How to Make Easy Homemade Jerky

banner-johnnyA number of years ago, I started a protein intensive diet to lose weight. I started with the Atkins Diet, but it didn’t sit well with me. It had too high a concentration of saturated fat and not enough vegetables.

Then I studied the South Beach Diet and I became more of a believer. The South Beach Diet emphasize proteins, as well as a balance of fruits and vegetables. I don’t stick to any diet to strictly, but in general I prefer fruits and vegetables, which work best for my body.

With this type of approach I started becoming a fan of jerky as a snack. It seems like over the last several years, jerky has become so much more popular, and healthier version have become available. This is especially evident when you travel and see all the signs for jerky stores. I think the jerky you find in stores or make from home is a lot better for you than what you find in gas stations, so I decided to start making my own version.

Most recipes call for the use of a dehydrator. I didn’t have one and didn’t want to invest. After studying some articles and recipes, I decided to use my convection oven, setting it to 135 degrees. This way I get the fan from the convection drying and I still stay on the bottom edge of the food safety zone. A lot of jerky is dried at 90 degrees, but my food safety background wasn’t comfortable using that heat without the safety net of nitrites. But I wanted to avoid nitrites (nitrites are used to eliminate Botulism), and I also like my jerky on the thick side.

I cut my top round strips about 3/8 of an inch thick and used a dry rub marinade overnight. For convenience, I used Montreal Steak Seasoning. I took the strips and skewered them, then hung the skewers from my oven rack, which was set on the highest position (closest to the top of the broiler). Ten hours later, I had some great jerky. How fun! Now we have some great, high protein snacks on hand and I don’t have to pay $18-plus per pound!