Jerky is the food of adventurers, the pub snack of champions and a godsend to Atkins dieters. It’s a popular request amongst astronauts going on space missions – and who can blame them? Not only is jerky packed with protein, but the beef takes on the flavour of whatever it’s marinated in before it’s dried, making it a varied, and utterly delicious snack.
We wanted to get in on the action, so asked Will Yates, jerky-making expert and founder of Billy Frank’s to give us some tips. Click through to our interview for inspiration on his cheeseburger and teriyaki varieties, or use our recipes below to get started straight away.
Choosing the meat
Fat spoils quickly, so chose a lean cut so you don’t have to spend too long trimming it. Silverside is cheap and easy to get hold of. Roll blade and skirt are also good cuts for jerky-making.
Soak the beef in a cold marinade for at least five hours to infuse it with delicious flavours. Acidity helps tenderise the meat, so use vinegar as a base – white wine vinegar is fine, but Chinkiang black rice vinegar creates interesting, smoky flavours. Strong flavours like chillies, miso and soy all work well in the marinades.
Jerky is a popular request amongst astronauts going on space missions
The aim is to dry out the beef quickly – and at a high enough temperature – so it doesn’t spoil, but without actually cooking the meat. Dehydrators are best because they closely regulate low temperatures, however an oven can also work if you carefully monitor its temperature with a thermometer – most domestic ovens are not designed to be accurate at low temperatures.
Temperatures & food safety
Making jerky is safe if you pay attention to the basic temperature guidelines. The Excalibur dehydrators have a special ‘jerky setting’ at 68°C, which is perfect. If cooking in an oven, be very careful to make sure it is hot enough. If you think the beef might have been kept below 63°C for any period of time, then throw it away!
6-8 hours at 68°C is ideal – after that, tear a piece apart, and check that the jerky has a dried-out, rather than fleshy, consistency.
250g roll blade beef per marinade
Choose one of the following marinades:
Chinkiang, tamarind and miso
40g Chinkiang black rice vinegar
10g rice vinegar
20g Kikkoman soy sauce
20g red miso
10g white miso
5g fresh ginger, grated
15g lemon, freshly-squeezed
- If you have time, freeze the beef for 1 hour, so it’s easier to cut, but not frozen-solid.
- Mix together the marinade in a container
- Slice the beef, between 0.5 -1cm thick, and soak in the marinade for a minimum of 5 hours – overnight is ideal.
- Dehydrate for 6-8 hours at 68°C. Tear a piece of beef to check that it is dried-out throughout.
- Slice into bite-sized pieces.