✓Zero-carb ✓Paleo ✓Gluten-free ✓Grain-free ✓Dairy-free
Beef Jerky is a great low-carb, Paleo snack with a delicious chewy texture – it gives you something you can get your teeth stuck into when ever you need a bite between meals.
Commercial beef jerky can be purchased in many supermarkets, but they are expensive and often contain undesirable ingredients such as MSG, loads of sugar and hydrolysed vegetable proteins.
Making your own jerky will save you money and taste great with only wholesome ingredients, so you can enjoy this superfood more often.
Stored in a dry place out of sunlight it will keep for weeks, although it tastes so good it’s not likely to last that long!
Ingredients (for a very large batch)
If it’s your first time, you probably want to halve the ingredients below.
- 1.8 kg of fine lean beef (mine was labelled hanger steak) which must be sliced really thin by the butcher (IMPORTANT: VERY THIN!)
- 100ml white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
The mixture of spices used here makes a nice mild flavoured jerk, without being too strong in any one direction. It’s a good mix for your first batch, and after that you can vary it as much as you dare: piri-piri, lemon, cardamom, paprika. You can easily create your very own family special.
It is important to choose a lean cut as fatty joints will not dry as thoroughly nor keep as long.
1. Make sure your butcher cuts the beef into thin strips
Above is our butcher doing a great job of cutting our beef into the thinnest possible slices.
Here they are once we got them home. You can see they are thin, less than 5mm (¼ inch) thick. The length and width is less important, but ours were about 15cm (6 inches) by 6cm (2½ inches).
2. Marinade the beef
Place the strips of beef in a deep bowl and pour over 100ml of white wine vinegar. Make sure there is enough vinegar that you can easily push the meat down into it later, so that everything will be marinated.
The vinegar provides a real tang to the finished jerky.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt…
…and all your other spices. I like ginger, pepper, garlic and chilli. With just ½ tsp of chilli in the whole batch this is very mild, so you can increase this if you like a bit more kick.
NOTE: do not add anything oily to the marinade as it can go rancid. The most stable (and hence long-lasting) jerky is fat-free.
Mix everything thoroughly, then leave it to soak for several hours, or over night.
3. Preparing the marinated beef strips for the oven
To dry off the excess marinade, take a clean tea towel and iron it so it is sterile.
Lift the strips out of the marinade and shake of the excess before placing flat on the tea towel.
Roll up the towel and gently squeeze off more of the marinade.
4. Oven drying the beef jerk
Place a liner on the bottom of your oven to catch drips.
Place the strips carefully on the rack in your oven so that they hang down and the air can get to them. Avoid letting the strips touch, overlapping sections will not dry properly.
To help the moisture escape the door of the oven should be propped open with a towel. A fan oven is helpful, but not essential, as it keeps the air moving.
The oven then needs turning on and setting as low as possible. The lowest ours goes is 50°C (120°F). That works fine.
The jerky will need to be in for 7 to 8 hours to thoroughly dry. We leave ours on overnigh.
5. Taking the Beef Jerky out of the oven
We have a double sized oven, and it filled both racks!
When they come off the rack they are dry, twisty, fibrous and chewy.
To check if they are fully dried, take a piece out and bend it:
It should start to tear, and go white, revealing muscle fibres as in the picture above. If its moisture content is too high it will be flexible and not turn white when bent. In which case put it back in for another hour or two.
The finished Beef Jerky
Here is the finished jerky: Dry, dense, dark concentrated goodness.
They taste delicious and make a great camping snack — light weight and full of protein. Kept dry they don’t go off for ages. Perfect for sharing around a camp fire. You can almost hear the coyote howling in the distance!
Have you made beef jerky? Do you have a favourite spice mix?
Please like and leave a comment below!