So there I was in Middle America, clinging to my jerky gun…and I was ready to use it. Beef on the hoof beware – I have mastered the art of ground beef jerky making!
I got a great deal on 20 pounds of lean, grassfed ground beef from a neighbor about a month ago (the same one we bought a half a steer from last fall). We still have plenty of that steer left, but the price on the ground beef was too good to pass up – $2/pound for packaged meat (she was cleaning out her freezer). I quit cutting up our roasts to make jerky, and started in on the ground beef.
The jerky gun came with seasoning and cure packets, but these were full of all the ingredients I’m trying to avoid in commercial jerkies (MSG, nitrates, etc.). (Those little packets are expensive, too, if you purchase them separately.)
I hunted around for recipes online. Surprisingly (or not), most recipes I found were for strips of meat, not ground meat, using a marinade. I wasn’t sure how those would translate, so I started with GNOWFGLINS “Basic Jerky – Not So Tough” recipe. I let it sit for a couple hours once the spices were mixed in, and then dried it overnight. That was a little too much drying time, as it got a little tough and brittle, but the taste was good.
The next time around, I decided to try my favorite recipe for regular jerky from Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook – All American Marinated Beef Jerky. This recipe is intended for use with beef strips, but it worked well as a ground beef jerky recipe, too.
Ground Beef Jerky Recipe Using a Jerky Gun
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used grain free organic tamari. Most soy in the US that is not organic is GMO.)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon organic onion powder (she uses 1 teaspoon onion juice made in a juicer)
1/2 teaspoon organic garlic powder (she uses 1 teaspoon chopped garlic)
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer sea salt)
1 pound lean ground beef
In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients and let sit for at least two hours. I mixed this up at bedtime and let it sit until after lunch the next day, and it wasn’t too strong. I’d stick to three hours of less if you used beef strips.
Load the mixture in the jerky gun and use the gun to load your dehydrator trays. I do recommend using the mesh inserts or fruit leather trays, as this mixture will be softer than the mixture Wardeh made because of the added liquid, which makes it easier to fire through the gun.
I loaded up five trays in my Snackmaster dehydrator around 1pm and left them sit at 145 F until around 10 pm. Out of two pounds of ground beef (I doubled the recipe), I had roughly a gallon bag of jerky.
As you can see, the jerky gun makes nice, thin strips about an inch wide when you use the “double barrel” attachment. The gun also has option of a single wide strip or a tube shape.
I’ve seen shelf life claims ranging from around six months to 18 months. Ours never lasts that long, so I don’t know for sure. Keeping it in the fridge or freezer will make it last longer, vacuum sealing also helps. The fat will go rancid first, which is why it’s important to use lean meat.
This has become one of my favorite snack foods since we’ve been working to reduce our carbohydrate and grain intake. It’s relatively quick and easy to make, and the gun was pretty inexpensive. Jo has good ideas on Jo’s Health Corner for other low carb snack options.
Do you have a favorite jerky recipe? Have you tried making jerky with ground beef? Has anyone tried making jerky out of organ meats? I’d love to hear from you.