You will never buy jerky again. We can promise you that.
So, let me explain this to you, in a way that you will understand, without saying too many words, about how my boys have been bragging about the “jerky that my mom made” to anyone willing to listen. Also, I became the cool mom in Mesivta and in camp. I think it might be all connected.
I have a household of boys, in the sense that, even my girls, are not scared to have fleishigs for breakfast. Beef is and will always be better than anything, especially dairy. Staying milchig is not a thing. I’m the only one that does that in this family.
So, when I went to visit my friend Shifra one Friday and her house smelled so amazing, I naturally inquired. She showed me her dehydrator, on her counter, and showed me its contents. I knew right then and there that I needed to learn how to make my own jerky too, just because seeing such magic and not acting upon it would have been…cruel.
Shifra kept saying things like “it’s so easy” and “my kids are obsessed with it.” I listened and took notes.
Ever since that Amazon box with the dehydrator arrived (about a month ago) I believe that I have been through roughly 22 lbs of meat and there is none to show for it since it all got eaten right away. Even my youngest, who is 3, loves it. It’s chewy in a satisfying way, not hard.
It’s delicious because it’s fresh and also, because you can customize it to your liking.
And yes, the dehydrator costs about $85 but think of it, you make your money right back. One batch, and you made your money back. Jerky isn’t cheap, that we know. But when you make it yourself, it becomes affordable. And tasty.
Oh, another cool feature: you can add trays to the dehydrator! True, you will need to add “drying time” but it’s worth it if you’re planning to do big batches.
When making jerky, you need time. Plan time to marinate the meat (overnight and up to 24 hours) and then, the dehydrating part itself can take between 2 ½ to 4 hours depending on the size of the meat.
Start by combining all the marinade ingredients in a resealable bag,
but not the meat just yet.
Combine all ingredients well, making sure it’s all smooth and that the brown sugar is melted.
Add the meat. Don’t worry about mixing sizes. You will divide the meat on the trays by size.
After you try this once you will learn if your family prefers small bites (like candy!) or bigger pieces you bite into.
Seal the bag and make sure marinade covers all of the meat. Use your hands to make sure it gets everywhere.
Place in a bowl or tin to catch any eventual spills and refrigerate at least overnight but preferably for a 24 hour period. This will make sure the meat has a chance to tenderize and absorb taste.
Start from the bottom. Place the tray to catch splatters (the one that looks like a plate). (Note: You don’t need the trays that look like a mesh. Those are for other recipes like dried fruit etc.)
Place the pieces of meat on one layer.
Try to divide the sizes on trays. This way, when the smaller pieces are ready before the bigger pieces you will remove that tray and let the rest cook for longer.
Fill up all the trays and plug in the machine. Set the knob on “jerky,” the highest setting.
Set your timer for 2 ½ – 3 hours and check if done. The jerky won’t change while “chilling,” so taste a piece and decide if it’s dried enough to your liking.
Remove the tray/pieces that are ready and replace the lid to continue drying.
As you can see, this dehydrator can be used even if you are drying only one tray.
Store your jerky in a resealable container for a few days in your fridge, or, vaacum pack for longer shelf life.
We haven’t tested out how long it actually lasts due to the fact that it never survived too long. Sorry about that. If you figure that one out, let us know in comments.
Also, place all the trays in the dishwasher! They come out super clean. (Obviously, do not put the top part, the motor, in the dishwasher. Just wipe it clean. It usually doesn’t get dirty anyway.)
When storing, place a piece of paper towel between layers. (It’s hard to dry it well.)
For our oven beef jerky recipe (softer texture), see this original version and this teriyaki version.
For more beef jerky tips, see this post.
- 2-3 lbs thinly sliced shoulder meat, like pepper steak
- 1½ cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup honey
- ½ cup teriyaki sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp meat tenderizer
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- In a Ziploc bag, combine all marinade ingredients and mix well until brown sugar is dissolved. Add meat and seal bag, making sure marinade covers all parts of the meat. Refrigerate overnight or, preferably, for 24 hours.
- Remove meat and place on dehydrator trays. Group similar sized pieces of meat together. This way, when the smaller pieces are ready before the bigger pieces you will remove that tray and let the rest cook for longer.
- Plug in the machine. Set the knob on “jerky,” the highest setting. Dehydrate for 2 ½ – 3 hours. Remove the tray/pieces that are ready and replace the lid to continue drying.
- Store your jerky in a resealable container for a few days in your fridge, or, vaacum pack for longer shelf life. Jerky can be frozen for months (in a Ziploc bag, any bag or container)
Over the years we still had kids that liked the sticky ones that you get from store bought…