Today we are making one of the most ubiquitous hiking snacks around, delicious beef jerky. Making your own beef jerky beats store-bought jerky every time because you can select the highest quality cut of meat as well as experiment with your favorite flavors to come up with a snack that is uniquely yours. Best of all making your own jerky can be easy with a few simple tricks we will explain in this recipe.
2 Pounds of Meat - We like using Eye of Round, Top Round, or Bottom Round for Jerky because they are lean, flavorful, and affordable.
Dehydrator - If you don't already own one, here is the dehydrator we use, it's affordable and it works great. You can also find used dehydrators at most thrift stores for 5-10 bucks.
We recommend getting 2 lbs of meat from a full-service butcher. The butcher will be able to make recommendations and will also gladly thin slice your meat, saving you time.
Pro-Tip: If you need to slice the meat yourself, you can freeze it for about an hour prior to cutting and it will become firmer and easier to slice into thin strips.
Combine the sliced meat and 6 ounces of Smokey BBQ Mustard in a gallon zip-top bag. Make sure each slice is thoroughly coated and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 8-24 hours. The longer you marinate, the more flavorful your jerky will become.
Next, remove the beef strips from the marinade. You can pat each strip dry with a paper towel for jerky that dries faster or you can leave the excess marinade for a more flavorful jerky.
Evenly distribute the beef jerky strips on the dehydrator's trays. making sure to leave space between each piece for air flow.
Set your dehydrator to it's recommended temperature setting for meats. Usually around 160 degrees. Dehydrate for 4 - 8 hours or until done, times vary based on the marinade, thickness of the meat, and even the humidity of the air in your home. There is no set time for jerky to be done, which means you will have to check it periodically.
Check on your beef jerky after a few hours. Smaller pieces will be ready first and can be set aside as they finish. To test if a piece is done, bend it and if it feels leathery and some of the outer fibers are brittle but it doesn't snap it is ready to eat. If it snaps it may be a little overdone, but still totally edible. If it feels squishy and flexible let it dehydrate longer.
Pro-Tip: How long you dehydrate your beef jerky is up to you, if you like it extra dry and crunchy or chewier adjust accordingly.
To prepare beef jerky for storage pat off any oils that appeared during dehydrating and place jerky in a zip-top bag or vacuum seal with a food saver. Beef jerky will last 3-4 weeks at room temperature or on the trail. For long term storage place beef jerky in the freezer until you are going hiking or backpacking.
Next, check out our backpacking recipe for tortilla trail pizzas.