We love beef jerky here at the Accountability household. Two problems with buying it: it’s expensive and no telling what all unpronounceable ingredients are included with it, like MSG and who knows what other preservative chemicals are added.
For comparison, here is Amazon’s current price for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky:
On the day I published this post, 20 ounces of Jack Link’s Beef Jerkyfrom Amazon is going to set you back $23.57 – free shipping providing you add something to the cart for over $1.43 unless you have Amazon Prime and then of course shipping is free. That’s for 1 pound four ounces of beef jerky and ends up costing $1.17 per ounce. Now considering that about four pounds of meat dehydrates down into one pound… that 20 ounces of meat was originally 80 ounces or 5 pounds of meat. That would put the hydrated cost of the meat at $4.71 a pound. Which is really not bad considering, but you can do better than that if you make your own.
And guess what? You don’t even need to buy a dehydrator if you follow Alton Brown’s recipe for jerky made using a box fan and air conditioning filters. Even if you do by a dehydrator, you’re going to save oodles of money if you like beef jerky.
You’re going to use a tiny bit of electricity – I plugged in my Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor and ended up using four kilowatt hours for a twenty four hour period. That means I used about twenty-eight cents to dry the meat!
54 Cents Per Ounce When You Make It Yourself!
Store bought price for bulk jerky (bear in mind you are going to spend more per ounce when you buy just an ounce or two at at time) is going for $1.17 per ounce, considering the beginning cost of $23.57 for 20 ounces.
Of course you have to consider that you are paying someone else to do the work for you: cutting the meat into strips, marinading it, laying it in the dehydrator, packaging it and shipping it to the store.
And it tastes sooooo much better than store bought!
My Favorite Jerky Marinade and How To Make Jerky
This is what I came up with for my beef jerky to marinate 2.5 pounds of beef (2.5 pounds is the most I can fit into my round dehydrator at one time, one day soon I’m investing in an Excalibur 9 Tray Food Dehydrator):
- 1 Tablespoons Blackstrap Molasses
- 1 Tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon raw crushed onion with juice
- 1 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed fresh garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
Basically you cut the beef into thin strips. First trim all the fat from the meat as the fat will go rancid. After trimming the fat, it can make the job of cutting easier if you place the meat in the freezer for two hours so it is partially frozen. Try to keep the cuts uniform in size, no more than 1/4 inch thick. Cut across the grain for a more tender jerky, cut with the grain for more chewy. You can find a lot of recipes for making beef jerky on the Internet, so I encourage you to find one that you like and follow that. Some recipes tell you to use a higher heat setting because of the fear of bacteria on the jerky but we eat the jerky we make so quickly that we dehydrate at lower temps.
When my boss gave me the FoodSaver, she also gave me a FoodSaver Quick Marinator so I used that, which pulls all of the air out of the canister and the meat. When you unseal it, letting the air back in, the marinade sucks into the pores of the meat.
When checking the jerky for doneness I found that the thicker pieces would look dark when held up to the light; whereas the pieces that were thinner and “done” were translucent. The thicker pieces I simply put back into the dehydrator for a few hours.
One last thing. Beef jerky could be a fantastic Christmas or birthday gift. And now’s the time to start on these little projects if you want to have it done in time for Christmas.
Have you ever made beef jerky? Are you a beef jerky fan? Would you ever try to make it?
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.
P.S. When I began this post – which has been sitting in my drafts folder since August – the cost for 20 ounces of Jack Link’s beef jerky was considerably higher! The savings today to make your own is much less impressive than it would have been only three months ago. The price in August was $49.95 with $7.95 shipping and handling! The cost per ounce amounted to $2.89 and the cost per pound for the hydrated meat was $11.58 per pound. All I can say is if you love Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, perhaps you’d better stock up while the price is less than half what it was three months ago. This leads me to wonder… is beef jerky a seasonal product? Is the demand higher in the summer, rather than in the winter? What the heck? Prices on groceries have been steadily rising in the grocery stores, and here we see a significant drop in cost online. ~Mrs. Accountability