Big beef jerky is ripping you off

Originally published at: Big beef jerky is ripping you off | Boing Boing


I’ve made jerky for years with a cheap 12 rack dehydrator from Cabelas. I just take lean beef roasts, get them semi-frozen so I can cut them thinly more easily, and then marinate the thin slices overnight with whatever flavour I want to add, and throw them in the dehydrator until they’re sufficiently jerky-like.

It’s my go-to snack for long road trips. The only trick is making it last the whole trip!




Cale Jerky? It’s a thing.


I make zucchini and eggplant jerky that’s easy to make and tastes amazing. No fancy dehydrator required as i’ve made it in an oven, though dehydrators are more convenient. Only downside to making jerky if you use an appliance that is in the house (dehydrator or oven) is that the house will smell of jerky for hours which will make you very hungry :stuck_out_tongue: if you have a dehydrator i recommend putting it in the garage or outside.

I dont have a recipe for my marinade but i use maple syrup, garlic, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar, worchestershire sauce, paprika, salt and pepper. Sometimes i add extra ingredients like white wine or apple juice, etc just to see how it turns out but you can taste the marinade and it’ll give you a good idea of what the end result will be like. Also for making jerky with eggplant, zucchini and the like i highly recommend putting the sliced veggies in a ziplock bag and then freezing them, and then letting them thaw and then let them rest for a few days in the fridge. Freezing will rupture cell walls and allow the marinade to better penetrate the veggies


Zucchini jerky… go on, I’m listening! I’ve missed beef jerky on road trips since going veggie and the Mrs. loves zukes, so this sounds right up my alley.


I threw up in the back of my mouth a little bit.


I added more to my post above, i highly recommend zucchini and italian squash. I add eggplant too because it has a different more fibrous texture but the zucchini and italian squash have an amazing chewy and sometimes crispy mouth feel. I’ll need to make some more soon, if i do i can make a post with some general steps with pics and tips.


Looking forward to solar cooking season with this news. I’ll have to rent an inadvisably large dog to train to make me look the other way and have zoomies with a piece at a time.

Looking forward to Jason’s paean to Big Picanha ripping all the other cuts, though.


I’ve had the best luck with top round.

Sirloin works well too, but it can be a bit of a pain to trim all the fat and connective issue. And you’re stuck with strips rather than larger pieces.

You need lean beef with as much of the fat trimmed out as possible. Otherwise it can be greasy and prone to going rancid. And top round fits the bill.

It’s easy enough to slice it thin enough by hand if it’s partially frozen and with a sharp knife that’s got a decent curve to it. And it can help to pound it a bit thinner for tenderness and to make sure it’s even.

Thinner jerky tends to end up dryer and brittle, where as thicker tends to end up chewier. But thicker jerky takes longer.

It’ll hold together better cut with the grain, at the expense of being tougher. Usually better to cut across the gain, though it can end up crumbly if you over dry it.

Which reminds me I have a shit ton of Aleppo pepper jerky vacuum sealed in the basement.


I make my own beef jerky for backpacking and it is good, but for anything less, I just buy it. I don’t eat enough to make it worth while.

Re: zucchini jerky, dried zucchini is the best home dehydrated vegetable for backpacking! Not that it’s deeply nutritious, but it rehydrates super fast, and tastes great warmed through with some ghee. It adds variety to a meal, and is virtually weightless. Same with dried mushrooms.

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whenever I see a new jerky appear on a store shelf, it’s usually artisan/even more expensive, so I’d have to imagine the price point makes something resembling sense…

Now I’m curious what the extra costs are. (inspections? bleaching down entire rooms? safely/quickly packaging large amounts of dried meats?)

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best 10 mins today – what a fun and entertaining video.

I may even need to stop at the grocer on way home…

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So we’ve learned today that buying processed food is more expensive per ounce than DIY’ing it. In AMERICA of all places.


Also can be done in an over set to 170 and slightly open. Lay the strips on a cookie cooling rack.

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It’s primarily the volume reduction from dehydrating it. And that’s what he leaves out of his math.

He’s also using the smallest possible package, which will have the highest possible per ounce price.

But just take his numbers. $32/lb of jerky. Then the ratio for fresh meat to jerky is 4:1. So it took 4lbs of fresh meat to make that pound of jerky. Which works out to $8/lb.

It’s also worth pointing out you can get a 1lb bag of Jack Links for like $25. So $6.50/lb converted to fresh beef. I know Costco jerky (which us MUCH better than Jack Links) is around $15 for a 12oz bag, so $20/lb. $5/lb in fresh beef.

Now obviously they aren’t paying that for beef, they need that markup and there’s production costs and time involved.

But the disparity is a lot less extreme than it looks when you realize just how low the output on a batch of jerky is.

I’ve been doing it for years and I’m still surprised how little I get in the end.

It’s still totally possible to make better jerky for cheaper, but you’re probably not gonna do it using quality steak cuts. Especially right now.

Just for shits I spot checked prices in the cheap supermarket I’m in. Top round and sirloin are about $6 a lb. Ribeye and NY strip are $16.


I did it that way at first, but found I had to watch it much more carefully. With the dehydrator it’s fire and forget. If you make a lot of jerky, the dehydrator really pays off quickly. I think the dehydrator was like $200 on sale, so at the price of commercial jerky, that’s about 10 230g packs going by the current price at my local superstore.

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If you have a convection oven, you have the best tool around for making big trays of delicious beef jerky with very little effort and plenty of reward. Highly recommended.

I used to use a small aluminum fish smoker. That was basically set and go. It only had one temp setting, so it was just leave the thing after you were done adding smoke.

I was given a cheap dehydrator last year. It’s both faster and even easier. Definitely the way to go.

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