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Make it Yourself Monday: Jerky

(oops... I accidentally scheduled this one for Tuesday instead of Monday.  My bad.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled insanity.)

Once upon a time I had a long, exhaustive list of "Make it Yourself Monday" topics- many I have tried, most I do regularly, and a few I hadn't done but wanted to try.

I have lost that list.

So, since I'm determined to hold myself to a more stringent blogging schedule, I had to instead look at "what have I made lately that I haven't posted yet."  My first thought was jerky.

Making your own jerky is much easier than you think.  Besides being easy it allows you to choose your seasoning, not use any nasty preservatives, and costs a LOT less than the store bought version.

Except that my first attempt at beef jerky wasn't super successful, so instead of posting a tried and true method I am going to post a sort of recipe round up along with some "what I will do better next time" tips.

First, here is the recipe that I followed from GNOWFGLINS: Basic Jerky- Not So Tough.  This is a really basic starter recipe for ground beef jerky, which I prefer as it is easier to chew and it is easier to get good flavor throughout.  If you're afraid to try to make jerky, or afraid you might over-season it, this is a great place to start.  It is very lightly seasoned and the finished product tastes quite a bit like, um, meat.  That's a good thing (although I will probably add more seasoning next time).

WHERE I WENT WRONG:  I don't have one of these:

I'm not saying you NEED a big fancy dehydrator to make jerky, but it helps.  I did mine in the oven, and it could have hypothetically turned out okay.  Except that I put the full amount of the recipe in one half sheet pan, since I have a ridiculously small oven.  I didn't think that the jerky was rolled out too thick, but shows you what I know!  So that's the first thing I did- rolled the jerky too thick/didn't use enough pans.  And since I was using my oven, which is small, old, and not very accurate I don't think I had the heat set quite right.  Thanks to these two factors it took two days for my jerky to dry fully, and even then I wasn't happy with the way it turned out.  But I don't think that is a reflection of the recipe.

If, however, you want jerky more like what you can buy packaged at your local gas station, you will need to add a lot more seasoning.  But this is a good basic recipe, allowing you to adjust the seasoning to your taste.  I know the next time I make jerky I am going to try adding liquid smoke, more cayenne pepper, and some more savory herbs like thyme or oregano.

Here are some more recipes:

Salmon Jerky from the Nourishing Cook
Another Hamburger Jerky, with Ginger!
Whole Meat Jerky from Mark's Daily Apple

Happy jerky making!

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