Are you a fan of beef jerky but tired of the store-bought options that are loaded with preservatives and sodium?
Why not try making your own paper thin beef jerky at home? Not only is it a healthier snack option, but it’s also surprisingly easy to make.
With just a few simple ingredients and some patience, you can create your own delicious and flavorful beef jerky that is sure to impress.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to make paper thin beef jerky that is crispy, tender, and bursting with flavor.
So, grab your apron and let’s get started!
How To Make Paper Thin Beef Jerky?
Step 1: Choose the Right Cut of Meat
The first step in making paper thin beef jerky is to choose the right cut of meat. Look for lean cuts like sirloin or round roast, and ask your butcher to slice it as thin as possible against the grain. If you’re slicing it yourself, make sure the meat is slightly frozen before slicing to ensure even thickness.
Step 2: Marinate the Meat
Once you have your thinly sliced beef, it’s time to marinate it. Combine salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and any other spices of your choice in a large zip-top bag. Add the beef slices to the bag and shake to coat evenly. Let the beef marinate in the fridge for 12-36 hours, shaking the bag occasionally to ensure even coating.
Step 3: Dehydrate the Beef
After marinating, remove the beef slices from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat your dehydrator or oven (with the door cracked) to 165°F/74°C. Lay the beef slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays or cooling racks and dry for 4-6 hours, occasionally blotting off any fat droplets that appear on the surface.
Step 4: Test and Store
To test if your beef jerky is properly dried, let a cooled piece cool and then bend it. It should crack but not break. Once done, store your paper thin beef jerky in an airtight container or vacuum seal it for longer shelf life. Keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Choosing The Right Cut Of Beef
Choosing the right cut of beef is crucial when making paper thin beef jerky. You want to select a lean cut of meat that has very little fat, as fat does not dehydrate like lean meat and can lead to spoilage. Some of the best cuts of meat for beef jerky include top round, bottom round, and sirloin tip. These cuts are lean, flavorful, and affordable. Other cuts like flank steak and skirt steak can also make great jerky but may require some trimming of excess fat.
It’s important to note that when selecting your beef, you want to look for cuts with a clear and easily identifiable grain. This will make it easier to slice the meat thinly against the grain, which will result in a more tender jerky. If you’re unsure about which cut of beef to choose, ask your local butcher for their recommendations. They can give you helpful tips and advice about what beef is best for making jerky at home.
When it comes to slicing your beef, it’s important to slice against the grain. This will break up the muscle fibers and make the jerky more tender. If you’re slicing the meat yourself, make sure it’s slightly frozen before slicing to ensure even thickness.
Preparing The Meat For Jerky
Preparing the meat for jerky is a crucial step in making delicious and flavorful beef jerky. To start, it’s important to select the right cut of meat. Lean cuts like sirloin or round roast work well, and it’s best to ask your butcher to slice it as thin as possible against the grain. This will result in tender and easy-to-chew jerky.
Before marinating the beef, it’s essential to trim any visible fat from the meat. Fat can cause the jerky to spoil faster, so it’s best to remove as much as possible before starting the process. Use a sharp knife to cut away any excess fat.
Once the meat is trimmed and sliced, it’s time to marinate it. A good marinade should include a combination of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, smoked paprika, honey, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix the marinade in a large bowl and add the beef slices, making sure they are completely coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
After marinating, remove the beef slices from the bowl and transfer them to paper towels to dry. Discard the marinade. Preheat your oven or dehydrator to 165°F/74°C. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Arrange the beef slices in a single layer on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet.
Bake or dehydrate the beef slices until they are dry and leathery, which should take around 4-6 hours. It’s important to occasionally blot off any fat droplets that appear on the surface of the jerky during this process. Once done, let the jerky cool before testing if it’s properly dried by bending a cooled piece – it should crack but not break.
Finally, store your paper thin beef jerky in an airtight container or vacuum seal it for longer shelf life. Keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place to ensure freshness. By following these steps, you’ll be able to make delicious and flavorful paper thin beef jerky that is perfect for snacking anytime!
Creating The Marinade
Creating the perfect marinade is crucial in making paper thin beef jerky. While there are many different marinade recipes out there, a basic recipe that works well for most people is to mix together soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
However, you can also experiment with different flavors and spices to create your own unique marinade. For example, if you like spicy jerky, you can add red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to your marinade. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, you can add honey or maple syrup.
To create your marinade, simply combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl or zip-top bag. Mix well to ensure that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Next, add your thinly sliced beef to the marinade and toss to coat. Make sure that all of the beef is fully submerged in the marinade. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.
When your beef has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then, use paper towels to pat the beef dry and remove any excess liquid.
Finally, place your beef slices on dehydrator trays or cooling racks and dehydrate them according to the instructions in Step 3 above. Once your paper thin beef jerky is done, store it in an airtight container or vacuum seal it for longer shelf life.
By following these simple steps and experimenting with different flavors and spices in your marinade, you can create delicious paper thin beef jerky that is perfect for snacking on-the-go or adding to your favorite recipes.
Marinating The Meat
Marinating the meat is a crucial step in making paper thin beef jerky. The marinade not only adds flavor but also helps to tenderize the meat. To make a basic marinade, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, and any other spices of your choice in a large mixing bowl or zip-top bag. You can also add meat tenderizer to the marinade, which contains an enzyme that breaks down the meat tissue and makes it more tender.
Before adding the beef slices to the marinade, make sure to remove all visible fat from the meat. This is because fat does not dry out and can accelerate spoilage. Once the meat is trimmed, add it to the marinade and mix everything around until all the strips are completely covered. Place the bag or container in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least 12 hours, but no more than 36 hours.
While marinating, it’s important to shake the bag or mix the contents occasionally to ensure even coating. You can also experiment with different marinade ingredients like honey, apple cider vinegar, or hot sauce to create your own unique flavor profile.
Once the beef has finished marinating, remove it from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Do not rinse off the marinade as it will add flavor to the jerky. Preheat your dehydrator or oven (with the door cracked) to 165°F/74°C and lay the beef slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays or cooling racks.
Drying The Jerky
Drying the jerky is the most crucial step in making paper thin beef jerky. There are several methods to dry the meat, including sun-drying, oven-drying, dehydrator, microwave, and smoker. However, the oven-drying method is perhaps the easiest and most consistent method for dehydration.
When using the oven-drying method, set the heat as low as possible and don’t use the broiling element. If your broiling element comes on even at the lowest baking setting, place a heavy-duty foil or cookie sheet on the top shelf to deflect the heat. To encourage air circulation, place a fan near the open door. Don’t overload your oven with too much jerky, and remember that the optimal drying temperature is usually around 140 degrees.
To make paper thin beef jerky using the oven-drying method, start by draining the meat from the marinade and patting it dry with a towel. Arrange the strips of meat on a single layer on a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet. Bake the meat for about four hours or until the jerky is dry to touch. Check the jerky often as drying times can vary. Sometimes, the process can take up to 12 hours.
Once done, remove the jerky from the oven and raise the temperature to 275°F/135°C. Place the jerky on a clean baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes. This extra step helps eliminate harmful bacteria that may be present in the meat and ensures that your paper thin beef jerky is safe to eat.
Storing And Enjoying Your Homemade Beef Jerky
Storing and enjoying your homemade beef jerky is just as important as making it. To ensure that your paper thin beef jerky stays fresh and flavorful, you need to store it properly. Here are some tips on how to store and enjoy your homemade beef jerky:
1. Store in an Airtight Container – After your beef jerky is properly dehydrated, store it in an airtight container to prevent moisture and air from getting in. You can use a plastic freezer bag or a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
2. Keep it Cool – Beef jerky should be stored in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or in areas with high humidity, as this can cause mold and spoilage.
3. Use Oxygen Absorbers – Oxygen absorbers are small packets that can be added to your storage container to remove any oxygen that may be present. This helps to prevent bacteria growth and extends the shelf life of your beef jerky.
4. Label and Date – Make sure to label your storage container with the date that you made the beef jerky. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored and when it needs to be consumed.
5. Enjoy Within 2 Months – Homemade beef jerky is best enjoyed within 1-2 months of being made. This ensures that it stays fresh and retains its flavor and texture. If you have more than you can eat in that time frame, consider freezing it for up to 6 months.
6. Snack on the Go – Beef jerky is a great snack for on-the-go activities like hiking or camping. Pack some in a resealable bag or container for easy access when you need a quick protein boost.
By following these tips, you can enjoy your homemade paper thin beef jerky for longer and ensure that it stays fresh and delicious. Happy snacking!