What is jerky? Well, as with most treats I investigate, this one has historical roots. When we lived in pre-industrialized cities, jerky was made from animal meat that was too big to eat at once. Imagine hunting a bear, or a caribou, buffalo, or even a whale! These animals would provide meat for an entire nation when we lived in tribal villages, but it also had to be dealt with before it spoiled, and that is where the science of jerky comes into play.
You see, drying is one of the oldest and most common forms of food preservation. Canning technology is less than 200 years old, and freezing is even more recent (less than 100 years old for households), but drying technology is simple and affordable for nearly any one in the world, which is why jerky can be found around the globe.
- 1.5 pounds Flank Steak or Top Round
- 1 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Molasses
- 1 tablespoon Honey
- 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- Freeze meat for 1-2 hours, until cold but not completely frozen.
- Mix marinade and pour into plastic bag.
- Remove meat from freezer and slice into thin strips.
- Add meat strips to marinade and put in fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
- Sandwich meat strips between metal cooling racks.
- Sandwich metal cooling racks between A/C filters.
- Strap A/C filter sandwich to a box fan with bungee cords.
- Turn fan onto medium and stand upright.
- Allow meat to dry for 8-12 hours, checking intermittently to find desired texture.
- Remove meat from A/C filter and metal cooling rack sandwich, then store in a ziploc bag or plastic container in a cool, dry location for up to 3 months.