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Jerky - Where'd It Come From and How to Make It

Updated on July 6, 2013

Before We Get to the How-To...A Brief Where-From

There doesn't seem to be any doubt that jerky is an American creation. Some say Native Americans were making jerky thousands of years ago, while others say that jerky derived from the Inca around 1500 years ago. The word "jerky" even appears to come from a word in the Quechuan language of the Inca - "Ch'arki". It translates to "dried meat". Either way, it was a popular food choice back then, as it is today.

Jerky was popular thousands of years for the same reasons it is today. It's a food source that is easy to make, tasty, portable and provides nutrition without requiring refrigeration. Nearly any kind of meat can be made into jerky, except pork. When Europeans came to the New World and were introduced to jerky, it became a staple of explorers, tradesmen, and pioneers. Here was a great food source that could be hunted anywhere and stored for long periods of time. The Europeans loved it!

Jerky today is commercially produced and sold in grocery stores and convenience stores throughout the world. It's still a popular, take-along snack. Commercially-produced variations are usually made from turkey or beef and range in flavors from salty to teriyaki to sweet and anything in between.

And Now...The How-To

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 8 hours
Ready in: 9 hours
Yields: Varies

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Flank steak
  • 4 tbsp steak seasoning
  • 1/2 c. dale's low sodium
  • 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce
  • 4 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 box toothpicks

What To Do

  1. Slice flank steak (or whatever meat you're using) into very thin slices. The thinner the slices, the crunchier they will be. I slice it about 1/16 to 1/8 thin.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinate at least an hour. Marinate overnight if possible.
Marinating flank steak strips.  I had already strung most of the strips by the time I realized I should take a photo of this!
Marinating flank steak strips. I had already strung most of the strips by the time I realized I should take a photo of this!

3. Place the top oven rack as far up as it will go. Cover the bottom rack entirely with aluminum foil. The foil will catch the drippings from the slices.

4. String 2 slices per toothpick. You don't want too many on each toothpick as they need to hang without touching each other. Hang each toothpick from the top oven rack.


Flank steak strips hanging in the oven, ready for their 8 hour "dehydration".
Flank steak strips hanging in the oven, ready for their 8 hour "dehydration".
Here you can see the slices hang well on the toothpicks without touching each other.
Here you can see the slices hang well on the toothpicks without touching each other.

5. When all the slices have been hung, close the oven door but leave it propped slightly open with the handle of a large wooden spoon or ladle. Not sure why, but the little bit of air flow into the oven helps the meat dry out more.

6. Check on the slices every couple of hours or so. The thinner, smaller pieces will be done sooner than the larger, thicker pieces. You can pull the meat out as it's done to your liking.

Finished jerky.  This batch stayed in a little longer than I intended and is a bit more cooked than we like, but in general this is what you'll end up with.
Finished jerky. This batch stayed in a little longer than I intended and is a bit more cooked than we like, but in general this is what you'll end up with.

Comments

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    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      I may have missed it, and if so, please excuse my oversight...what temperature are you drying the jerky at?

      Very interesting article. Your lead-in was great, and the recipe, once I get the temperature down, seems easy enough to try.

      Aloha!

      Joe

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