Peppered beef jerky recipe

With all of the delicious recipes for Beef jerky that are floating around it is difficult to just stick with a single recipe to use.  Some are dried in the oven, some in a dehydrator, and some are smoked dried.  For this recipe I am going to do a side by side comparison and do half in my electric smoker and half in my dehydrator.  I tend to just do all of it in the dehydrator normally, and add a little smoke flavoring to the brine.  This is my all time favorite recipe for making jerky.  It does have some curing salt in it so anyone that is concerned about having nitrates they can leave it out.  It doesn’t change the flavor of the jerky but does make it last longer if you plan on multi-day trips.  The sodium nitrate in it helps prevent the growth of bacteria. This recipe is set for only one pound of meat but can easily be scaled up as needed.  The amount of curing salt will seem high to anyone that has experience in curing meats, but since this is a brine recipe more is needed.

Peppered jerky recipe
Kayla is ready with all the ingredients to make some jerky

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 lb of lean beef (any lean wild game can be used also)

Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsp of pickling salt (or any salt without added iodine)
  • 1/4 tsp Prague Powder #1 (I added a link here since I have never seen this sold locally)
  • 1/4 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (mesquite or hickory work well)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground back pepper (if you would like a stronger kick feel free to add more)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water

how to put it all together for delicious jerky:

  1. Make sure you trim all visible fat from your meat. if anything goes bad first it meat with a high fat content that goes rancid.
  2. Mix ingredients for marinade together in a glass bowl or plastic container.  Most marinades are acidic and will start breaking down a metal bowl (and aluminum is a very bad thing to eat)
  3. Cut meat into strips going with the grain.  You can cut it against the grain but it tends to break and get very crumbly.  the strips should be about 1/4 inch thick.  any bigger and it takes longer to dry.
  4. Marinade for 6-24 hours in the refrigerator.  I normally just leave it in over night so around 12ish hours
  5. Finally dry for around 7 hours at 160 degrees in a dehydrator.  For the half I put into the smoker it took 10 hours to finish.
Dried beef jerky
Lay the thinly sliced beef out flat on the racks
Dried beef jerky
The two different ways to dry the jerky made for different texture and color. The top one is from the dehydrator and the bottom from the smoker. Both taste great but also not even close to the same taste or texture

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Squash chips

Squash chips seasoned with a little cajain seasoning
Squash chips seasoned with a little cajun seasoning

Since all it takes is one squash plant to give me more squash then I can ever eat it is nice to be able to make other things out of it that will last a while.  A quick and easy one to do is to make chips out of them.  I use the dehydrator to make them.  Slice them into 1/4 inch slices then spread on dryer racks.  Season to however you like.  I have 3 different flavors going in this one today,  Ghost pepper infused salt, cajun seasoning, and some garlic salt.  The next batch will be just plain dehydrated squash which are made the exact same way minus the seasoning.  Dry for 6-8 hours at 130F.  Then store in airtight containers for up to 6 months.  They are still good after that but will lose some of their nutritional value.

A couple of squash from the garden
A couple of squash from the garden

Dehydrating onions

Dried onions are handy for anything from soups to making hiking meals.  (which is why I am drying them)  As with most veggies there is very little prep work needed to dry onions.  You can slice them into rings and dry or into strips.  Just make sure that they are no thicker then 1/4 inch, and are not touching each other on the drying rack.  Dry at 130F for 6-8 hours.  When they are done they will be dry and brittle.  Unless you like to have watery eyes a lot you should always dry onions in a garage or in an extremely well ventilated room.  (same goes for spicy peppers) As soon as I get more veggies and herb dried I will start on making some trail cooking recipe posts.

One of 6 trays of onions slices drying.  I get about 2 onions to fit per tray
One of 6 trays of onions slices drying. I get about 2 onions to fit per tray

Dehydrating Melons and Banana’s

As the wealth of fresh summer fruits and veggies are continuing you have to ask yourself.  What do I do with all of this food before it goes bad?  One of the answers to this is to Dehydrate it.  Neither of these two comes from my garden but they were on sale and are two very easy things to dehydrate.  And both are very tasty when they are finished.  Usually about when August hits I have my dehydrator running nearly every day until close to christmas.  The amount of things that can be dehydrated and used during the colder parts of the year are enormous.  And if they are don right you lose little to no nutrients out of them in the process.  The main thing about dehydrating is getting the correct temperature for what you are drying.  And don’t mix things that are require different temperatures.  Such as herbs and fruit.  Herbs need to be dried at a much lower temperature than fruit do.

Banana: peel and cut banana’s crosswise into about 1/4 inch slices.  At this point you can dip them in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.  This is optional since it only affects the appearance and not the taste of the banana chip.  Lay the slices on your drying tray making sure that they are not touching each other.  Then dry at 130F for 8-10 hours.  The chips will feel dry and leathery when they are done.  They will still be a little sticky so remove them from the tray before they cool to prevent them from cementing to the tray.

Banana chips that have been soaked in lemon juice to prevent browning
Banana chips that have been soaked in lemon juice to prevent browning

Honeydew: Cut melon in half and scoop out the seeds from each section.  Then slice each section into quarters. (8 slices total)  You can then cut the rind off each section and then slice them into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  Total size is personal preference for drying as long as they are all the same thickness.  Dry at 130F for 16-18 hour.  (lots of water in these puppies)  When done they will be dry and leathery but still flexible.  Canalopes can be done the same way but only require 10-12 hours to dry.

Honeydew with rind cut off and slices into quarter inch wedges
Honeydew with rind cut off and slices into quarter inch wedges