With a grain-free diet, jerky is a must have. But store bought jerky is not only pricey, it’s often made with questionable meat and loaded with sugar, salt and soy. Making jerky at home is super easy and allows for variety you can’t buy. This last batch I made – sweetened with pineapple juice – is amazingly delicious and makes a perfect clean snack. Best of all, we can buy our jerky meat from a favorite local, exclusively grass-fed cattle ranch.
You can easily dehydrate jerky in your oven, but if you have a dehydrator that goes up to 165° you can use that as well.
This recipe uses the bare minimum of salt, 1 tsp per lb of meat. This is considered “unsalted” jerky and does not keep as long as “salted” or brined jerky. It’s recommended that this jerky be refrigerated and used within two weeks (I’ll bet you’ll finish it within a few days!). The first time I made jerky, I went with a standard recipe that called for around 1 tbsp of salt per lb. It was terribly salty and pretty inedible. I ended up soaking the meat and dehydrating it again. If your jerky experiment goes awry for any reason, try adding the meat to a stew if you can.
Check out the photo process and a complete printable recipe at the bottom:
- lean cut beef (top round roasts work well)
- For each pound of meat:
- 1tsp salt
- 1 clove garlic or ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- 2 sage leaves
- ¼tsp thyme leaves
- ⅛tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 C pineapple juice
- Freeze your meat for a few hours, this makes it much easier to cut. Slice ¼” thin. Cut against the grain of the meat for more tender jerky, with the grain for traditional “tough” jerky. Cut away all fat and ligaments. Fat spoils more easily than meat.
- Mince fresh herbs and garlic. Blend all spices into pineapple juice in a container big enough for your meat and marinade.
- Add meat strips to marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
- If using an oven to dehydrate, line the bottom with tin foil. If you don’t, the juices dripping off the meat will make a huge, smoky mess.
- Drain meat and lay strip on oven or dehydrator racks. Leave space between pieces to allow air circulation.
- Dehydrate at 165° in your dehydrator or your oven’s lowest setting (usually 170°-180°). Keep your oven door propped open with a fork to allow moisture to escape.
- About halfway through cooking, flip your jerky (2-3 hours in).
- Dehydration times vary depending on climate, but it should take about 6 hours. Test jerky by bending it. If it snaps, but the center stays connected, then it’s ready. If it bends without snapping, it needs more time. If it break in two, you have fossilized your meat.
- When finished, blot with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Refrigerate in airtight containers. Eat within two weeks.