Jerky’s got a bad rap. Maybe that’s because the commercial stuff resembles dog treats, but somehow jerky went from sustenance for hard-core backpackers to scarily ageless snack you buy at a gas station. So our mission was clear: to develop recipes that are straightforward yet authentic. These delicious no-fuss jerkies (turkey, beef, and salmon) require nothing more than an oven, a handful of ingredients, and some patience.
Notes from the
Test upon test taught us what does and doesn’t work when it comes to jerky. Here are some pointers:
» Use an oven thermometer to confirm that your oven is at the right temperature.
» Check your thermometer periodically throughout the drying process to ensure a consistent oven temperature.
» Work with cuts of meat that are lower in fat, since they will have a longer shelf life once dried. For poultry, that means the white or breast meat; for beef, the top loin, sirloin, or tenderloin. (It doesn’t apply to fish.)
» When making the rub or marinade, be sure to use salt (or ingredients that include salt), which helps the flavor and extends the jerky’s shelf life.
» Freeze the meat before you slice it (anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead) to make slicing easier.
» Use a very sharp knife to cut the meat to keep the strips as even and thin as possible.
» Pat any excess oil from the dehydrated meat before storing it. In general, fat is the enemy of the jerky’s shelf life.
» Let the jerky cool completely on the oven racks before storing.
» Store the jerky in an airtight container. The turkey jerky is fine stored at room temperature, but the salmon and beef jerkies should be refrigerated.