31 March 2011

Family Friendly Beef Jerky

Dear Lissy,
I'm looking forward to hiking and camping season even as we batten down the hatches for a spring snowstorm.  During the next several weeks I'll keep an eye out for sales on London Broil, top round, and even flank steak so I can start building up a supply of beef jerky.

This recipe is from a website that was popular when you were a baby, recipezaar.com.  One of the contributors, kittencal, was known for her amazing recipes that always worked well.

Unlike the usual recipes that call for smoking or heavy spices,  this oven dried beef jerky is easy to make and lightly flavored.  It rehydrates easily to make a meal if you're camping in the backcountry, too.

Kittencal's Oven-Dried Beef Jerky
from Recipezaar
Serves 6 normal people or 2 Pages
1 lb lean steak, at least 1" thick
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

  1. Place a wire cooling rack into a large baking sheet.
  2. Freeze the steak for 30 minutes until firm, but pliable.  
  3. Slice the steak very thinly across the grain into 1/8 in thick pieces.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients in a gallon zipper bag.
  5. Place the steak into the bag with the marinade, and coat all pieces evenly.
  6. Seal and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180 F  
  8. Spray the wire rack with non-stick spray, and lay the meat out in a single layer on the rack.
  9. Bake for 6-12 hours, checking every hour until meat is dried (it should bend, but not snap) 
  10. ***Andrea, a super-fantabulous cook from Pie Birds, found that her jerky dried in about 2 hours with even the thickest pieces finishing up in 3.  She had her oven set at 170 and propped open the door with a wooden spoon.  Start checking your meat at the 2 hour mark the first time you make it! ***
  11. Store in an airtight container when cooled.  Vacuum seal if possible.
Mom's Notes:
  • Kick it up a notch with a shake of cayenne, Tabasco, or even black pepper.
  • A dehydrator can be used, but follow the manufacturer's directions for meat carefully.
  • I prefer to store jerky in the freezer if I can't vacuum seal it.  If the meat smells off, or has any kind of powdery, mildewy coating, toss it.
  • Be careful not to leave jerky where your doggie can get to it.  Ask me how I know that!
Our family has always loved to spend time outdoors to renew and refresh our hearts.  I hope you will continue that tradition with your friends or family when you are grown.  I'll be writing a series of letters this summer on hiking packs, staves, camping gear, and even outdoor clothing.  Until then, I'll begin squirreling away food and supplies for our day hikes and camping trips.

Much love,
Your Solar-powered Momma


  1. Adam LOVES beef jerky but I have never attempted to make, for lack of a good tried and true method, that does not use a dehydrator. I am going to try this one for sure!
    I used to love recipezaar. I actually have a few recipes I posted on there years ago.
    Is that picture your beef jerky? It looks awesome!

  2. Being a totally-stressed-out-this-has-to-be-perfect personality led me to the decision to write letters (which I only proofread once) and omit pictures completely. I was concerned about spending too much time blogging and not enough time "momming".
    I was also concerned that pictures wouldn't still be viewable in 15 or 20 years time when Lissy was actually reading and using this information. I don't want her to feel that she's missing something special. I've already left her a note in one of my first letters explaining that I used mostly stock photos.
    I quickly realized that blogs NEED pictures, if only for the various widgets to work. 90% of my photos are non-copyrighted photos that I find in 2 minutes or less on Google. A few, like the garden beds, are my own.
    I do my best to find photos that accurately reflect what my own recipes look like if they aren't photos of my own cookin'.
    Enjoy your jerky! Adam would probably enjoy a shot of hot sauce and liquid smoke if he already is a beef jerky fan. This recipe is fairly mild by commercial standards.

  3. okay, help me out, my beef jerky was in the oven at 180 for about 9 1/2 hours and it was overcooked...It is borderline burnt and every piece is snappable :( The flavor is still good but I obviously screwed it up.
    I cut the pieces about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick. Maybe I should have cut them even thicker? I am determined to get it right, so I guess if I make it again I should bake during the day instead of overnight so I can monitor it cooking and pull it out when it seems done? Any thoughts?

  4. Well that's frustrating! The thickness is right, and the time is waaay short. I'd probably double check oven temp is correct at that low a setting with an oven thermometer first. Making it during the day is a good idea, too, and then you can adjust the time. Try rehydrating it a little bit in a vegetable steamer to save this batch. Sorry it didn't work first time, but thanks for taking the time to comment so I can adjust the recipe.