Beef Jerky

I have been told that I make the best beef jerky by enough people that I almost believe it. I have to admit that I think it is pretty good too. Many people have asked me how it is made and it is for them that I have thrown this page together.

Jerkey Spices Layout
I buy the jerky spices that I use from Walmart. They are made by a company called NESCO and are pictured here on the left. The box comes with 6 packages each of cure and spice, original flavor. Use 3 packages of each for our batch. Add a half a tablespoon each of Montreal Steak Seasoning and Cajon Seasoning. I get both at Costco.

All Nesco products described here are also available at their website:
Jerky Works Kit
The Jerky works kit comes with 7 different flavors of spices for you to try along with the wide nozzle for making flat strips, and two round nozzles for making pencil size round jerky and slightly larger round jerky. We like the wide strips.

Walmart carries the original flavor. To buy all other flavors, you will have to go online.
Ground Beef
The only meat in the Jerky is ground beef, which I buy, 12% fat at Costco. I always buy it the day I make it. I want it to be as fresh as possible. My recipe uses 4 1/2 pounds.
Weighing In
I scale the meat for consistency. I make sure that I get exactly 4 1/2 pounds of ground beef in the batch.
Left Overs
Pack the left overs in a baggie and flatten it. This will help it to freeze more quickly and to thaw more easily for use in a recipe later on.
Ready To Mix
Next I knead the spices into the meat. For this, I like to use the Bosch Kitchen center with a bread hook. Any method that allows it to knead well will suffice.

A note on the Bosch... We got it when Gary was a baby and that was 21 years ago. It has been used almost daily since then. It is a tremendously valuable kitchen tool.
Jerky Mixed
I let it knead pretty thoroughly. I like to make sure all the air is out of it so that it remains consistent one batch to the next.
I use the dehydrator from Nesco. At Walmart it comes with 4 trays. This is enough for 3 lbs of ground beef. I use 6 trays. Additional trays are avaialable from Nesco in two paks. I have tried to use more than 6 but the beef does not dry. Use no more than 6 trays.

For our batch, we use 6 trays.

This machine works great for all sorts of things. If you have an apple tree that is always dropping apples, even if some have worms, slice them (cut around the worms!) in 1/4 inch slices and dry them. They are better than candy!
Filling Tray The gun works like a caulking gun. You squeeze the trigger and the contents come out in a strip. I like to keep it all going the same direction on my trays.

You will note that I am wearing plastic gloves. I do this throughout the process to keep it germ free. (Keeps the hands from getting smelly too!)
Stacking Trays
When I stack the trays on the dehydrator, I criss-cross the patterns. I can't really say why, but it makes me happy.

Let the dehydrator run for 1 hour. Then flip all of the jerky over. This is the only time you will do this. I have tried drying it without the flip, but it didn't seem consistent.

After flipping, dry for another 6 hours. This will provide a chewy jerky. Dry longer for tougher jerky. Be careful though. I have dried it for 11 hours and it turned into saw dust.
There is often a little left over beef mixture. I like to squeeze it out onto a frying pan and fry it up like bacon. I think this would make a great breakfast meat!
Paper Towels
After 7 hours total of drying, I use a cookie sheet and paper towels to dry some of the grease off of the jerkey. One paper towel, a layer of jerky, another paper towel, etc until it is all on the cookie sheet. Then I leave it for a while to cool off before packing up.

These can be kept in a jar, in baggies, I have even vacuum packed them with a food saver before. I found that it wasn't worth the effort because they got eaten so quickly. They store nicely in the freezer if you want to really pace yourself.

I hope this page will inspire you to give jerky making a try. It is really worth the effort.
If you have comments you may direct them to me:
or, if you are a fellow Deans employee,

No animals were harmed in the making of this web page, although there was an incident with a cow earlier.