Congratulations ! You’ve found it. In this article you will find the secret of how to make a beef jerky dehydrator at home yourself. You will be able to make your own jerky WITHOUT the need of an electric or expensive modern day dehydrator.
We all love beef jerky ! and in most places of the world, it is not only expensive to buy, but also a mystery to make. Below you will find the solution to this. Don’t be misled. Home made jerky is simple and safe to make.
Whether you are living an ‘off the grid’ lifestyle or not, you will be amazed at just how easy it is, to make a home made jerky dehydrator with simple items you would most likely already own.
Now that all of our mouths are watering ! let’s just get straight into it and learn this great secret !
HOW IS IT DONE ?
Very simply, this method is based on the same principles and process that an electrical dehydrator uses, and that is dehydration through evaporation. The key item to this secret technique is the use of a pedestal fan.
The pedestal fan is the dehydrator and the evaporating tool. By using the basic law of air movement, combined with moisture, we have evaporation and dehydration ! This is one of the reasons why I love this system so much. It’s just so simple !
WHAT MATERIALS OR ITEMS DO I NEED ?
The answer to this is amazingly simple and of much surprise to many.
Below is the list of 3 basic requirements and items needed, for making a home made dehydrator for any type of meat.
1. A Pedestal Fan.
2. Cake Racks or similar steel wire grill stands.
( You could use bird or chicken wire mesh, if you don’t have any ! ) Below is the image of the type of racks I use at home.
3. Any type of Electrical Source. Any !!
Firstly, we must understand some quick basics.
Did you know that running a pedestal fan is not as taxing as what most people may think in regard to power consumption or usage ? These items draw ‘very little’ power to operate. I have ran pedestal fans directly off a tiny 30 watt solar panel in winter for this method to make jerky, with various types of meats and recipes, with 100 % complete success rate !
Above is an image of the fan I use for my jerky making. It’s a simple 20 Watt pedestal fan with variable speeds. Obviously if you have a larger capacity fan that uses and has more power or Watts ( 40 Watt + for example ) then the process will take a lot shorter in time to make.
Let’s just touch on a quick explanation of electricity:
To gain a basic understanding of electricity we can use the “hose and water” model, to best explain it. This is very simple to understand.
If we compare a garden hose with water flowing through it, and the pressure of that water flow, then we can directly convert that to how electricity flows through wire, and how it is measured in the same way.
You would’ve heard of Volts, Amps and Watts ?
Voltage – is the ” pressure ” of electricity that is flowing through the wire or ” hose “.
Amperage – is the ” volume ” of electricity that is flowing through the wire or ” hose ” and
Wattage – is the unit measurement, gained from multiplying both of these factors together to give us a reading of power consumption.
Volts x Amps = Watts.
Electricity is commonly measured in units of….. ‘Watts’.
OK, now that we understand the power consumption principles, Lets begin !!!
HOW TO MAKE THE DEHYDRATOR ?
This method can be done inside, or outside of the home, but for a few reasons regarding pests and weather, I recommend doing this inside of your house. It is not a noisy, messy or smelly ordeal ! In fact, the aromas of this process will scent your house, with homely and delicious earthy scents, depending on the marinade you use with the meat.
Below, the information will be provided to you in ‘ point form ‘ to make it EVEN easier for you !!!!!
1. Use a room or section in your home that has satisfactory ventilation.
Set up a table or surface near a window. A table-top or similar surface, is absolutely perfect. The surface top is and will become your jerky drying platform. Make sure it is clean and contaminate free.
2. Locate your pedestal fan so that it points directly on the table-top.
Position the fan parallel with the top surface of your table or equivalent. Do not point the fan directly or squarely down on the table-top surface.
To make it perfect, point the fan so it is just slightly above the meat drying racks, but aiming or pointing down slightly, ensuring that fan airflow is reaching all points of the racks. Above and below the meat.
3. Place your meat strips evenly on your racks.
Make sure that they are not touching each other, to ensure adequate airflow around each piece of meat. ( This is important, so please make sure this is achieved. ) Also it is recommended that you lay some newspaper or the like down under your drying racks to catch any drips or marinade residue.
4. Adjust pedestal fan angle and position.
Once you have laid out your meat strips on your racks, adjust the fan flow so that it is covering all the meat. I suggest curing 1 or 2 kilos of raw meat at a time, so that a good and even air flow is achieved and actually ” blowing ” over all of your meat. ( It sounds like a lot of meat but remember most of the moisture content will be removed leaving behind a very lightweight product ).
Also, at this stage, you can crack pepper or sprinkle extra herbs and spices on the meat. The marinade will help in this for the herbs or spices to stick to the meat.
5. Adjust your pedestal fan speed.
I recommend running the fan at a low to medium speed for this. ( Obviously the higher the fan speed, the quicker the curing process, but I have found that a more controlled curing rate is achieved with a lower fan setting ) Adjustments can be made pending on weather temperature or other factors including power availability or time. Adjustments can also be made throughout the process of dehydration.
6. Turn the strips and rotate racks.
The racks of jerky strips that are located closer to the fan, will cure quicker than the others. Ensure to rotate the racks and strips so that all the meat is cured consistently.
Turn the jerky strips on the racks after the 3rd or 4th hour of pedestal fan contact, and also rotate the trays or racks around, so that uniformed drying takes place. ( at this time, You can simply evaluate if you need to adjust the fan speed especially if the closer to the fan pieces of meat are considerably drier or tougher than the others. )
However, 9 times out of 10, the fan speed can be left as is.
7. It’s now just a matter of time !
As you run your fan on a low to medium speed setting, the curing or drying process will take around 8-10 hours on average beef strips sliced into 1cm or 10mm square strips and around 10cm or 100mm long in length. Curing or dehydration time is factored on what type of meat you are using, the size of cut strips, ambient temperature, fan speed or power and length of time marinating the meat prior to curing.
Don’t get wrapped up around the axles with this. Every batch of jerky is going to be slightly different in curing times from slightly different factors. Just keep an eye on your jerky ! It’s as simple as that !
If you like your jerky tough, breakable and chewy then leave the fan on for a longer period of time. You will know when the jerky is ready, and the fan to be turned off, by the style of jerky that is desired. It’s very simple.
Before consumption, I recommend reading the following.
To Note: There is debate to air curing meat with low temperature, in regard to pathogen content. If you want to make sure that you, your family or others don’t fall victim to this, then I simply suggest just placing the nearly cured jerky in an oven and giving it a quick blast at 160 degree Celsius for around 7-10 minutes. This will kill any possibility of pathogen activity. ( just ensure your oven is at this temperature before putting the jerky in )
I personally, have never once used the ‘oven method’ to kill off any undesirables, in all of my years preparing and consuming jerky in this way. All of the people, including myself, who have consumed the jerky prepared in the above mentioned method, without the use of an oven, have never fallen ill or suffered any symptomatic issues from consuming it.
If you wish to further ‘oven treat’ the jerky, then by all means, please do so. For best results, consider doing it while the meat is still tender to avoid over cooking the meat any further than desired intention.
Jerky can always be placed back into the airflow of the pedestal fan to finish off the dehydration process after it has been super-heated. Super-heating the meat to kill any possibility of pathogens, can be done before the meat is laid onto the racks, midway in the curing process, or at the near end.
HINTS AND TIPS
- You can use any type of meat. I make goat jerky on occasions and it is sensational !
- It is a lot easier to slice the meat into strips when it is slightly frozen ( not rock hard frozen ! )
- Use a sharp knife when cutting your meat for safety reasons.
- Always cut against the grain of the meat. Some people will cut with the grain of the meat and this choice is totally up to you. I find that cutting against the grain helps with easier chewing.
- Jerky can be stored without refrigeration.
- Home made jerky has a great shelf life, up to 3 months.
- Jerky can be made any time of the year.
- Experiment with different types of marinade. Don’t be afraid to try something different.
- The most preffered cut of meat is ’round’ beef cuts. However, any type of meat cut can be used.
- Always try to remove any fat from the meat before curing as sometimes the fat can go a little mouldy.
- Don’t cut your meat strips to thick or to thin. I recommend sizes of 10mm x 10mm x 100mm in length. Slicing the meat too thin results in very stiff and hard portions which are very dry to eat. You can also slice the meat in to strips or flat bands 10mm x 20mm x 100mm long. ( this may require a little longer dehydration )
“This method of curing is very easy and I recommend trying it. Now that you know how to make your own beef jerky dehydrator there is nothing stopping you ! A method that once you learn, you will never forget “!
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to reply and help you out.
All the best,