Thinking of a healthy and filling snack for your next hike? What could be better than a pack of beef jerky? Well-dehydrated beef jerky made from the beef ground is loved by people of all ages. One big pack of dehydrated jerky is all you need for instant hunger relief. But instead of buying a store-bought jerky why not make beef jerky at home in a dehydrator? Homemade jerky is way much tastier and healthier than store-bought when cooked perfectly. And if you’ve already got a good food dehydrator at home then it’s time to cook some delicious beef jerky.
Is it safe to make beef jerky in a dehydrator?
Safety is one big concern while making beef jerky in a dehydrator at home. And I think it is important to consider food safety before beginning the dehydration process as not all foods are safe to dehydrate. But thankfully, beef jerky tastes even better when properly dehydrated which makes beef jerky safe to dehydrate in a dehydrator.
But before dehydrating beef strips it is recommended to heat the meat to a food-safe temperature. Blast the temperature of your dehydrator to its highest capacity. A temperature range between 150°C-160°F is ideal for dehydrating beef jerky. The initial high heat helps to kill harmful bacteria off the meat surface before you begin dehydrating process which requires low temperatures.
If your electric food dehydrator does not reach a temperature such high then use an oven. A countertop or built-in wall oven is capable of reaching high temperatures within a few minutes. This will kill bacteria present on the lean cut of meat as well as help elongate its shelf life.
How to make beef jerky using a food dehydrator
A majority of dehydrators are advertised for their jerky-making capacity. So one clear thing is, many of us love chewing long juicy stripes. And you can easily make them at home and alter the taste of jerky the way you like. But the question is, how to make beef jerky at home using an electric food dehydrator.
The first step and crucial part of making a flavorful jerky are by selecting the right cut of meat. Not all parts of beef are made for dehydration. Jerky is made best using the following cuts of beef meat.
- Bottom round
- Sirloin tip
Make sure the cut you use is lean as it dehydrates the meat fast. If you wish for a flavorful beef jerky at home then go for a sirloin tip. Sirloin tip is a little expensive but an extremely lean part of beef which makes it perfect for dehydration. Or else, you can go for a top round or bottom round cut of beef which is also lean, flavorful, and less expensive than a sirloin tip. However, today I’ll provide you with the best-tasting beef jerky recipe make with round steak. Get ready for tons of compliments.
- Round steak(2 pounds); cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4-cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- A pinch of meat tenderizer
- Flavoring ingredients such as garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper
Step 1 – Marinate
- Marination of beef is an unskippable part if you’re looking forward to making flavorful jerky at home. Take a big bowl and pour soy sauce into it. Then after begin adding Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, meat tenderizer, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Give it a good whisk and then add thinly cut strips of beef round.
- Make sure the meat stripes are well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl inside the refrigerator. Let the mixture marinate well in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Or you can keep it overnight for better results.
Step 2 – Preparation
- Take out the bowl from the fridge, remove the meat stripes, and place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Make sure the thickness of the around a pound to 1/8-inch.
Step 3 – Dehydration
- Arrange the marinated stripes on the food dehydrator tray such that there is a small gap between stripes for the hot air to pass. Also, avoid overlapping stripes. Turn highest settings of dehydrator or as mentioned in the user manual to dehydrate marinated beef stripes. It will take around 4-8 hours to make beef jerky. The doneness of jerky hugely depends on the brand, highest temperature setting, and thickness of the meat.
Do you need to flip jerky in a dehydrator?
Flipping of jerky is not necessary, especially when using an electric food dehydrator. However, it might be helpful to change the locations of trays, depending on the model, for better dehydration.
Many brands feature the heating element at the bottom. This means the tray near to heating element will receive hot air quickly and continuously. Ultimately, the beef stripes laying on the bottom tray will reach a pliable texture quickly than the uppermost tray. Many Nesco round food dehydrators feature heating elements on the bottom or top. And it is better to change the tray position once in between the dehydrating cycle for even doneness of beef jerky.
Then there are food dehydrators like Excalibur 2900ECB with the heating elements on the back. Here, you do not need to pause and reposition trays as the horizontal airflow ensures hot air passes through each tray evenly. And no breaks in between cycle ensures better and quick dehydration.
Can you over dehydrate jerky?
Yes, you may have exposed the beef stripes to hot air for too long. But do not worry about over dehydrated beef jerky as it is possible to rehydrate them. When you’re ready to consume, simply re-hydrate overdried beef jerky the same way as you’d do with other foods.
Overdrying of beef jerky is a common issue for many beginners. Even I overdried jerky stripes for the first few times while learning to use my food dehydrator. And it is quite okay as you have the option to fix over-dried jerky by replacing the water removed.
It takes some time to understand the time and temperature setting of a new food dehydrator machine. It is always good to follow the time and temperature setting provided in the user manual as it works best for the machine. And if lucky, you can make pliable beef jerkies in one turn.
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The Bottom Line
Beef jerky dehydrators are best to make delicious pliable meat stripes at home. The best part about making beef jerky at home is you can alter the taste of meat the way you like. Add curing salt a little and the shelf life of homemade jerky doubles. Not only beef jerky but a good electric dehydrator is capable of making banana chips, apple chips, fruit rolls/leather, dried herbs, spices, and much more. No need to settle for the fixed flavors of store-bought jerkies anymore when you can make it much cheaper, more flavorful and, healthier at home.