How To Make Beef Jerky

The ideal road trip and hiking snack, beef jerky is perfect for summer vacation and activities. But instead of filling the grocery store cart with packaged brands, it's just as easy (and more delicious) to make your own version at home. Follow some of these tips and you'll be on your way to the perfect protein-packed bite.

First, select a lean cut of meat like sirloin, flank steak, top round, or eye round. Remove all the noticeable fat and cut the meat (against the grain) into thin strips (.05-inch thick). You can freeze the meat for a few hours to make it easier to thinly slice. Next, marinate the meat in a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, and salt and store in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Next, remove the meat from the marinade and coat in seasonings of your choice. Try adding in spicy peppers, liquid smoke, brown sugar, or cinnamon.

Next, remove all the moisture from the jerky and place in a dehydrator. Leave enough room in between pieces for air to circulate around the meat. Usually this process takes two to six hours, depending on thickness of slices, temperatures, and humidity levels. Check after two hours and then every 30 minutes until the meat is deep brown and not raw. Alternately, you can use your oven, set to 165 degrees F, and place the meat directly onto the wire rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the drippings.

Store the jerky in airtight containers and place in the refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy homemade jerky for up to 2 weeks. Be sure to make a batch of this before heading out on you next summer trip or hike.

Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.