very low (~120F) and propped open to allow moisture to escape, slowly drying the meat without burning. Depending on when you’ll eat it and on your particular tastes, you can try drying it out less or more. Better yet come grab a bag of ours next time you’re in for a sandwich!