How to Make Your Own Jerky from Beef, Turkey, Fish, and More
Jerky is a favourite snack of low carb dieters everywhere. It’s high in protein, convenient, portable, and available in a huge range of flavours and styles. However, many people shy away from jerky as a snack since so many of the typical store-bought varieties contain added sugars and carbs. Fortunately, jerky is easy for you to make yourself at home, allowing you to completely customize the ingredients to ensure that your jerky is low in carbs but big on flavour. In this article, we’ll help guide you through the different kinds of meats that you can use to make jerky, as well as explain how to achieve certain flavours, and what common methods you can use to make it in the convenience of your own kitchen.
For starters, let’s take a look at some of the most popular meats that people use to make jerky, and how their taste and textures are different.
Popular Meats to Use for Jerky
Undoubtedly, beef is the most popular meat that is used to make jerky. It’s an excellent choice to work with as it is extremely common and has a great base flavour and texture for this type of food. As you’d expect, the quality of the beef you use will determine how good the jerky will be, so make sure you choose lean, fresh beef to get the best results. A popular choice for a cut of beef to use for jerky is a nice flank steak, but you could also use brisket or another cut that has low fat content. Look for cuts with less marbling to ensure the fat content is as low as possible.
Another popular meat for jerky is turkey. Many people prefer the lower fat content of turkey, but it also has a milder flavour than beef, so depending on what your desired flavour is, it may be a better choice. This is a fantastic way to use up those turkey leftovers after big holiday dinners like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and can be seasoned in many different ways to boost and accentuate the milder flavour of the meat.
There are plenty of different types of fish that can be used to make jerky, but the most popular choices are salmon, trout and tuna. Fish is extremely healthy and a great source of protein and fatty acids. Fish jerky is often flavoured using sweeter marinades like teriyaki, but is equally good when flavoured with spicy or smoky ingredients. Smoked salmon jerky in particular is an absolutely wonderful taste experience that is a favourite of jerky lovers all over the world.
Other Meats for Making Jerky
Jerky isn’t just limited to those meats, however. You can make it from nearly every kind of meat you can imagine, from boar and bison, to snake and alligator. Here is a great list of 17 different types of meat that you can make jerky from. The next time you feel inspired to make something completely new and unusual, try experimenting with some of these ideas to make some jerky that’s definitely out of the ordinary.
Marinades and Sauces for Jerky
Jerky flavours come in a very wide range, and you’ll find different variations to suit virtually any flavour preference that you may have. Some are bold, others are mild, some are sweet, others are spicy, but they’re all delicious. Here are some of the most common and popular jerky flavours you can try.
If you like a sweeter taste to your jerky, you may want to try a marinade like teriyaki or honey garlic, or create your own. It’s important for low carb dieters to be careful with sweeter sauces and marinades, as they can contain high amounts of sugar. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-sugar and sugar-free marinades available for low carb dieters to use for making homemade jerky. For example, this sugar-free Teriyaki sauce from Seal Sama has a great flavour, and will definitely produce a great tasting teriyaki jerky.
Whether you like just a little heat or a lot of it, there are countless options for spicy marinades to use for making jerky. While many spicy sauces and marinades are inherently low in carbs, there are still some that you’ll need to be wary of as they may contain added sugar. Check the labels carefully to be sure, or make your own spicy marinade using your favourite low carb hot sauces. Here’s a great list of hot sauces that are perfect for low carb dieters.
The best way to get a smoky flavour in your jerky is to actually smoke it. If you have a smoker or a barbecue that is capable of smoking, then you’ll get best results if you use that to finish your jerky. Hickory is a popular wood used for smoking jerky, and it has a great flavour that really accentuates the flavour of the meat. You can also use maple or mesquite for some different smoky flavours to try. If you don’t have the ability to actually smoke the jerky, there are flavours you can add to your marinade that simulate a smoky taste. As with any other flavour or marinade, be sure to check the bottle of liquid smoke flavouring to make sure it doesn’t contain sugar or other added carbs.
How to Make Jerky at Home
Making jerky at home is actually quite simple, and can easily be done in the oven. The key to making great jerky is patience. The marinade needs a good amount of time to really soak in to the meat, and the drying needs to be done in an oven low and slow to get the best results. Here are the basic steps to making jerky in your oven.
1 – Slice the meat into long, thin strips and place them in your desired marinade to soak.
2 – Marinate the meat strips in the refrigerator for no less that 4-5 hours and up to a full day to ensure complete saturation of the flavours in to the meat.
3 – Preheat the oven to a very low setting. Under 200ºF is essential, and around 160º is best.
4 – Remove the jerky from the marinade and use a paper towel to absorb any excess sauce from the meat strips. They should be somewhat dry before going in to the oven.
5 – Hang the jerky on bamboo skewers on the oven racks and place a foil-lined pan underneath to catch any errant drips from messing up your oven.
6 – Bake the jerky for at least 4-6 hours, depending on the thickness of your strips. This may take as long as 12 hours for thick jerky, or if your oven temperature is lower than 160º.
Check in occasionally until the jerky has a firm, but not hard or crispy, texture. A good way to test is to remove a strip and bend it. It should be dry to the touch and crack slightly when bent.
Once you’ve achieved the desired texture and consistency, your jerky is ready to remove from the oven and start enjoying.
Be sure to keep any leftover jerky refrigerated or in a cooler at all times.
As a snack for low carb dieters, jerky is simply perfect. It’s got everything that low carb dieters need, and tastes absolutely delicious. Once you start making your own jerky at home, we’re sure that you’ll have a lot of fun experimenting with different flavours and other types of meat to discover your own unique combinations. We certainly hope that you’ve found this article helpful.