Ready to make your own homemade jerky? Get the lowdown on everything you need to know for choosing the best cuts of beef you need for your own brand of delicious jerky.
Great homemade jerky is one of the purest homemade snacks out there. Tough, chewy and delicious, one you get on the jerky train then it's hard to get off it. It's what BBQ smoking was made for.
Despite this, not a lot of people make their own at home. One of the first problems a lot of people encounter is deciding on what cut of beef to choose.
Here's my breakdown of the four best beef cuts for jerky, and how each one might be the right choice for you.
Shank refers to the upper sections of the legs. They are located below the round sections and the brisket. Mostly, meat located in the shank region is used to make traditional stews. This cut is effective for making jerky since it contains no fat.
2. Beef round
Beef round is one of the commonly used cuts to make beef jerky. The beef round cut can be categorized into two. That is the top round and bottom round. Whether top or bottom, they both are located in the rear leg.
There is one major reason why beef round is good for jerky; as you can see, the beef round is located on the rear leg of the cow which means it has less fat due to its well-worked muscles. This is even evident when you to buy one. However, you may find some sinew and fat on the outer side of the cut. You will be required to remove them before you start making the jerky. Also, the grain found on the round is easily visible and you can remove it without struggling for a chewier and tenderer jerky.
Sirloin just had to make it to this list. It defines a lot when it comes to making jerky. It is commonly used and it’s good for making jerky since it so tender – tender is one of the most considered aspects when it comes to making a good jerky. Besides, the Sirloin has little fat marbling, this is also an important aspect to look at whenever you go for beef for jerky. However, sirloin is more expensive than the round cut but it ensures you craft' the best jerky.
4. Flank steak
This is the cut obtained from the lower chest of the cow or abdominal region. It is good for making jerky since it has low-fat content. If you would like to remove the grain or just let it there for a tougher jerky it's still easy since the grain is easily visible. Due to the shape of its muscle, flank is easy to work on in terms of slicing.
This depends on your preferences but the most trusted cut that is used by many people to make beef jerky is the Flank steak. However, this cut is quite expensive and you will be required to opt for other options if you are not willing to spend much money on the jerky. The selected cut shouldn’t be containing much of fat since it can easily ruin your jerky.
How to make beef jerky
First you will need to freeze the beef and cut it into thin strips. Freezing is aimed at making the process of cutting the meat into thin strips be easy. Just freeze it for not more than 45 minutes. Take it for slicing into thin strips next, you have to look for the grain of the beef slice. The thickness of your slices can vary. However, the difference shouldn’t be too pronounced, try to make them have a closer thickness.
How to marinade beef pieces for jerky
This is the step where you will be required to ensure that the slices are free from any chemicals that may affect your jerky. You can use low sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos or Worcestershire sauce. Again, it is this stage where you can add your favorite spices and herbs. Thereafter, allow the beef to sit in the marinade for about 45 minutes or even a whole day – there is no harm.
How to smoke beef jerky
If you want good results, take a wire rack and place it on top of a baking sheet. Take the properly cut beef strips and place them on the rack. The strips will dry faster because of the dripping of its juice down the pan.
Start baking for 3 to 4 hours with the oven turned to around 1750 Fahrenheit. However, the time stated here may vary according to the type and effectiveness of the oven used. For example, if you are using a conventional oven then, you can do the baking within 2 to 3 hours.
Don’t bake and forget to check the progress of your jerky. It should be noted that the drier the jerky, the more convenient it would be in terms of storage and preservation. Your jerky should be able to stay for more than a week under room temperatures without going bad. That doesn't mean you leave the jerky in the oven for too long. Doing this will ruin it since it will turn into tough crackers.
If you hit the 3-hour mark, you can take a strip of your jerky from the oven and taste it. When tasting, note some aspects like the texture of the jerky. If it feels too soft or quite meaty, return it into the oven. If you feel its texture suits you then, you can remove the remaining jerky from the oven.
How to store beef jerky
Look for a good airtight container and store your jerky there. If it passed through the aforementioned steps effectively, it can be stored in the airtight container for about weeks or more. There is always an alternative, storing it in an airtight container is just one of the ways, through traditional but effective and recommended, you can store it in the refrigerator. However, storing it in the refrigerator should be done if you think you made your jerky from a too much fat cut or maybe you under-baked it.
Now, that's all you need to do to achieve good jerky. A DIY jerky is much better than buying one to enjoy.
How to slice meat for jerky
This shouldn’t be a complex process and in a nutshell, these are the simple steps you need to follow to get you on the right lane.
1. Ensure the meat is slightly frozen
2. Slice into one-quarter-inch-thick strips. This can be trickier than it sounds, so take care when slicing
3. After cutting the strips, transfer the beef to a refrigerator to wait until you be ready to start making the jerky