How Is Beef Jerky Made? The Handcrafted Process
Beef jerky is one of the most popular and notoriously delicious snacks. But did you know you can learn how to make it yourself? Read on for information on handcrafting beef jerky.
Know What Part of the Animal To Use
Most jerky comes from animal muscle, giving it the protein-filled nutrients and filling texture that people know and love. The muscles used for beef jerky include the top round, bottom round, and pectoral, given their balanced amount of fat, flavor, and texture.
The meat from beef jerky will differ from other meat, such as game jerky, in its taste and nutritional value as a source of protein. It’s important to choose the right cut of meat when making beef jerky because it will make the jerky easier to cook.
Get the Right Slice
Slicing jerky is an important step in the jerky-making process. Your slice of jerky will determine the texture and how the jerky will cook and dry. You’ll want to trim as much fat as possible to get a nice texture that isn’t too moist or dry.
Slicing with the grain of your meat will give your jerky a tougher, chewier texture, making it a great treat for when you need to fill up on food quickly. Cutting against the grain yields a softer jerky that’s easier to bite into. Knowing how you want to cut the meat and what final product you want is an important part of making handcrafted beef jerky, and it will determine the result of future steps in the process.
The flavor is an essential part of jerky and gives it a unique taste that opens up many possibilities for how meat could taste. There are various ways to make your jerky flavorful, but the most general method is seasoning.
You have many options for seasonings, but for jerky, it’s best to use moderate spices, such as black pepper, chili powder, or cumin. Other spices, such as cinnamon, garlic, onion powder, and soy sauce add a unique taste.
Cooking and Drying
This is the last step in making a strip of meat into jerky. Drying is an essential part of making handcrafted jerky that tackles the above parts of the process to make a final product.
You can dry meat in the sun, over a fire, or in a dehydrator. A small amount of fat is necessary to give it flavor before it falls off the meat. On average, beef jerky takes about five hours to dry completely. The jerky should crinkle a little when you bend it and snap back into its flat shape.
Making jerky is a practice that many generations have performed. Knowing how to make jerky by hand is a useful skill that requires knowledge and practice, so use this guide to help you make jerky your way.