jerky jewel

If you’ve ever tasted homemade jerky, you know it’s hard to stomach that $5-a-bag storebought leather. Still, you may not have known that you can make your own pretty easily at home, in a food dehydrator or even in your oven. Here’s how to make the classic low-calorie, high-protein snack that’ll win over your taste buds without any of those pesky additives and preservatives.

The Basics

You can make jerky out of just about any fibrous, protein-rich food — that means almost all meats, seitan and even coconut. The key to beef jerky is to choose a lean cut like London Broil. If you can, go grass-fed; the less fat, the less likely your jerky will be to go rancid. Ask the butcher to cut it 1/4 inch thick, against the grain. If that’s not an option, chill your meat in the freezer for half an hour, then cut it with a sharp knife. Trim off all the fat you can.

Jerky should be cooked at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, 118 for coconut jerky. If you don’t have a dehydrator, set your oven at its lowest temperature, place the jerky on the rack and stick a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it ajar.

You’ll need a baking rack, oiled with vegetable oil, and a drip pan to place below it.

Beef jerky is done when it’s not brittle, but pulls apart in strings and doesn’t look raw. Coconut jerky should still be chewy in the middle. Seitan is done when you feel like it’s done, about 1.5 hours. For best results, flip the seitan every thirty minutes.

Here are two well-loved preparations to try.

Classic Jerky Recipe

Ingredients

1 pound of meat
1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons of organic dark brown sugar
2 cloves of organic garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes (optional)

Method

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and toss them with your hands so the meat is evenly coated. Place the strips on the rack and put the rack and drip pan in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours. Dehydrate according to the directions above.

Teriyaki Jerky Recipe

Ingredients

1 pound of meat
1/2 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 tablespoons of organic brown sugar
1 organic garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup of low-sodium soy sauce

Method

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the meat. Place the meat, 3 to 4 layers deep, in a flat dish, spooning some of the mixture over each layer. Add the rest of the mixture and let the dish refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours. Dehydrate according to the directions above.

Making coconut jerky? Try this organic coconut jerky recipe.

image: Ryan.Dowd