Homemade beef jerky – backpacking snack or expensive cat treat?

This spring’s late ice-out means that my planned early spring canoe trip to The Massassauga Provincial Park has turned into a backpacking trip (on an as-yet-to-be-determined trail, depending on flood conditions), and a need for one more snack per day (Cheryl and I learned while hiking the La Cloche Silouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park that backpacking – at least on that trail – necessitates a higher daily caloric intake than a canoe trip)!

So, I decided to make beef jerky! I’ve eaten it before, but never made it, so this was to be an experiment. Either it would turn out great and we’d take it backpacking, or the kitties would get a very special treat.

So, I started with flank steak. I froze this piece for about 5 hours to make it easier to slice.

I only used half of this for the beef jerky. If no one liked it, I didn’t want to have a huge amount of it and waste $15 worth of meat.

I trimmed fat where possible (fat doesn’t dry, and it makes the beef jerky spoil sooner), and then I sliced it as thinly as I could.

Fat trimmed away

I put the beef slices into a pyrex dish and covered them with President’s Choice Gourmet Original Barbecue Sauce (about 250 ml). I mixed it all up, then dumped the beef into a container, put a lid on it and stuck it in the fridge! I let it marinate for more than 24 hours, and then put the slices onto the dehydrator trays.

I used the meat setting of my Excalibur 2900 series 9-tray dehydrator, which is set at 155 degrees Fahrenheit or 68 degrees Celsius. I filled 4 trays, spacing the beef out so as to maximize air flow. I left the empty trays out of the machine. I had read that I should use non-stick spray on the trays, but wasn’t sure about that so didn’t bother.

Ready to go into the dehydrator
Ready for dehydrating.

After about 4 hours, I checked the meat and it may have been done, but I wasn’t sure, so I left it longer. It was nearly at the 6 hour mark when I preheated the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, then transferred the meat from the trays onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to peel the meat off the trays.

What it looked like after 6 hours of drying.

Why the oven step? I read on a website from the University of Wisconsin that to safely make beef jerky at home, one should heat it for 10 minutes in an oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit after 4-6 hours of dehydration.

All done!

So, after all that? Was it any good? Here’s what the first 3 taste testers said:

“It’s pretty good, but when you have too much of it, the yumminess wears off.” – Ailish

“I like the meat part of it, but I don’t like barbecue sauce.” – Keaghan

“I’ll probably like it if I try it because anything Kyra makes is usually amazing.” – Alasdair, as suggested by Ailish.

And me? I love it. It’s sweet, very sweet. But yum!

Cheryl, you can give your verdict shortly.

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