Jerky is a great snack, but it’s usually expensive. It’s high in protein, low in fat, but also high in preservatives. You save money by making beef jerky yourself, and you can insure that it’s not full of preservatives and salt.
You can use a jerky-making machine (which is really just a meat dehydrator), a smoker or you can make it just by using your oven set at a very low temperature. All three ways are a great natural alternative to buying jerky in the store. You could also air-dry the meat, but that requires more space and time, and making beef jerky in the oven is surprisingly easy.
Since you can control the ingredients, do-it-yourself jerky can be much healthier than store-bought. A simple marinade on the meat—like barbecue or teriyaki sauce—will give it flavor without too much salt. Strip steak works well for homemade jerky, you just freeze the stakes slightly and slice into strips, then add the marinade. For best results, marinate the beef overnight, or at least four hours.
You then need to dry out the meat, and one way of making beef jerky is in the oven. You can place it on a cookie sheet or hang it through the bars of the trays of your oven. If you hang the meat, make sure to place a cookie sheet below to catch drippings. Set your oven to 250 degrees F or the lowest temperature you can. Propping the oven door open slightly can help, too.
Keep an eye on the beef jerky, as it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours to dry it sufficiently. When it’s completely dry, and stiff but still tender, your homemade jerky is done!
Store it an airtight jar or zip bag, and you’ll have a convenient, great-tasting and healthy snack, that’s a fraction of the cost of beef jerky that you buy in stores.