Are you a beef jerky lover but trying to watch your sodium intake? Look no further!
In this article, we’ll show you how to make delicious low sodium beef jerky right in your own kitchen.
With just a few simple ingredients and a food dehydrator, you can enjoy this protein-packed snack without worrying about your salt intake.
So, let’s get started and learn how to make homemade low sodium beef jerky that’s perfect for road trips, camping, or just snacking on the go!
How To Make Low Sodium Beef Jerky?
First, choose a lean cut of beef such as top round roast that doesn’t have a lot of visible fat. Slice off any excess fat and cut the meat, with the grain, into quarter-inch slices.
Next, mix together 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 clove of garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 2 sage leaves, 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 cup of pineapple juice.
If you’d like, you can marinate the beef in your favorite low-sodium marinade, but make sure to store it in the refrigerator while it’s marinating.
After marinating overnight, arrange the marinated strips of beef on the trays of a food dehydrator, making sure to lay each piece flat and not overlap any pieces. Take a look at the instructions on the user manual but use your judgment and check the jerky every 45 minutes or so.
It takes about 90 minutes at 165°F to get the jerky dry but not hard. Let the jerky cool completely and store in the refrigerator.
Why Choose Low Sodium Beef Jerky?
Low sodium beef jerky is a great option for those who want to enjoy the delicious taste of beef jerky without consuming excessive amounts of sodium. Traditional beef jerky is known for its high sodium content, which can be harmful to your health if consumed in large quantities. Low sodium beef jerky, on the other hand, is made with less salt, making it a healthier snack option.
By choosing low sodium beef jerky, you can maintain your blood pressure and reduce your risk for hypertension. Excessive sodium intake can harm several aspects of your health, including heart health, blood pressure, and stroke risk. Low sodium beef jerky has only 85mg of sodium per serving, which is significantly lower than traditional beef jerky.
Another advantage of low sodium beef jerky is that it’s gluten-free and doesn’t contain any hormones or antibiotics. This makes it a great snack option for people with dietary restrictions or those who are health-conscious.
Low sodium beef jerky also contains high-quality ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, chili pepper, and more. Most commercial jerky contains soy sauce as the primary ingredient, which is high in sodium. However, by combining soy sauce with other quality ingredients, the sodium content can be reduced while enhancing the flavor even more.
Choosing The Right Cut Of Beef
Choosing the right cut of beef is crucial when making low sodium beef jerky. Cuts of beef that have more intramuscular marbling make more tender jerky. Top round and bottom round are lean, flavorful, and the best cuts of beef for jerky. Sirloin tip is extremely lean, but not as tender, and a bit more expensive. Flank steak is also lean and flavorful, but can be tough if it’s sliced with the grain.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try making jerky with exotic meats like grass-fed Tibetan Yak, alligator, kangaroo meat, venison, buffalo, elk, and boar. These meats are leaner than beef and can be just as delicious. When it comes to jerky, leaner is always better.
It’s important to note that the processing technique will have an even bigger impact on the tenderness of the jerky than the cut of beef. If you prefer a softer or more tender jerky, try recipes that have ingredients such as sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar, which can break down the muscle fibers. Additionally, reduce the cook and dry time slightly to achieve more moisture. Just make sure to adequately dry the jerky for full shelf-stability.
Preparing The Meat
To prepare the meat for low sodium beef jerky, start by removing all visible fat from the lean cut of beef. It’s important to choose a lean meat that doesn’t have a lot of visible fat to ensure that your jerky is low in calories and fat.
Once you have removed the excess fat, place the meat in the freezer for about 60 to 90 minutes. This will make it easier to slice thinly. You don’t want the meat to be frozen solid, just firm enough that you can pierce it with the point of a sharp knife.
Slice the meat in long thin strips, going with or against the grain depending on your preference. Jerky sliced against the grain tends to be easier to chew and breaks more easily into pieces whereas jerky that is sliced with the grain will be a lot chewier and somewhat leathery.
Place your meat in a re-sealable plastic bag or non-reactive container with fitting lid and set aside. In a large measuring cup or mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix until very well combined. Pour over the sliced meat and mix everything around until all the strips are completely covered.
Place your meat in the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight. This will allow the flavors to infuse into the meat and make it more flavorful. Once marinated, remove the strips of meat from the marinade and place them directly on your oven racks or food dehydrator trays.
No need to pat them dry, just let the strips drip a little bit as you remove them. Make sure to lay each piece flat and not overlap any pieces. Depending on your method of drying, follow the instructions on the user manual but use your judgment and check the jerky every 45 minutes or so.
It takes about 90 minutes at 165°F to get the jerky dry but not hard. Let the jerky cool completely and store in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4-6 months.
Making The Marinade
Making the marinade for low-sodium beef jerky is an important step in achieving a delicious and healthy snack. While the recipe above includes a pineapple juice-based marinade, there are many options to choose from depending on your preferences.
To make a simple marinade, mix together soy sauce, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. For a sweeter option, add brown sugar or honey to the marinade. You can also add local flavors such as red or green chili for a unique twist.
When making the marinade, it’s important to keep in mind that the less salt you use, the longer you’ll need to marinate the beef to achieve the desired flavor. Overnight marination is recommended for low-sodium jerky.
Once you’ve mixed your marinade, place the sliced beef into a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it. Make sure all of the meat is coated evenly and then seal the bag tightly. Store it in the refrigerator while it’s marinating.
After marinating overnight, follow the instructions above for dehydrating the beef strips. With a delicious and healthy homemade low-sodium beef jerky in hand, you can enjoy a satisfying snack without any added salt or preservatives.
Dehydrating The Jerky
To dehydrate the low sodium beef jerky, start by preheating your food dehydrator to 165°F. If your model allows, you can go up to 175°F.
Once the dehydrator is preheated, drain the marinade from the meat and place the strips in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Make sure that no two pieces are touching each other.
Depending on how thick your slices are, it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to fully dehydrate the jerky. To ensure even drying, rotate the trays hourly.
Check the progress of the jerky after 4 hours and turn over any pieces that aren’t drying evenly. Conduct a bend test to ensure that you do not overdo the jerky. Properly dried jerky should crack when bent but not break.
If your dehydrator doesn’t reach 165°F, dry the jerky at 145°F until done, then pasteurize it in your oven. To pasteurize, place the strips on a baking sheet and heat for 10 minutes in an oven at 275°F after drying.
Once fully dehydrated, remove any pieces of jerky that are fully dry and continue dehydrating until all the jerky is completely dry. Allow the jerky to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
With these steps, you can make delicious low sodium beef jerky at home using a food dehydrator.
Storing And Enjoying Your Low Sodium Beef Jerky
Congratulations on making your own low sodium beef jerky! Now, it’s important to store and enjoy it properly to make it last longer and taste its best.
To begin with, it’s best to store your beef jerky in an airtight container. This will prevent moisture from getting in and causing mold growth or bacterial action that can spoil the jerky. You can choose to store it in a Ziplock bag or a glass jar with a tight lid.
It’s also important to keep your beef jerky in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can speed up the degradation process and cause the jerky to spoil quicker. So, avoid exposing it to direct sunlight and keep it in a dark pantry or cupboard.
Maintaining a steady temperature is also crucial for storing your low sodium beef jerky. Avoid subjecting it to an environment where it freezes and thaws repeatedly, as this can halve its shelf life. Instead, keep it cool, but not cold or hot, at a steady normal room temperature.
If you’re not planning on eating your beef jerky right away, you can freeze it for later. However, freezing may affect its taste, texture, and nutrition. So, only freeze it when absolutely necessary and make sure to store it properly in an airtight container.
Finally, make sure to date and label your beef jerky for future reference. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored and when it’s time to consume it.