How to Make Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is something that most people only know as a tasty, high protein snack that can be picked up at the local convenience store. What most people don't realize is that they can easily make delicious beef jerky at home, with no equipment fancier than an oven and a sharp knife. Not only is homemade beef jerky healthier than commercial beef jerky, which is often laden with preservatives to keep it shelf stable for very long periods of time, but making it at home is also much cheaper than buying it from the store and allows you to completely control what flavor the beef jerky will be. The first step to making homemade beef jerky is to take a very lean cut of beef and trim off all of the fat. It is important to remove as much fat as possible, as fat does not dry and could cause the beef jerky to spoil. Next, cut the beef into extremely thin strips. The thinner the beef is sliced the more quickly it will dry, which is important to guarantee that the beef jerky will not develop bacteria during the drying process. Partially freezing the beef before slicing it can make it much easier to cut. The next step is to marinate the meat with the recipe of your choice. Two popular marinades for beef jerky are teriyaki and barbecue, and some popular ingredients are brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic, liquid smoke and other spices. Many cooks also prefer to dip the sliced beef in a salt and spice rub after marinating, both to add flavor and texture and to facilitate the drying process, as salt helps to draw more moisture out of the meat. After the meat is well seasoned, preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Once the oven has reached 160 degrees, take a wire rack and place it on a regular baking sheet, then arrange the strips of beef onto the wire rack so that they are evenly spaced. The rack allows the hot air to hit every side of the meat, ensuring that it dries quickly and evenly, while the baking sheet will catch any drippings. Allow the beef to dry for between two and six hours. When thoroughly dried the beef jerky should be dry and stiff, but not brittle. Homemade beef jerky can be kept refrigerated for several weeks.  

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