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The oven is the most common kitchen appliance in most households around the world. An oven may not match a dehydrator when it comes to efficient drying of foods but does an excellent job when the temperatures and timing are correctly set.
The fact that a dehydrator is the most useful kitchen equipment for preparing meat jerky doesn’t mean that you should always buy or borrow one when making homemade jerky.
You can use your oven for the same job and still realize similar or even better results. For those wondering how they turn their oven into a dehydrator to help them prepare the most delicious and chewable jerky, here are the simple guidelines to follow.
How to Make Homemade Oven Beef Jerky
1. Buy Quality Lean Beef Meat
Lean meat is the finest option for preparing long-lasting and delicious beef jerky. There’re many beef meat cuts that make up for the best homemade jerky among which include eye of round-cut, chuck, top round, sirloin tip, flank steak, and skirt steak.
Regardless of the meat cut you settle for, ensure it’s more than 93% lean to avoid issues with the jerky getting rancid and not drying properly. We all know fatty jerky is delicious and also very costly. While you’ll enjoy chewing the jerky, you’ll be forced to eat it all since it may not last till the next day.
Also, it may not be easy to make in an oven as ovens don’t have low enough temperature settings to favor the cooking of fatty beef meat. Buy a high-quality and fat-free meat if you want to prepare delicious and soft beef jerky that has a long shelf-life.
2. Cut Off Any Fat Content In The Meat
Preparing your homemade beef jerky with fat-full meat will give you super delicious and soft jerky, but it won’t last long. Storing the jerky beyond a day will only spell doom. That’s why you have to cut off all the fat content in the meat before moving to the next step of the jerky recipe preparation process.
3. Cut the Meat To ¼ Inch Slices
If you have a jerky slicer, the easier the cutting process will be. That’s true since the slicer will give you consistent meat slices that will dry evenly. For those who don’t have a jerky slicer, a freezer will help streamline the meat slicing process.
Get your meat, wrap it in a plastic bag, and then keep it in the freezer for 2 hours maximum. Frozen meat is easier to cut, so after the two hours, get your meat and slice it into small pieces that have consistent widths.
You’re advised to slice the meat against the grain for it to produce better jerky that’s easier to chew.
4. Prepare Your Jerky Marinade
Now prepare a jerky marinade with your preferred ingredients. You can use a chili-lime recipe for more outstanding results. It’s a favorite flavor loved and preferred by all due to its great taste.
After making the marinade, add the slices of beef meat into the marinade and cover them evenly. Now, place the beef meat marinade in an oven and let it marinate for about 6 hours.
5. Use Aluminum Foil To Cover The Jerky
During the drying process, cover the lower end of the oven rack with aluminum foil to prevent drippings while the jerky is drying out. Not adding a protective layer on the bottom shelf will mess you big time.
Nobody wants to be cleaning their oven every time they prepare a beef meat jerky. And so, that’s why you are strongly advised to cover up the area below where you place your meat pieces. Use a paper towel to dry up the strips and remove the excess marinade.
Things To Do During The Dying Process
When preparing meat jerky in an oven, you have to watch out for various safety precautions and guidelines to ensure you get fine and delicious beef jerky.
- Hang the meat strips precisely – you may choose to hang the jerky slices on the metal rack or hang them with toothpicks. Slide the toothpicks across the ends of each of the meat pieces and attach them well on the oven for efficient drying.
- Heat the meat to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit – pull out the metal rack and preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, hang the meat strips before pushing back the racks to the oven. The pieces should be placed flat on the rack, and the oven left to pre-heat for some time.
- Push back the racks – push back the oven rack and make sure the strips don’t fall during the process. Pre-heat the meat pieces with the door closed for about 10 minutes to kill all existing bacteria and viruses.
- Change the cooking temperature – once the ten minutes are over, turn the oven to the lowest temperature achievable. Now open up your door with a non-conduct to avoid being burnt. Drying the meat while the door is open allows the moisture to escape, and to air circulates properly.
- Cook for a maximum of 8 hours – depending on the thickness of your jerky, let your jerky cook for the next 6 hours. Make sure you check the jerky after every 3 hours.
Keep Air Circulation And Temperature Under Control
When preparing beef meat jerky in a dehydrator, you should dry at around 145 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve properly dried jerky. When using an oven, you have to use the lowest temperature setting available.
The majority of ovens cannot heat at a temperature below 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your oven to dry your beef meat at 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Drying entails the removal of the moisture content found in meat.
Doing so requires the moisture to be correctly removed out of the oven; otherwise, it will affect the drying process. The vents in your oven may not be 100% enough, and so you may need to crack oven the oven doors to provide enough room for the moisture to escape.
- You might find it useful: Convection oven cooking time chart
Benefits of Homemade Oven Beef Jerky
Beef jerky packs all the nutrients of beef meat. It’s a healthy and delicious snack, which is fun to prepare and easy to carry around.
It packs nutrients like minerals, vitamins, proteins, sodium, and fat. Preparing and serving beef jerky at home comes with many health benefits.
- Fat and Calories – Eating beef jerky adds to your overall body energy. It’s the perfect energy-boosting snack to take before engaging in energy-requiring tasks and workouts. It contains high amounts of healthy fat and calories, which can help boost your overall body healthy. The fat content in jerky meat is limited, so it won’t increase your risk of suffering from heart diseases.
- Sodium – Extreme levels of sodium in the body may have detrimental health problems, but if taken under preservation, there are lower chances of health dangers. When adding sodium to your beef jerky to lengthen its shelf life, make sure you don’t raise it to extreme levels as it may lead to high blood pressure, stroke, or even kidney disease.
- Zinc and Iron – Zinc and iron are well-known minerals crucial in boosting the body’s immune system. Iron works to promote red cell production while zinc helps the body heal faster. Since beef meat is high in zinc and iron, it’s useful for improving your overall body health as well as improving the performance of your body defense system.
How Long Can My Oven Beef Jerky Last?
Beef jerky, just like every other healthy snack will go bad after some time. Properly dried and stored beef jerky can last for up to two weeks. One of the reasons beef jerky lasts that long is because the meat used in making it is very lean and low in fat content.
Also, during drying all the moisture content is removed, meaning it won’t attract bacteria that can lead to it spoiling after some time. Since the jerky is added with salt, it serves as a preservative, which helps lengthen its lifespan. Some people use pepper to season their jerky, another of the biggest reasons behind the long shelf life of beef jerky.
How To Store Your Beef Jerky?
There’s no simple trick to storing beef jerky, but with the few well-known ways of meat storage, you can have your jerky last longer than you have imagined.
One simple way to store your jerky is in a paper bag. Paper bags have the power to wick out the remaining moisture content in your jerky, enabling it to last longer. It’s advisable you label your paper bags with the data of packaging to avoid instances when you will store the jerky more than expected, leading to it spoiling.
Another way to store beef jerky is in vacuum seal bags. Vacuum bags offer quality and long-lasting storage solution for those who want to keep their beef jerky for long. These bags let the moisture flow in and out of the jerky, which helps keep it fresh and soft without spoiling. The cost of vacuum sealers is quite high, so they may not be suitable for those on a low budget.
- You might like: How to store dehydrated food for long term
Preparing beef jerky in an oven may look challenging and impossible until you try it. With simple tricks and guidelines, you will be able to turn your lean meat into jerky using an oven. As you know, it’s fun and cheaper to make beef jerky at home.
Provided you get quality and lean meat and follow the right steps to preparing high-quality and delicious beef jerky, you’re assured of enjoying every bit of the process, including serving and eating the jerky.
Be sure to use the right storage methods after the beef jerky is ready to extend its shelf life and minimize wastage. We’ve outlined some of the best kitchen small appliances to use, so know which one to consider depending on your budget and storage needs.
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