Crave: Make jerky at home

photo by: Courtesy of Mother Earth News

Smoky Peppered Beef Jerky

Jerky–meat that has been dried to a very low moisture content and usually does not require refrigeration–is a favorite food for many Americans. In days gone by, jerky was made to preserve meat while it was plentiful and was eaten when fresh meat was scarce. It’s still prized as a light, compact protein source.

It’s fairly simple to make your own at home, too, if you have the patience. Even if you don’t have a special smoking apparatus or a dehydrator, you can dry the jerky out with a low, slow heat in your oven.

Once you’re done, store your jerky in airtight containers or zipper-seal bags in a cool, dry place. Jerky can be stored on a pantry shelf for up to three months.

Smoky Peppered Beef Jerky


4 pounds beef

1⁄4 cup soy sauce

1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1⁄2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon hickory or mesquite smoke flavoring

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Slice partially frozen beef from which all of the extra fat has been removed. (Thin slices, about 1⁄8-inch thick, dry faster than 1⁄4-inch-thick slices.)

Make marinade by mixing soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, smoke flavoring, garlic powder and cracked black pepper.

Coat slices of beef with marinade by alternately layering meat and sauce or by mixing marinade and beef. (A glass cake pan is ideal for laying the slices flat.) The beef should be coated but need not be swimming in sauce.

Cover pan and refrigerate for 4 hours, stirring mixture occasionally.

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Place beef slices in single layers on cooling racks, and place racks on baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours, then turn and continue baking for 2 additional hours.

After 4 hours, test for dryness. Jerky is ready when meat is barely flexible.

Let cool for 1 hour, then store in airtight containers.

Candied Bacon Jerky


1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne

10 strips bacon


Preheat oven to 225 F. Use rimmed baking sheet with fitted rack, if possible. Line baking sheet with foil. Place rack over foil and spray rack generously with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In shallow bowl, combine brown sugar and cayenne, mixing well.

Place bacon in brown sugar mixture, pressing down to coat one side and then turning and coating other side. Shake off excess mixture and place bacon on prepared rack.

Bake for 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours, turning every hour. When done, bacon will be deep mahogany in color and will have decreased in size considerably.

Let cool for 1 hour, then store in airtight containers.


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