In an emergency situation it is critically important to have enough food to survive. Options in the wild are limited and the safety of eating something caught wildly is questionable so it is always best to come prepared.
Protein is very important to consume to keep you alive and jerky is one of the easiest ways to do this. Fortunately, there are different options for the DIY survivalist and for this method the tools are already available to the reader.
Have no fear, making beef jerky at home is a simple process and one that may someday save your life!
Beef Jerky in the Oven vs Dehydrator Debate
The common debate is whether to use an oven or a dehydrator. Almost everyone has access to an oven, but a dehydrator is a great and easy way to prepare meat for a hike or outdoor excursion.
Ovens are widely available, simple to use, and make a high quality product. Dehydrators have streamlined the process making it easier to use than an oven with the ability to produce jerky in a shorter time span.
Beef Jerky in the Oven
Using an oven to make beef jerky is a very straightforward process. There are many pros to doing it this way over using a dehydrator.
The oven in your home is easy to program and makes prep for cooking beef jerky very simple. Another great thing about ovens is the amount of space available meaning you are able to cook a large amount of meat at once. This may help shorten the process so it doesn’t require as many batches to end up with the amount of jerky you wanted.
Making beef jerky in the oven also presents an opportunity to get creative and messy when cooking the jerky. Sauces, marinades, and spices all add to the flavor and texture of the jerky; cleaning the drips and juices from all of the sauce is much easier to do in a kitchen than in a dehydrator.
There are some cons to preparing this way, however. Time is the first issue: it can take several hours longer to cook in an oven than in a dehydrator.
Ease of use is also compromised when using an oven because dehydrators can be set and left alone until the meat is ready while ovens require frequent check-ups.
Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator
Dehydrators are very user friendly and make the drying process quick and easy. The dehydrator can be set for a specific temperature and duration meaning once it is ready, the meat goes in and is left there until finished.
Air is constantly circulated through the dehydrator meaning perfect results every time. The racks are spaced evenly to allow air all the way around the jerky which dries it out quickly.
There are few cons to making jerky with a dehydrator other than cleaning up which can sometimes be difficult.
How to Use an Oven to Make Beef Jerky
After selecting the piece of meat that will be used to create this tasty jerky, cut it into small strips up to a quarter of an inch thick. Thinner pieces will dry more quickly but thicker pieces will create chewier jerky. Personal preference will help decide how thick the cuts are.
After slicing the meat, select an appropriate seasoning or marinade. Let the meat sit overnight or make sure it is thoroughly coated before it enters the oven.
Line the tray of the oven with the slices of meat keeping enough distance between each piece to allow air through.
Set the oven as low as 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the USDA recommended temperature for cooking beef. If the oven will not go this low, use a wooden spoon to prop the door open to keep the temperature from creeping up too high, which would cook the meat rather than dehydrate it. Leaving the door open is crucial to getting the right final product because it allows air to circulate.
If you have a convection setting, use this as it will help speed up the drying process. Once everything is in place, sit back and relax.
Check the meat after an hour and a half to make sure things are going smoothly. The drying process will take between four and six hours depending on how thinly the meat was sliced.
When it is getting closed to being finished, take a strip out for a taste test. If the jerky bends a little or can be torn, it is perfectly done.
Meat that has been cooked for too long will become brittle and snap or break rather than bend.