Beef jerky is a great snack. It’s easy to make, it stays good for a long time (especially in an air tight container out of the sun), it can be frozen and thawed as many times as you want without affecting the taste, and it is easy to carry. You can make it taste like almost anything.

When I first started making jerky, it was with some venison my uncle had gotten that year. Hopefully, somebody in my family gets another deer this year, or else one of my friends with a moose license manages to shoot a moose. I have also tried making goat jerky and of course beef jerky.

The best cut of meat that I have yet found for beef jerky is the flank steak from a local Butcher shop here in Maine (Pat’s Meat Market). I freeze the steak, and when I am ready to marinate it I take it out of the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes and then cut it while it is frozen. That is the best way to get good cuts. It helps to have sharp knives. The side where my palm partially thaws the steak while I am cutting is always the most difficult to cut. The thin strips you cut should finish thawing in your marinade shortly after dropping them in.

What goes into the marinade, you might ask. For me, it is different every time, and I don’t measure anything. I usually start with a beer base; if I’ve opened up a beer that I’ve brewed and it is not yet ready to drink, then I will use that. Usually, the stouts and porters make the better jerky, but feel free to experiment or even use other liquids. I will usually dump a lot of soy sauce, steak sauce, sometimes some worcestershire sauce in there…then comes the black pepper, the garlic salt, the onion salt, the cayenne, the random other seasoning that catches my fancy…

I just mix and match and pick what I have plenty of at the time and what seems to suit me.

Let the marinade sit in your fridge for at least 8 hours, preferably a day or two. Mix it around a bit. If you have a food dehyrdator, then cooking it is a cinch; just load the trays, and flip it once after 4 hours or so. It will take at least 6 hours on the highest temperature, but 8 is usually a better time to shoot for. I went 10 hours on my last batch.

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can use a normal oven. Since you need to leave it cracked and I have a very curious kitten, though, I opted to spend the $30 on a dehydrator. Plus, the electricity costs less and there is less chance of burning myself.

If you aren’t going to eat it all in the first week or two of making it, you might as well freeze some. It may not be necessary, but it can’t hurt. If I am planning for a trip, I’ll wrap it in baggies with about a serving size, and leave it in an outer pocket of a backpack so that I can just reach behind me for a good snack to replenish the body!

Beats spending $20-$30 per pound at the grocery store. I probably make it for somewhere around $8-$12 per pound (when I use the flank steak) and only a few dollars a pound on cheaper cuts of meat. Maybe a dollar per pound if somebody gives me the meat off an animal they shot.