Monday, November 26, 2012

Grass-Fed Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is one of those foods that just hits the spot when you're working hard and need a quick boost of energy. It's also super dense and you can put it in your pocket when you start hiking for a quick snack later. I have honed my jerky-making technique over the years, and it would be my pleasure to pass on what I know to you.

  • First, and maybe most importantly, marinate for 48 hours if possible! I have found that it really infuses the flavor of the marinade a lot better, and makes for a softer jerky, too. 
  • Second, don't cut the strips too thin (unless you like crispy jerky). About a solid quarter inch makes a good strip. 
  • Third, find a good source of cheap, 100% grass-fed meat if you can. There was a place in Utah I used to get perfect London Broils from for about $5.99 a pound, and I was sad when I moved away, but then I found a similar deal in Eugene! If you live in Eugene, hit up Bartel's Farm retail store off of Bertelsen Rd. 
  • Fourth, if you have little slabs of fat on your piece of meat, trim them off, but still throw them in the marinade, and dehydrate them. They won't keep well, so don't store them with the rest of your jerky, but eat them quickly (especially delicious warm from the dehydrator!). 


My two favorite recipes:

Maple Sage Jerky

Low-Carb Whole30 Compliant Jerky


Simple Jerky

This jerky seems really boring, but properly salted it is actually very good and almost a little too addictive! The key is a lot of high quality sea salt. The first time I tried it I didn't salt it enough and it basically just tasted like dried meat. The next time I put so much on that I thought I was over salting it, and it turned out perfect! I don't know how to quantify the amount because I didn't measure it, so you might have to do some experimenting on your own. This is the easiest, fastest method, and requires no marination time, and also is diet-friendly for almost all elimination diets because it's just meat, salt, and pepper. 

1 lb. very lean round steak or London Broil (100% grass-fed)
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Cut out all visible fat (you can save it for use elsewhere).
Slice the meat into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
Lay the strips on the dehydrator trays.
Liberally salt and pepper the strips, then flip them all the salt and pepper the other side.
Dry in the dehydrator for about 6 hours at 155 degrees (F). Check them after 6 hours, and if still moist and raw-seeming in the center, add an hour or two at a time until they're dried.
When cool, store in Ziploc bags in the refrigerator or freezer* until your trip.

Spicy Jerky

1 lb. very lean round steak or London Broil (100% grass-fed)
3 TB gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos
1 TB chili powder
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB white wine (optional - I like it with, my partner likes it without)

Cut out all visible fat (you can save it for use elsewhere).
Slice the meat into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
Mix the other ingredients together in a large shallow baking dish.
Add the meat strips and stir to coat.
Marinate for 24-48 hours.
Oil the mesh dehydrator trays and lay the strips directly on the trays.
Dehydrate for 6 hours at 155 F. Check them after 6 hours, and if still moist and raw-seeming in the center, add an hour or two at a time until they're dried.
When cool, store in Ziploc bags in the refrigerator or freezer* until your trip.

*Although some jerkys from the store can last long periods of time outside of the fridge, they most likely have some preservative added. We tried storing some of this homemade jerky unrefrigerated for a month and it grew mold. It will be fine for the length of your trip, but any extended storage time should probably be spent in the fridge or freezer. We also like to add silica packets (that I collect and save from my pill bottles) which helps keep moisture down.

Maple-Sage Jerky in the making.
Here are some links to other ones that sound great, although I haven't personally tried any of them yet:

Paleo-Friendly Beef Jerky on Brian's Backpacking Blog
Beef Jerky on The Food Lover's Kitchen
A Really Tasty Beef Jerky on Jen's Gone Paleo

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