How Do You Make Jerky More Flavorful?
The good thing about making your own beef jerky is that you can personalize it however you want. This means you can use your favorite flavors to make your perfect low-carbohydrate snack. A jerky marinade can be full of a variety of flavors: soy sauce, black pepper, liquid smoke, worcestershire, brown sugar, onion powder, hickory, paprika, garlic powder, teriyaki, bbq sauce, jalapeno, red pepper flakes. Truly, when you are in charge of your own jerky, you call the shots.
But maybe this is the first time you're making your own jerky, and you need a little help when it comes to making it taste the way you like it. This is a matter of trial and error, so you might want to take notes or have some taste-testers handy so you can decide which jerky flavors are at the top of your list. This is not a serious endeavor—just have fun!
How Do You Add Flavor to Jerky?
A marinade is the most common way to add flavor to your jerky. If you've got the time, this could be a good route. If you soak your jerky in a marinade and refrigerate it, you'll want to leave it for about a day, but when your jerky is ready, it'll be absolutely bursting with your favorite tastes. Marinades can be sweet, smoky, tart, or spicy. You can make your own marinade or buy some at the store to test out which flavors you prefer.
Liquid smoke is a popular liquid marinade, and you can buy a 5 oz. bottle on Amazon for $8. Delish also recommends King's Hawaiian (for a sweet taste) and Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki (if you're a fan of ginger and garlic) for a meat marinade. Worcestershire sauce is another favorite for marinating jerky meat.
When you're making jerky, dryness is definitely your end goal. Once you're put your jerky through a slicer, soaked your thin strips in a liquid marinade, pat it dry with paper towels before you dry it out on wire racks or baking sheet in the oven or a dehydrator. A lean cut of meat, such as an eye of round, venison, or flank steak, are great for jerky, especially because there's less fat to cut off. Top round and bottom rounds are both lean cuts, though you'll get a more tender cut with the top round. Pork jerky is another good lean choice.
Tough cuts of meat are less expensive than some of the leaner cuts, so if you have ground beef you'd like to use for your jerky, it's best to have a tenderizer at hand. The preservatives you use on homemade jerky can determine its shelf life.
Do I need Curing Salt for Jerky?
When you're preserving your meat, you can avoid chemicals that you will find in jerky at the grocery store. Curing salt is a great option for preserving your jerky, but you don't have to have it when you're making your own. Vinegar and citrus juices are great options for preserving jerky, and they're natural and nitrate and nitrite-free. The best beef jerky has a long shelf life and won't spoil quickly, and if you store your jerky in an airtight container, such as a vacuum-sealed bag, you will achieve the long-lasting snack you want. You can store your airtight container at room temperature, but if you refrigerate it before and after you open the bag, that will only help.
How Do You Fix Bland Jerky?
So you already made your jerky, and it's...not the best. The flavor you were going for just isn't there. How do you fix it? Easy. You can coat your jerky strips with olive oil, then sprinkle the dry rub or seasoning you like. The oil will allow the dry rub to stick on the meat, even though it's already dry.
Again it's all about trial and error, but the errors can be corrected!
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