DIY Jerky

Francesco Duffy
Jun 19 · 3 min read

Recently I mentioned how I get my own jerky curing salts and seasoning online to dry out my own meats, and I really wasn’t exaggerating when I said that seeing those shipping boxes on my front porch made me super excited. Once they had arrived, I knew it was time to start the jerky process.

As a bit of a background, I grew up making jerky with my parents about once or twice a year with their food dehydrator. While I sort of knew the process when younger, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began making my own with their very same dehydrator.

So, let’s dive into the process.

Step 1: The meat

This is where a lot of flavor and consistency happens, solely because of the cut of meat. Any round cut will do, from top round to bottom round and rump roast as well. Basically, thicker cuts of meat like this make it easy to cut thin strips for drying out. I’m sure you can make jerky with any cut of meat, but these have a great portion of fat to lean meat while also being easier to slice.

From there, I throw the logs of meat in the freezer to get harder. While cutting it as a pure block is impossible, having it somewhat frozen makes slicing it thinner a much easier process. The thing to remember is that you’ll be cutting against the grain of the meat when slicing off pieces. From there, make them as wide or thin as you want for the actual strips. But when slicing off the block of meat, you’ll want to keep it to a quarter inch thick or less.

Step 2: Curing.

There are all sorts of jerky seasonings out there, and while I won’t reveal my preferred brand, I will say that I’ve never had a bad one when making my own. You’ll want to remember that salt is what cures the jerky, though, so adding an equivalent amount of salt to every measurement of seasoning is preferred. Basically, all you’ll be doing is putting the strips of meat in water with salt and letting it set in your fridge overnight. Don’t forget to put lids on your tupperware while it sits to avoid any contamination.

Step 3: Dehydrating.

This is the last step. Having a good dehydrator is key, but even if yours is lower end or old, so long as it works, that’s all that matters. It’ll take about 8 to 12 hours for the strips of meat to dry out depending on settings and how dry you want your meat, so check it every hour or so once you’ve had them on for 8 hours. Again, this is up to your preferences. Me? I prefer my jerky quite dry and brittle, but I’ve known others to like theirs with a little bit more chew.

Once you’re done, you can divvy it out to friends and family, throw them in some shipping boxes and send them along to long distance acquaintances, sell it to others, or eat it all for yourself!