Jerky is a dried food created from a strip of meat that has been preserved through salting or drying it. Hunters first made jerky as portable, long-lasting food, but nowadays, jerky is usually mass-produced and eaten as an occasional treat.

Jerky lends itself to many tastes – salty, sweet, spicy, etc. – but all can be classified into one of three categories: beef jerky, turkey jerky, and pork jerky. Jerkies are typically made from an animal’s muscle meat because those muscles contain the most nutrients and the highest fat concentration for flavor.

How Can I Make a Great Jerky at Home?

This article will discuss some secret tips that will help you make jerky step by step like a pro. 

Step1. Slice the Meat

The first step in making jerky is to slice the meat. You can divide the meat into two; half of it for marinade and half for smoking. 

Step2. Prepare the Marinade

A marinade is a liquid that makes the meat more flavorful, tender, and delicious when cooking. In the process of jerky making, you have to prepare a marinade so that later on, when you start the bacon or curing process, your meat will be ready to eat without any other processes involved. Marinades for beef jerky are usually made from three main ingredients: sugar, garlic, and salt. The sugar acts as a flavor carrier and helps flavor the mixture. The garlic gives a slightly pungent taste to the jerky. The salt acts as a tenderizer for the meat and makes it more tender. 

Step3. Marinate the Meat in Marinade

After preparing your marinade, you should place your meat in a container and cover it with a lid or plastic wrap. For best results, marinate for 24 hours or until the required time is up. Please do not use chemical-based spirits to cover meats because they give color to the meat and affect its taste. The marinade for jerky can also be made from water, vinegar, beer, etc. if you do not have sugar or salt readily available inside your home at all times.

Step4. Drain the Meat

Once you’ve marinated your meat for sufficient time, you should drain the meat in another container without pouring out the marinade. You can use a colander or any other straining gear to isolate most of the marinade. If you leave too much marinade on beef jerky, it will be soggy when you slice it up and eat it. That is not good enough for your taste. Once you’ve drained most of the liquid, pour it back into the original container and set it aside until the smoking process starts.

Step5. Prepare the Smoker

You can make your smoker at home or purchase a regular smoker. A smoker can be made from metal, wood, or even plastic sources. To smoke jerky, you have to select the right temperature of temperature for smoking. You can try slivers of different meats already ready for the proper smoking process by placing them in different parts of the smoker.

Step6. Smoke the Meat

After you’ve drained your meat and prepared your smoker, you should put jerky in the smoker and smoke it until it turns brown on both its sides. The slivers should reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit before being taken out to eat.

Step7. Place the Meat in a Bag

Once you’ve smoked your jerky, you should place it in a vacuum-sealed bag and set it aside until it has cooled down. The jerky will be ready for consumption after being in the bag for three days in the fridge.

Step8. Remove from Freezer

After three days of refrigeration, your jerky is ready to eat. You can take it out from the freezer and store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight where its flavor will last longer. 

How Do You Make Jerky Less Tough? 

Some meats such as turkey jerky and pork jerky are tougher to chew than beef jerky. You can try smoking pork and turkey for more extended periods, or you can add more tenderizers such as soy sauce and tapioca flour in the marinade. You can also try adding spices such as chili powder or cumin.

How Do You Make Jerky Less Tough? 

When you are making jerky, you have to be careful how much salt you use. Too much salt will make the meat too salty to eat. If marinating your meat for 24 hours or more, then drain it before smoking it, so that excess liquid is removed from the meat, thereby making it less tough. You can also try adding water to the marinade if you do not have sugar at hand to act as a carrier.

Why Does Jerky Become Tough After Smoking? 

A jerky’s texture is not uniform, depending on where it was sliced during the process. So when you slice your meat, make sure that you slice it uniformly so that all slices are equally aged and toughened. The cuts closer to the outside of the meat will be used for marinating and smoking first, so they will take longer than cuts nearer the center of the meat to age, shrink, and toughen.

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Now that you know how to make your jerky at home, all you have to do is go out and buy meat, cut it into slices and start to prepare it for smoking. Ensure that you carry out all the steps correctly; marinating, draining, cooling, and storing your jerky. After few hours of work, you will eat delicious homemade jerky made from the meat of your choice.