How to Slice Meat for Jerky
Jerky making is something you can definitely do at home, but you have to have the right tools and some good strategies on hand. Good jerky is made by thinly slicing beef with a slicer, putting it in the marinade of your choice, and using a dehydrator. There are many factors that can lead to the best beef jerky.
How Thick Should you Cut Meat for Beef Jerky?
When you're actually cutting meat for beef jerky, it's important to cut it one-fourth-of-an-inch thick, and a meat slicer will help with this. If the jerky is too thick it will be too chewy, and it if it's too thin, it'll become too tough. Of course, the thickness of your jerky strips depends on your personal preference, but remember the kind of thickness you want when you purchase your jerky meat.
What Meat is Best for Jerky?To achieve tender jerky (and chewy jerky), you should consider which cut of meat to purchase. An eye of round, a top round or bottom round, flank steak, London broil, or another lean cut, such as venison, will help you achieve the quality homemade jerky. Sirloin tip and briskets are other lean meats that can be a good jerky. Those cuts of beef will help give you get the thin slices that make jerky chewy, flavorful, and an excellent, filling snack.
Should You Trim the Fat?
Freezing your meat just before you slice it will help you to get the thinner slices you desire. You don't have to freeze the meat entirely, but just a few hours will be fine. After you freeze the beef (or even if you don't freeze it), you'll want to cut the fat off the meat. The more fat on your jerky the meat, the more chance there is for bacteria to form on the jerky and that it will spoil faster. One of the biggest upsides of jerky is that it can have a long shelf life, so you're going to want to do what you can to make sure your jerky is as lean as possible.
A sharp knife will help you remove the fat from the meat before you make it into jerky. Another term for fat on beef is "marbling." Marbling really depends on the diet of the animal during its life, so if you purchase grass-fed beef for your jerky, there's less of a chance that you will be dealing with fatty cuts of meat. It's important to know where your jerky meat comes from so that you know what kind of jerky you're going to have. Again, how you make your jerky is up to your personal preference, and it comes down to the cut of meat you use. Eye of round is a popular cut of meat, because it comes from the rear leg of the cow and and is lean but has enough fat to retain flavor from a marinade.
You'll also want to remove the fat so that the meat dries effectively in your jerky maker, or food dehydrator. Check out the how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator to learn more!
Cut with or Against the Grain?
So, you've jerky slicer from Amazon, and then realized, after checkout, that you don't really know how you want to cut your jerky meat. How you cut your beef will have a definite effect on your jerky and how it turns out. You might have heard the term "cutting with the grain" or "cutting against the grain." "The grain" is in reference to the muscle fibers in the meat. If you cut with the grain, your jerky will be tougher and chewier. If you cut away from the grain, you're going to get a less chewy, softer jerky.
How do you see the muscle fibers? You'll be able to see them running parallel down a cut of meat; they run vertically from top to bottom. So if you're cutting with the grain, you cut in the same direction the fibers are running. If you're cutting against the grain, you're slicing perpendicular to the direction of the grain.
The answer is not exactly a simple one: It really does come down to what you like, the flavor and texture you like, and how you want your beef jerky to turn out.
What's the best way to marinate jerky after you slice it?
When it comes to your marinade, it's really up to you and what you like. You can use both dry and wet ingredients to make your marinade: This can be honey, soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, onion powder, seasoned salt, liquid smoke, and onion powder.
Once you mix the contents of your marinade (sweet, smoky—whatever you want!), you can put the marinade in an airtight container and soak your meat strips in it. You can marinade the meat strips for up to 24 hours and should leave it to soak no fewer than four hours. Then, you can dry the meat in your jerky maker. When it's done, you'll have the jerky you prefer (chewy, tender, flavorful) ready for snacking.
You've put the jerky in the slicer, trimmed the fat off, soaked it in a marinade, dried it in your dehydrator, and you're ready to go. It's snacking time. Your jerky recipe is your own—now enjoy it.
Red Truck is an American Beef Jerky Company proudly serving you with the highest-quality meats around. We have a wide range of products including Wild Game Meat Sticks, Beef Jerky Bites, Alligator Beef Jerky, Venison Meat Sticks, and Maple Jerky, Enjoy!