Beef jerky is a tasty, portable, high-protein snack. But most commercial beef jerky is pumped full of artificial flavourings and preservatives. Making your own beef jerky is a way to control the ingredients that go into your jerky, skipping the preservatives and using quality cuts of meat.
Choose Lean Meat
Lean meat makes the best beef jerky, so choose cuts with as little fat as possible. If you choose cuts that are already lean when you buy them, then you won't waste money cutting away fat that you've already paid for by the pound. In addition, fat tends to go rancid at room temperature and beef jerky should be storable at room temperature. Beef jerky with excess fat can go rancid in a matter of days.
Flank steak is a lean meat that makes excellent beef jerky, and it has a relatively consistent grain so it is easy to slice it thinly, with the grain, to make strips that you can easily dry. Round steak, brisket, and rump roast work well also, but be sure to trim any gristle before you begin slicing your meat for jerky. London Broil, from the top of the round steak, is another good cut for beef jerky. It tends to be sliced in cuts of 1 to 2 inches thick, so cutting thin slices off a cut of London Broil makes strips that are the perfect size for beef jerky, saving you some work.
Choose Fresh, Good Quality Meat.
Fresh, good quality meat makes good quality beef jerky. Beef should be fresh and dark red, with no age discolourations. Pick juicy cuts that smell fresh. Organic, grass-fed meat has superior flavour to mainstream, industrial meat, and will produce a healthier, more flavourful jerky. Grass-fed meat also tends to be relatively lean, which is another important criteria when selecting cuts to make beef jerky. Organic meat is free from growth hormones and preservatives, so you will be creating a healthier, cleaner jerky than the varieties you buy in most stores.