Perky Jerky

Beef jerky is a form of preservation in which fresh meat is dried to prevent it from spoiling. The word “jerky” comes from a South American native tribe who called it ch’arki, which means “to burn (meat).”

Jerky reached its height of popularity during the expansion into North America, where traders and explorers counted on it as an essential source of nutrition as they traveled to new areas with limited fresh food and supplies along the way. It’s been produced commercially for over 100 years but has now become a favorite homemade high protein snack. You can make it right in your oven — all you need is a cooling rack (fleishigs, obviously) and a few hours!

Hot and Spicy Beef Jerky

Making jerky at home is simple—adjust spicy seasonings to suit your taste

  • 2-3 lb. beef brisket

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

Using a long sharp knife, slice the brisket in long thin strips, against the grain. If you are having difficulty cutting thin slices, place the meat in the freezer for 60 minutes — no longer or it will freeze solid and you won’t be able to slice it at all.

Place meat slices in a zippered plastic bag, or plastic container with a lid, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix until very well combined. Pour over the sliced meat and mix everything around until all the strips are completely covered.

Place your meat in the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight.

Place a cooling rack on a foil-lined sheet pan.

Remove the strips of meat from the marinade and let most of the marinade drip off. Place meat strips on the cooling rack on the prepared pan.

Place the pan on a rack set high in the oven, and set the oven temperature to 170 degrees. Keep the oven door slightly open by sticking a wooden spoon or crushed aluminum can in the door. This will allow some of the heat to escape so the meat has a chance to dry without cooking.

Let the meat dry for about 3 hours, then flip it over and give it another 3 hours or so. Total cooking time depends a lot on the size and thickness of your strips.

Your jerky will be done when it’s dry enough that you can rip off a piece easily. Remove from oven and leave the jerky out to cool for 2-3 hours, and then place in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag. It will stay fresh and safe to eat for 4 to 6 months.

Tropical Jerky

This version, featuring pineapple juice, yields a tender, flavorful jerky. The acid in pineapple is a powerful meat tenderizer!

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. brisket, sliced thin or ready-sliced meat such a pepper steak

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl or ziplock bag. Cut the sliced meat into narrow strips.

Add beef strips to the mixture in the ziplock bag or bowl and marinate for 6-24 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove from refrigerator and strain excess marinade in a colander or pat dry with paper towels.

Place on a cooling rack over a foil-lined sheet pan. Dry slices as directed above. Jerky is ready when it’s dry enough to tear easily.

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.