Beef jerky is a great snack, and it is very popular for camping and hiking because it offers protein when you are out away from home. It is easy to pack, and it tastes delicious as well. When you make beef jerky at home, it is less expensive and healthier than the store bought version. You need to use a dehydrator to make your beef jerky, and the biggest challenge is knowing when it is done. Read on to learn how to tell when your jerky is finished dehydrating.
Use a Food Thermometer
No matter what kind of meat you are cooking, a food thermometer is always beneficial. Jerky is also made from meat, and the drying time is key to making it delicious. You will preheat your dehydrator to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep it heated for an hour before you put any meat inside. You should heat your beef to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before you dehydrate it. You can use the food thermometer to make sure you get it hot enough.
When you are ready to put the meat into the dehydrator, you can reduce the temperature to between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, watch the time. If you have larger pieces of meat, it will take longer, and smaller cuts will take less time. In general, it will take between four and twelve hours. The average time is 10 hours, at which time you can test the jerky.
Test the Dryness
When you are ready to test the jerky, you can use tongs to remove it from the dehydrator. You can put it on a drying rack for just a few minutes to let it cool to room temperature. Once it is room temperature, you can bend it. If it is finished drying, you should be able to bend it without breaking it. If it breaks in half easily, it is overly dry. If it bends and breaks, it is not finished drying. If you find that the jerky is soft and greasy, it isn’t ready yet. It should be dry to the touch and leathery.
Taste the Jerky
You can taste the jerky to make sure it is finished drying. When you take a bite, it should be tough and gummy at the same time. If it melts too quickly, it is not quite ready yet, but if it is crumbly and brittle, it is overcooked. It should be soft and chewy, but not too tough. If it is just right, you will know that the jerky is ready, and you can remove the rest of it from the dehydrator. The important thing to remember is that you can choose when it is done based on your personal preferences. There is no set standard.
When you make jerky, you will want to use lean cuts of meat with minimal fat and connective tissue. If you slice the meat evenly, the pieces will all be ready at the same time. This will be easiest if you have a meat slicer. The slices should be between one-fourth inch and one-eighth inch. Once you have it sliced, you will want to marinate the meat. You can choose whatever your favorite sauce is to add flavor to the meat.
Once your jerky is ready, you can place it in airtight bags or containers to cure for a few days. This helps it to last. It can last a few weeks at room temperature, but it will last longer if you keep it in the freezer or the refrigerator.
When you make homemade beef jerky, you can tell when it is ready by bending it and tasting it. You should use a food thermometer to make sure you have the heat high enough to kill any bacteria and dry the meat.