Beef Jerky is a great way to preserve meat and with this method, you can save money and take control of the ingredients. The hands-on part of the process is lots of fun and I like that there is much less plastic packaging going into the environment.
- I cut the meat with and against the grain to get a variety of dryness, chewiness and flavour. Similar to the grain in a piece of wood, a cut of meat has a grain of muscle fibres. Cutting along the grain gives you long stings of muscle fibre and leads to chewier meat.
- When preserving food, it is key that you obey good food hygiene and you use enough of your preservative to stop bacteria growth. In this case salt and vinegar.
- I always try a little bit of whatever I am preserving the day before I let anyone else eat it to make sure it is safe.
You will be:
- Preparing the meat
- Making the marinade
- Drying the meat
You will need:
- ~1,8kg silverside (also known as corned beef)
- 2 Tbsp black peppercorns
- 1.5 Tbsp coriander (cilantro) seeds
- 0.5 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 80ml balsamic vinegar
- A dash of red wine vinegar (optional)
- 1 chef’s knife
- 1 chopping board
- 1 fork for mixing
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 dry spice mixer or mortar and pestle
- 1 deep dish for marinading overnight
- 1 dehydrator
- 1 container for storing the jerky in the fridge
Preparing the meat
- Buy some silverside from your favourite butcher. It is ideal for beef jerky as it is already salted.
- Then cut each slice into 2cm wide strips. Leave the odd bit of fat on as it will improve the jerky’s taste. Cut the meat with and against the grain to get a variety of dryness, chewiness and flavours.
- Stack the strips as you go into the deep dish.
Making the marinade
- Mill or crush all of the spices.
- Add them and the vinegar/s to the mixing bowl and give it a quick stir.
- Stack the beef strips in the deep dish adding marinade as you go to get an even coverage of the spices.
- You can top the liquid up with more vinegar or a bit of water so that all of the meat is in contact with the marinade.
- Refrigerate overnight or as close to that if pressed for time. A minimum of two hours is advised.
Drying the meat
- Bust out your dehydrator.
- Arrange the marinated meat on each tray with lots of gaps between them.
- I put the dehydrator on low and let it run for 24 hours. Drying times will vary depending on your dehydrator, the dryness of the end product you want and the time of year.
- Rotate the trays three or four times during the drying process.
- Inspect one of the larger pieces to make sure the jerky is done.
Store the product unsealed in the fridge, as this not only prolongs the life of the product but also continues the drying process. I then take out what I am going to eat on any given day and chuck them in a paper bag for transport.
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