Are you an avid outdoorsman or survivalist looking for a tasty and protein-packed snack to take on your next adventure?
Look no further than homemade beef jerky! With just a few simple steps, you can turn any lean cut of meat into a delicious and portable snack that will keep you fueled on the go.
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of making beef jerky in the wild, from selecting the right meat to drying it out to perfection.
So grab your hunting knife and let’s get started!
How To Make Beef Jerky In The Wild?
Step 1: Choose Your Meat
When making beef jerky in the wild, it’s important to choose the right cut of meat. Look for lean cuts like sirloin or round steak, and avoid any meat with excess fat or connective tissue.
Step 2: Slice the Meat
Once you’ve selected your meat, it’s time to slice it into thin strips. For tender jerky, cut against the grain of the meat. Remove any visible fat to prevent off flavors and rancidity during the drying process.
Step 3: Prepare Your Marinade
Next, prepare your marinade. This can be as simple or complex as you like, but a basic marinade might include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
Step 4: Marinate the Meat
Place your sliced meat in a plastic bag or container and pour your marinade over it. Make sure each piece is coated evenly. Let the meat marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor.
Step 5: Dry the Meat
To dry your beef jerky in the wild, you’ll need to hang it up to air dry. Run a thin piece of cordage through the middle of each piece of meat and tie it to a tripod at both ends so that the strand is parallel to the ground.
Let the meat dry for several hours or overnight until it is completely dry and no longer moist to the touch. You can also use a dehydrator or smoker if you have access to one.
Step 6: Store Your Jerky
Once your beef jerky is dry, store it in an airtight container or plastic bag. It will keep for several weeks at room temperature, or longer if refrigerated or frozen.
Selecting The Right Cut Of Meat
When selecting the right cut of meat for beef jerky, it’s important to choose a lean cut of meat with low-fat flakes. The best cuts of meat for beef jerky are top round, bottom round, pectoral, and lifter. These cuts are not only lean but also economical and full of flavor.
While other cuts like flank steak and skirt steak can also make great jerky, it’s important to ensure that the meat is lean and free from excess fat or connective tissue. Rib and skirt meat are not recommended for jerky beef because they tend to be tough and have a lot of fat.
It’s also worth noting that using wild game for jerky making is a great option because wild game tends to be much leaner than commercially farmed beef. Large cuts that can be sliced into long, thin strips work best for homemade jerky. Backstrap makes first-rate jerky with little work involved, save the slicing. Hindquarter cuts of beef are the typical go-to place for most high-end commercial jerky, so the large round roasts of deer, elk, or moose hindquarters work great too.
Preparing The Meat For Jerky
Before making beef jerky, it’s important to prepare the meat properly. Start by selecting a lean cut of meat, such as top round, bottom round, pectoral, or lifter. These cuts are economical and full of flavor. Flank and skirt steak can also be used, but make sure to trim any excess fat or connective tissue.
Once you have your meat, use a sharp knife to slice it into thin strips. For tender jerky, cut against the grain of the meat. This will help break down the muscle fibers and make the jerky easier to chew. Remove any visible fat from the meat to prevent spoilage during the drying process.
Next, prepare your marinade. This can be a simple mixture of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
Place your sliced meat in a plastic bag or container and pour the marinade over it. Make sure each piece is coated evenly with the marinade. Seal the bag or container and let the meat marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor.
Once the meat has marinated, it’s time to dry it. If you have access to a dehydrator or smoker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying beef jerky. If you’re making beef jerky in the wild, you’ll need to hang it up to air dry. Run a thin piece of cordage through the middle of each piece of meat and tie it to a tripod at both ends so that the strand is parallel to the ground.
Let the meat dry for several hours or overnight until it is completely dry and no longer moist to the touch. Once your beef jerky is dry, store it in an airtight container or plastic bag. It will keep for several weeks at room temperature, or longer if refrigerated or frozen.
Choosing The Right Seasonings And Marinades
When it comes to choosing the right seasonings and marinades for your beef jerky, there are endless possibilities. However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain ingredients can affect the texture and shelf life of your jerky.
For a basic marinade, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce are great options for adding flavor and tenderizing the meat. Garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper are also common additions that can enhance the taste of your jerky.
If you’re looking to add some sweetness to your jerky, brown sugar or honey can be added to your marinade. However, it’s important to note that sugar can cause the jerky to become sticky and shorten its shelf life.
For a smoky flavor, try adding liquid smoke or smoked paprika to your marinade. This can give your jerky a depth of flavor that is reminiscent of traditional smoked meats.
When experimenting with different seasonings and marinades, be sure to keep in mind the safety precautions outlined in the raw text above. Always use fresh meat, clean equipment, and follow proper food safety guidelines to ensure that your homemade beef jerky is safe to eat.
Drying The Meat: Methods And Techniques
When it comes to drying the meat for beef jerky, there are several methods and techniques to consider. One option is to use an oven, which is a convenient way to dry the meat if you have access to one. To do this, preheat your oven to 160°F and place the meat strips on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow for air circulation and let the meat dry for 4-6 hours or until it is completely dry.
Another option is to use an electric dehydrator, which is specifically designed for drying foods like jerky. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific dehydrator, but generally, you’ll need to place the meat strips on the trays and set the temperature to 160°F. Let the meat dry for 4-6 hours or until it is completely dry.
It’s important to note that sun-drying is not recommended for making jerky because of the risk of contamination and unsteady heat source. Also, make sure to follow the safety precautions mentioned earlier, such as heating the meat to 160°F before drying to kill any harmful bacteria.
Finally, if you’re making beef jerky in the wild and don’t have access to an oven or dehydrator, you can hang the meat strips in a well-ventilated area using a thin piece of cordage. Make sure each piece is spaced out so that air can circulate around them, and check on them regularly to ensure they are drying evenly.
Storing And Packing Your Homemade Beef Jerky
After you have made your delicious homemade beef jerky, it’s important to store and pack it properly to ensure it stays fresh and flavorful. One of the best methods for storing your beef jerky is in a vacuum-sealed bag. This will allow you to keep the moisture in and the air out, which will prevent your jerky from spoiling. If you plan on making a lot of beef jerky or other foods that need sealing, investing in a vacuum sealer is well worth it. However, keep in mind that vacuum sealers can be a bit expensive, usually ranging between $100 to $200 for a brand new one.
If you want your beef jerky to last even longer, we recommend placing the vacuum-sealed bag in the freezer. This method can extend the shelf life of your beef jerky up to 12 months or more.
Another option for short-term storage is using a simple ziplock bag. This can keep your jerky fresh for at least 3-4 weeks or more. If you feel that your jerky is too moist, you can add a small food-grade desiccant bag to it. These can be found fairly cheap on Amazon.
When using a plastic bag for storage, make sure to mark the date that you made it on the bag and keep an eye on it from time to time. One drawback of using a plastic bag is that it can be breached by ambitious pests. To prevent this, consider storing the plastic bag inside of a mason jar or plastic food container.
If you’re planning on selling your homemade beef jerky or want to keep it fresh for an extended period of time, consider using flat barrier bags. These bags are designed to protect the contents until the “best by” date and beyond. While barrier design and construction protect your product from external moisture, we suggest using oxygen absorbers as an additional protection. Nitrogen flush systems can also be used to expel any extra air that may be trapped in the bag, helping to seal in freshness and keep your jerky savory.