My kids really like beef jerky, and actually I do too. For a long time, we never had it in the house because a) it’s expensive and b) unless its full of sugars and nitrates, it is really expensive!
When a road trip left me desperate for some kind of portable protein, I tried an idea a friend had recommended: making jerky from ground beef. It was surprisingly easy, much cheaper, and the kids loved it. I now keep this on hand for daily snacks and make big batches for trips.
I’ve also found that deer and game meats can be prepared this way and are excellent! Usually, we just use grass fed beef though.
- 2-3 lbs of grass fed ground beef (or venison, elk, bison, etc.)
- 1-3 TBSP sea salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Garlic powder
- Coconut aminos (optional)
- Other spices to taste. I've made a Mexican type flavor with Cumin and Cilantro; a Chinese variation with ginger and coconut aminos; and an Italian version with Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, extra Garlic and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. On my oven this is 170 degrees F.
- Lightly rub olive oil over the bottom of a large baking sheet with a lip. (It is ok to use olive oil here because we aren't heating to high temps!)
- Mix any desired spices in with the ground meat
- Using the side of a glass or a rolling pin, roll the meat evenly around the baking sheet. It should be around ¼ inch thick. If it is too thick, use a second baking sheet.
- Using a butter knife, lightly score the meat to make the sizes you want for the jerky. You can also skip this step and use kitchen scissors to cut into strips when its done.
- Brush with coconut aminos or fermented soy sauce if desired and sprinkle with a little extra sea salt. (I use Himalayan salt which has almost 90 trace minerals)
- Put in the oven for 8-12 hours or until hardened. It is a good idea to flip once, but not necessary at all. I usually stick this in at night and it is ready to flip in the morning and done a few hours later.
- Store out of the fridge for a couple weeks, or keep in the freezer if you aren't going to use it before then.
The jerky will harden up more after taking it out, so don’t let it get too dry in the oven. It also cooks down a lot, so make more than you think you will need. My kids actually like this dipped in guacamole or salsa, but we also eat it plain or with raw cheese slices.
Ever made jerky? Were you successful? Let me know below!
Photo Credit: Suzanne Perazzini