I have been making beef jerky for several years. I started back in the early 1990's with a "Ronco" food dehydrator. I can't remember where the recipe I use came from whether it was supplied in the recipe book with the machine, or we acquired it somewhere else. Regardless, it has been a recipe I have been using for a long time, with a few minor adjustments now and then.
I know many people make beef jerky using a jerky press, hamburger and spices. I can't seem to grasp the concept of jerky being made out of hamburger. To me that just seems wrong. I prefer to use sirloin steak cut into strips approximately 1/4" in size.
I no longer have the Ronco. I gave it up to someone that thought they needed it more than I did. I now have a much better dehydrator that I love and use for many things. My husband was very gracious and gave it to me for Christmas one year along with a Cuisinart Mixer. I was a very good girl that year apparently!
As I mentioned, I alter the recipe on occasion. I switch teriyaki sauce for the soy sauce and will sometimes vary it by adding 1 cup of each. Teriyaki will give the jerky a little sweeter taste. You can also add ground pepper to the recipe if you like peppered jerky.
I normally cut up three sirloin steaks at a time for the following recipe. You can cut the recipe back to make less, but once you start making it, you realize how fast the jerky will disappear when your family tastes it!
Beef Jerky Marinate
½ cup liquid smoke
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ pound brown sugar
This recipe makes quite a bit of liquid, so you can cut it in half if you are only doing one steak, or save the extra and place in the freezer for another batch.
Never save the used marinate to use again later. You need to discard it once you have marinated the meat for food safety reasons.
Also, be sure to use a glass bowl with a cover. I use a glass casserole dish. If you use plastic it will absorb the odors of the ingredients. Just make sure to cover the dish you use, even if it is with plastic wrap to contain the odors in your refrigerator while you marinate it.
I have found over time, the longer you marinate the steak, the better the jerky is. I have left it to marinate for as many as 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Once you have marinated the meat, pour it onto a strainer and let all of the marinate drain away. Place the meat strips onto your dehydrator trays once they are no longer dripping. Be sure not to crowd them too much.
This isn’t a project you can start and let the dehydrator run over night. The jerky will become too dry and brittle.
The directions I follow are from the book Making and Using Dried Foods, by Phyllis Hobson.
If you have a dehydrator, this book is a must. It is the most complete and informative dehydrating book I have found. If you don’t have one, the book also includes directions how to dehydrate things using your oven.
These instructions are taken directly from the book.
Dehydrate at 140 degrees for 4 hours. Turn strips and rotate trays. Dry for another 6-8 hours. Well dried jerky should be dark and fibrous looking and brittle enough to splinter when bent in half.
Once the jerky is finished, removed the strips and place on paper towels and blot to remove and fatty oils that may be sitting on the surface. Depending on the fat content of the meat you are using, you may want to dab the strips with a paper towel before rotating them. I always trim the steaks to remove any fat before marinating.
Jerky can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 6 months. If I want to store if for a long period of time I will vacuum seal it and place it in the freezer. If I know we will be eating it right away I place it in a Ziploc baggie.
I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does! I can’t ever seem to be able to save any of it for very long.