The jury is out on nitrates but I don't believe we need to chemically preserve meat and I'm not worried if my meat doesn't stay bright pink! This stuff is in most processed meat and what I worry about is the health risk to my family. Mark's Daily Apple has a great article breaking it all down. Please check it out...great info!
Back to the jerky...I scoured the internet looking for nitrate free recipes and found that everyone was basically using salt and sugar (to off set the salty taste) and a blend of spices (any thing from curry to pepper) and just creating their own recipe. So, this is what I did! Took some experimenting, but I'm pretty sure by how fast it disappeared that it was good!
I borrowed my Aunt's Nesco dehydrator and in 8 - 9 hours had freezer bags stuffed with the goods! If you don't have access to a dehydrator, you can set your oven to 140 degrees F and in 8 - 12 hours you will jerky. Be warned, it does stink up the house. I put the dehydrator in the garage or out on my patio!
Time is based on 6lbs of beef...adjust accordingly!
What You Will Need:
6 lbs of grass fed ground beef - you can use bison as well
3 tbsp hot paprika - for more kick you can use chili powder or cayenne
4 tsp celery salt
6 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp salt - I only used a 1/2 tsp per pound because I have celery salt in the mix
- blend the spices in a bowl and ensure all the lumps in the brown sugar are broken down
|put the meat into a large mixing bowl and mix the spices with the meat until well combined. You need to get your hands dirty throughout the whole process to ensure that you don't have clumps of spice!|
|Load the Nesco jerky gun with meat and pipe onto trays. If you are using the oven and your hands, bust out the cookie trays and cooling racks...it will take awhile to get the meat into ribbons, but worth it!|
|8 trays stacked with meat ready to plug in and dehydrate!|
- this whole process, from mixing to plugging in the dehydrator, took us about 40 mins.
- while its cooling, using paper towel, you can dab away any fat that may have surfaced
- once completely cooled, break apart, put in small freezer bags and store in the freezer 2 - 3 months. Anything you plan on eating right away can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Pretty much guarantee that it won't last that long :)
Consider getting a dehydrator in the family. Its great not only for jerky, but spices, fruit and veggies!